The Rocky Horror Show

by Clever Music, Ian Ellery, Jay Derrett, Jeff Lee, Paul Andrew Stoddart
Crash Issue 18, Jul 1985   page(s) 12

Producer: CRL
Memory Required: 48K
Retail Price: £8.95
Language: Machine code

'The Rocky Horror Show' was a cult stage play and an even bigger cult film in the States. where night after night for years, the same audience would sit in the theatre repeating the lines in unison with the actors, dressed in the same type of clothing - crazy. It was a crazy film, and the game actually does go a long way in recreating the atmosphere and sense of madness, which is to its credit.

If you are one of the last people left on earth who knows nothing of the 'Rocky Horror Show', film or stage play, then you might be forgiven for not knowing what is going on. Good, middle class American youngsters, Janet and Brad, through some mechanical defect in their car, end up in this weird house for the night and one of them gets turned to stone - well, it'll do for a start.

It's entirely up to you whether it's Brad or Janet who gets stoned by the wicked Dr Frank'n'Furter and his dreaded Medusa machine, but clearly the least solid of the pair must do the rescuing. The task ahead is simple; guide the rescuer around the house and find the pieces of the De-Medusa and put it back together, then you can wipe that rather stoney smile from your partner's face and run like blazes. Of course finding the pieces isn't a piece of rock cake, you need to look for them and that means opening doors and that means finding keys the right keys. And while you are lurching around this rather attractive period dwelling you are going to be chased by quite a few people who would rather you didn't, and they have some pretty mean ways of expressing their preferences, like killing you. If you are lucky something might just walk up to you and say something silly like 'I didn't like my Teddy!' or 'it's just a jump to the left....'These remarks seem move Brad and Janet into a state of total confusion (know how they feel) and after a few more from the right sort of person that confusion moves up a grade, to total death.

The De-Medusa is made up of fifteen separate bits which must be collected piece by piece and deposited in the chamber next to your stiff friend. At the start of each game you find that the characters and the vital pieces have all been left in random locations around the house. While there are fewer than fifteen rooms within the house, some rooms have more than a mere lock to get past, the worst being a strange electric beam. The beam removes your one and only life if you get too close it can be turned off but it's a bit tricky. Your other problems move around on their own, they are the characters of the play and each one of them will have a lasting effect on you. The Butler (Riff Raff), for example, is nuts, he wanders round all day long complaining that nobody loves him while at the same time he is trying to zap you. One of the girls, Columbia, simply strips you naked when you bump into her. Eddie is a chap/thing who is particularly unpleasant. He was one of Frank's failed experiments. Fortunately he spends most of his time in the freezer, unfortunately the freezer doesn't work that well, the thermometer at the base of the screen lets you know when he is thawing out.

Oh one last point, the whole house is a space ship, yes it is difficult to believe but there you are. From your arrival you have 99 time periods (that's not as long as it sounds) to rescue your mate and a run for it otherwise by then, you see, Frank will have grown tired of your feeble efforts and left for home. Apparently Frank is this guy from outer space and he wears the wrong clothes, well that seems to explain it all.


Control keys: A/Z up/down, N/M left/right, Space to fire
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair and Protek
Keyboard play: fine
Use of colour: a bit one tone but avoids clashes
Graphics: very effective, despite some oddities
Sound: pleasant effects
Skill levels: 1
Lives: 1
Screens: about 14

On the whole this is a very appealing game to play, the backdrop of the house is great, the animation is superb, I particularly admired the manner in which the characters moved around of their own free will, and around objects. The way the screen changes from one room to the next is very smart. But something has come out of all of this cleverness, bugs, I'm sure of it. On two occasions when I died and sent Janet back she appeared at the starting position, the hall, but in the hall was the lift from the other end of the house and one of the electric beams from the floor above. Well being the adventurous sort I got in the lift, guess what? it went DOWN to the floor on which I got in it. Other annoying things tended to happen. The motorcyclist could be seen momentarily as part of the front door, he would appear again, just for a flash, in the dining room. This business about the clothes I thought one of the characters was meant to steal them yet you can be quite happily wandering across a room and woomph - you're stark staring naked. The electric beams are tricky yes, but more often than not you can get killed when they are not on and that makes it a lot more than just tricky. Very nice game shame about the bugs.

Unfortunately due to my not being able to receive Channel 4 I missed the 'Rocky Horror Show'. I assume that the game follows the same theme but in any case it's a good game. CRL have used some nice graphics. I found the collecting of bits a little repetitive after a while. The hero sprites went into some weird dance routines on occasions. I regret not being able to understand the point of the whacky conversations but even so a playable game but not that addictive.

It's about time CRL produced some decent software, especially now they've gone public, well maybe The Rocky Horror Show is a new leaf. The idea of the game (getting the De-Medusa machine parts and putting them all together) is quite simple really, although a little long-winded. Some puzzles are a little tricky to solve at first but become apparent enough as you progress through the game. The graphics are of high quality, detailed and there are no attribute clashes between the moving characters and the backgrounds. It looks as though lots of people are starting to copy Gargoyle's Tir Na Nog style. After playing the first few games, I noticed that there is no score - a little bit off-putting because you don't know how far you have got through the game. Overall quite a playable game and definitely the best CRL have produced, and hopefully not the last. I don't think it will take too long to solve once you've got going.

Use of Computer: 77%
Graphics: 85%
Playability: 78%
Getting Started: 78%
Addictive Qualities: 70%
Value for Money: 70%
Overall: 79%

Summary: General Rating: An exciting and different game with adventure elements.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Spectrum Issue 16, Jul 1985   page(s) 64

"Oh Brad, what have they done to you? An hour ago you were plain old Brad Majors, and now - now you're nothing more than a stone figure.

"Oh, if only we hadn't made this journey..."
But you did!

"If only the car hadn't broken down...""
But it did!

"If only we were amongst friends."
Two outa three ain't bad!

And that about sums up any semblance of plot the game might have. Now it's up to you to save Brad and his girlfriend Janet from a fate worse than working on YS...

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 41, Aug 1985   page(s) 28

Publisher: CRL
Price: £8.95
Memory: 48K
Joystick: Kempston, Protek, Sinclair

Let's do the Time Warp again and enter the mansion of Dr Frank 'n' Furter.

So here's the plot. Your beloved Janet, or Brad - depending on whether you're male, female, or just don't care - has been pushed into the Medusa machine, the evil doctor's ready-made cement mixer. Your job is to find the 15 missing pieces of the De-Medusa machine.

The bits are scattered in a few rooms around the two storey mansion and you can pick only one at a time. You then carry it onto the stage and fit it into the machine's flashing frame. The rooms contain laser beams, yin and yang symbols, magic mushrooms and hypodermic syringes, so be careful. You will also have weird characters with which to contend.

There's Riff Raff, the manic depressive butler who serves electrifying experiences. Magenta will take off all your clothes. is that the ultimate computer experience or a cheap thrill?

The other characters include a groupie, Columbia; Rocky Horror, a Furter creation who appears in odd places; and biker Eddie, whose bag is deep freezes.

Some characters will kill you immediately while others have comments to make about life and death.

The animation has not been handled as well as it could have been. If several characters are moving on-screen the action is slowed down.

If you enjoyed the film and want to play a better than average take-off then CRL will be in your favour. I found it weirdly addictive.

Overall: 3/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 49, Apr 1986   page(s) 60,61

Publisher: CRL
Memory: 128K
Price: £9.95
Joystick: Kempston. Protek, Sinclair

The Time Warp sounds rather out-dated now, and the game doesn't look so hot either.

Probably the only reason why CRL has bothered relaunching this 128 edition is so that it can add the sound from the Commodore 64 version. In practically all other respects nothing has changed.

The film, of course, was something of a cult hit, with cinema audiences going ape - speaking the lines in unison, and throwing toast and confetti at the screen. Reduced to the confines of a Spectrum, even with 128K, what you get is a bunch of bizarre characters mouthing mumbo-jumbo - "That's not the candlestick you're holding" - which has minimal significance even if you've seen the movie.

The game is actually very simple. You are Brad - or Janet - and you must find the 15 pieces of the dismantled De-Medusa machine which are scattered around evil Dr Frank 'n' Furter's castle. The De-Medusa must be remantled if you are to save your beloved Janet - or Brad - from being turned into stone. Time ticks away as the castle, a disguised spaceship, counts down to lift-off.

The doctor's abode is populated by weirdos: Riff-Raff the butler, with his raygun; Magenta, his sister; Columbia the groupie: and Eddie, the rocking biker from the deep freeze. There's also Rocky Horror, a 'creation'.

Provided you take care not to step in front of Eddie or Riff-Raff, or walk into the sparks in the gym, then the game boils down to a fairly routine matter of picking up keys and bits of the machine, unlocking doors and engaging in meaningless one-sided communication with the various loonies. It's not even mildly enlivened by losing all your clothes when you encounter Magenta.

This version has an added title sequence with four dancers doing the pelvic thrust to the strains of Let's do the Time Warp Again. The same tune plays continuously throughout the game, accompanied by the odd squeak or two, until you turn the sound down on the TV in exasperation.

Good graphics, reasonable animation, tiresome music and monotonous gameplay; we gave it three stars when it appeared last summer, and there's little reason to change that rating. Strictly for the freaks.

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Overall: 3/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 45, Jul 1985   page(s) 21

MACHINE: Spectrum, CBM 64, Amstrad
PRICE: £8.95

Despite what the hero of The Rocky Horror Show keeps telling you - it is easy to have a good time. Especially if you're playing CRL's computer game version of the cult rock music show.

Load in the game and you'll find yourself inside the weird mansion home of Frank N Furter. You can become either the hero or heroine - Brad or Janet - but your aim is the same. To find the dismantled parts of the De-Medusa machine and activate it before the mansion transforms itself into a giant alien space craft and blasts off for the stars! You also have to save your partner along the way.

The mansion is inhabited by some odd people - Frank, of course, plus the evil Riff Raff, and Magenta, Frank's assistant.

Rocky Horror looks good, sounds good and is very addictive - just like the show itself! You'll have to excuse me - I'm just off to do the Time Warp again!

Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 7/10
Value: 9/10
Playability: 10/10

Award: C+VG Blitz Game

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair Programs Issue 34, Aug 1985   page(s) 19

PRICE: £8.95

Don't dream it, play it! What is it? The Rocky Horror Show.

The Horror show gets off to a good start as you enter the creepy house, illuminated only sporadically by flashes of lightning. Your first choice is one of sex. Do you want to play the part of Brad or Janet?

Your aim in the game is to search the house for the parts of the DeMedusa machine which will save your partner, who has been turned to stone.

On first sight, the views of the house are reminiscent of the landscape in Dun Darach. However, the number of locations is far smaller and, as you must pass each one several times each time you play the game, they quickly become tedious.

In the end, tedium is the hallmark of this game that started so well. Yes, the other inhabitants are well animated and say amusing things. Avoiding them, though, becomes imperative if you are to miss hearing the manic biker telling you yet again that he never loved his teddy. Yes, one character removes all your clothes, but the resulting graphic has all the sex appeal of an Action Man.

Parts of the machine have to be collected one at a time, which makes for a lot of boring coming and going. Even worse, when there are several characters on screen at once, the strain of so much animation begins to tell. Your pace slows to a shuffle, giving the impression of wading through lumpy custard.

Rocky Horror Show is produced for the Spectrum by CRL, CRL House, 9 Kings Yard, Carpenters Road, London E15.

Rating: 56%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ZX Computing Issue 24, Apr 1986   page(s) 90


'How'd you do, I
See you've met my Faithful handyman.
He's just a little brought down because
When you knocked
He thought you were the candyman'

Actually it was just Brad and Janet the all-American bores, who dropped by to play The Rocky Horror Show computer game. Based on the stage play rather than the film and approved by Richard O'Brien, the show's creator, this version of the game from CRL was the very first game for the Spectrum 128 to arrive in our offices. It's very similar to the original 48K version in which either Brad or Janet is turned to stone by Frank N. Furter's Medusa machine and the other half of this happy couple has to seek out all the pieces of the De-Medusa machine which are scattered around the house.

You can choose to play either Brad or Janet and as you wander around the house you can collect keys to all sorts of unwholesome and strange rooms, not to mention weird characters like Riff-Raff, Magenta, Fast Eddie and Rocky himself. Magenta has the rather disturbing habit of ripping your clothes off when she bumps into you, and this prevents you from collecting any pieces of the DeMedusa until you've found them again. Rift-Raff is a little more conventional - he just raps you with his pitchfork, while Eddie will try and run you down with his motorbike.

The inside of Frank's home is rather chic, with long staircases, old-fashioned cage lifts, four poster beds and so on, all drawn in fine detail. The game itself is more or less identical to the 48K version and the number of screens is the same, though a couple of bugs that were present in the original seem to have been cleared up. The additions are the special effects screen at the end, in which the house takes off, and (drum roll please) the music! At long last Sir Clive has put a decent sound chip into the Spectrum and rather than the usual feeble BEEPs this game is accompanied by a three-channel rendition of 'The Time Warp'. This is a 'funked up' version of the song, also approved by Richard O'Brien, and hearing sounds like that coming from a Spectrum was quite an eye opener (ear opener?) and we've had the game running in the office just to provide a bit of background music. Obviously it's early days for the 128, but if this is an example of the sort of sounds it can create then we've got lots to look forward to.

Award: ZX Computing Globella

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 6, Jun 1986   page(s) 73


And so they came - the first trickle of 128 games. Sinclair cleverly made sure that the software was there, ready for the new machine. But most of the first releases have been expanded versions of existing titles, and we all know, don't we, that bigger doesn't necessarily mean better? After all, it's what you do with it that counts. So here it is - the highly personal, Rachael J Smith guide to those first ten releases.


This was always more atmosphere than serious game challenge - the ultimate thrill for Pistol Packin' Peter (Rocky Horror) Shaw and cultists like him. It's a faithful copy of the Frankenstein place (or so I'm told) with a much enhanced, foot tappin' Time Warp to dance to. Pity they couldn't have used some other icons from the show, thinks I.

So there they are, ten offerings for the 128. All benefit from having their amplified sound blasted out through the TV, and where the new sound chip has been used to full effect it's like suddenly being able to hear after years of deafness. But while there are things here to appeal to the person who's never owned a Spectrum before, I can't see much point in duplicating a game unless you were a big fan of the original. And that means that we're not yet in a position to say whether the 128 itself is worth buying. We'll have to wait until games that make full use of that extra memory - that do things that can't be achieved in 48K - appear before we all decide to trade in our old machines.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue Annual 1986   page(s) 47,48,49,50,51


Clare Edgeley blasts her way through a wealth of challenging software.

Get fit quick just about sums up the last 12 months. 1985 has seen enough sports games to put you off doing anything more strenuous than lifting a pint glass, at least for the next year.

Since the 1984 Olympics, we have competed in every imaginable sport: played footie with Bobby Charlton, run rings round Daley Thompson and been KO'd by big Frank... There is hardly an action sport left which has not been turned into a money spinner, with a Sportsman's name attached. What is wrong with Tessa Sanderson's Javelin anyway?

Daley Thompson's Decathlon was first to the tape back in November '84 and notched up a gold for Ocean when it jumped to number one in the charts for a few weeks. You have to compete in all ten events of the decathlon, taking part in the high jump, long jump and pole vault as well as track events. The 400m is the most gruelling and to keep up speed you must pump the joystick back and forth, which may result in a touch of cramp. The graphics are colourful and the game does give a taste of the real thing.

Melbourne House also attempted a compilation of events with Sports Hero, although it was nowhere near as successful as Daley Thompson. Sports Hero has you competing in four events - 100m sprint, long jump, 110m hurdles and the pole vault, over three difficulty levels. To gain speed you must pummel the run button and press the jump button before takeoff. Aching fingers seem to be the norm in that type of game and in many cases you will end up with a sick keyboard as well. There is no sound and the graphics are not fantastic, although the scrolling background is interesting. A few more events should have been possible.

More recently, Brian Jacks' Superstar Challenge from Martech reached the top ten, although it came a poor second to Imagine's Hypersports. Both contain a weird hotch-potch of events - some interesting, others boring. Brian Jacks gives you a pretty raw deal. For £7.95 you can immerse yourself in such exciting events as squat thrusts and arm dips. Those may be thrilling to watch on TV but on computer they are about as much fun as a wet blanket.

Hypersports is a different ball game altogether. Licensed from the arcade game of the same name, the computer version is very like the original, although some events lack imagination. When swimming - or floundering, if you forget to breathe - instead of tearing down to the end of the pool, the end moves towards you. Clay pigeon shooting is certainly one of the better events, in which you must shoot the skeets through automatically moving sights. The vault is tricky and rather than vaulting as far as possible from the horse, you are likely to end up on your head beside it. The graphics are generally thought to be more professional than Daley Thompson's Decathlon, though whether the game is better is a moot point.

Jonah Barrington's Squash from New Generation is an interesting concept which seems to have fallen flat. Knock a miniscule black ball round the 3D court and try to beat Jonah at his own game. Jonah is one of Britain's leading squash players. Much was made of the fact that a taped recording of Jonah's voice calls out the scores. Unfortunately, all you get is an unintelligible gabble and it is easier to read them on the score board anyway.

We awarded imagine's World Series Baseball three stars in the June issue, which just goes to show that our forecasts are not always spot on. In June, July and August it remained at number three in the charts, only dropping to eleventh place in September.

The game opens with a traditional rendering of the tAmerican National Anthem. Then play starts, with one team pitching and the other batting. You can play with a friend or against the computer, adjusting the speed and direction of the ball when pitching and the strength and lift of your swing when batting. Loving attention has been paid to detail with a large scoreboard displaying genuine adverts between innings.

Last, but not least, boxing - the sport for ugly mugs. Cauliflower ears and battered brains are only half the fun - just think what you can do to your opponent. A few months ago three games were released simultaneously on the back of Punch Out!!, a highly successful arcade game.

Elite's Frank Bruno's Boxing knocks Rocco and Knockout for six, and is easily the most playable and realistic, offering more possible moves and a greater number of competitors than either of the other games. It is also the only boxing game featuring a sporting personality - Bruno helped in an advisory capacity during production which explains the close attention to detail.

Gremlin Graphic's Rocco squares up well in the ring, though you will find it is not as easy to dodge your opponent as it is in Frank Bruno, and there are only three competitors. The scoring system is simple and the graphics are the clearest of the three games. It is worth playing and annihilates Alligata's Knockout in the ring.

Knockout is appalling and lacks any addictive qualities. It is the only game which uses colour - the others being mono - although that could have been sacrificed for extra playability. Other than left and right punches to the body and head, there is no facility for ducking and dodging, but at least you can amble away if the going gets too rough. You tend to spend a great deal of time seeing stars after being KO'd. At least it lives up to its name.

The legendary success of Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy lives on. Platform and ladders games are still the rage and dozens of versions have landed in the Sinclair User offices over the last 12 months. Two years ago Manic Miner was a sure recipe for success, and because it was ahead of its time a lot of money was made. Programming techniques are now more sophisticated and with games like Alien 8 and Spy vs Spy around, who needs a Manic Miner spin-off?

However, they are here to stay and some at least are worth the money you pay for them. One of the more successful games is Strangeloop, released late in '84, which has gone a long way to repairing the damage done to Virgin by Sheepwalk - one of its earliest and most awful games.

A half-crazy computer is the source of all your troubles in Strangeloop and, playing the part of a metagalactic repairman, you must shut it down. There are over 240 rooms filled with lethal swarf which attacks and damages your space suit. A jetbike waits somewhere and will make your task easier but you have to locate and refuel it first. Objects picked up will help with various tasks and friendly robots will patch your torn suit. The graphics are colourful and simple. and there is even a facility for saving your position on tape, to be resumed later when you have recharged your batteries.

Jet Set Willy II is the biggest rip-off of them all as Software Projects has done little other than add about 70 extra screens to the original. Essentially it is the same as Jet Set Willy which was launched back in 1984. The plot is similar; clear up the house before going to bed and avoid the hundreds of lethal thingummies found in each room. Despite being little more than a re-release, Jet Set Willy II is currently doing very well in the charts.

Despite the lack of original thought, if you are still hooked on the challenge of platform and ladders, try The Edge's Brian Bloodaxe. A loopy game if ever there was one. Brian, a viking soldier has been trapped in a block of ice for centuries, and as it thaws, he leaps out shivering, but ready to conquer the British. Flapping 100 seats, deadly ducks and mad Scotsmen are a few of the dangers that lurk on each level. Objects to collect and chasms to be leapt add to his daunting task. Brian Bloodaxe is at least as good as Jet Set Willy, with much visual humour and bright, clear graphics.

Hewson, which has made a name for itself in recent months with arcade adventures such as Dragontorc and simulations like Heathrow ATC, must have had a brain storm late last year with Technician Ted, which is totally unlike the semi-serious games released since. Guide Ted around a silicon chip factory while looking for a plate of the real things. Pick up knives, forks and other necessary implements and avoid several nasty traps. Easy to play and reasonably addictive, Technician Ted is not one of Hewson's best games but has done quite well in the platform and ladders stakes.

Artic's Mutant Monty is more sophisticated than Technician Ted and includes some extremely tricky screens requiring split second timing - if you are slightly out, a lemon or some other incongruous object will squash you flat, and then where will the beautiful maiden be? it is a constant source of amusement that so much work goes into preparing intricate story lines bearing absolutely no resemblance to the game you are playing.

On the whole rip-offs are uniformly mediocre in standard and not the sort of game you would buy for lasting playability. Real fanatics will find Activision's Toy Bizarre and Micromega's Jasper a doddle, and probably have more fun playing blindfold with their hands tied behind their backs. Both games are average and employ run-of-the-mill graphics. In Toy Bizarre, the player leaps round the levels of a toy factory popping balloons while being chased by a gang of irate toys.

Meanwhile, in Jasper much the same thing is going on, only this time you are a furry rat collecting money bags and treasure chests while avoiding furry cats, rabbits and other hairy animals. Platform games are usually fast moving and it is generally easier to keep up with the pace using a joystick. Unless you have very strong fingers, Jasper is doomed as your only option is to use the Spectrum's sticky keyboard.

Arcade adventures have come into their own in recent months, some remaining for weeks at a time in the top ten. With the advent of games like Gyron, fewer people are willing to put up with games like Jet Pac - classics two years ago but now gathering dust in cupboards across the country.

Superior graphics is the name of the game and the Spectrum is being stretched to its limits in a constant effort to improve software. Some games combine excellent graphics with originality, though equally large numbers have been launched on the back of the successful few. Ultimate's Knight Lore, Underwurlde and Alien 8 are three successful examples and Nightshade is expected to do as well.

Underwurlde is rather like a vertical Atic Atac featuring the Sabre-man who must escape a series of chambers while avoiding hosts of nasties. The pace is fast, the screens colourful - a devious game.

Knight Lore and Alien 8 could, at first glance, be mistaken for the same game. Featuring superb 3D grahpics, Knight Lore's hero must search a maze of rooms and find the ingredients of a spell to lift a curse placed upon him. Each room presents a challenge and one wrong move spells instant death. The scenario in Alien 8 is different from its predecessor and the quality of graphics is even higher.

Wizard's Lair from Bubble Bus is an Atic Atac lookalike with shades of Sabre Wulf and is an excellent game, even if you have seen the same sort of thing before. Bubble Bus has made some attempt to change the scenario which covers three levels, accessed via a magic wardrobe lift.

The programmers of Firebird's Cylu were influenced by Alien 8. Cylu is in the Silver range and at £2.50 represents very good value - it is almost as frustrating as the original but the graphics are a little patchy. Ultimate should be proud that so many companies want to copy their games, though it's a crying shame that those same software houses cannot put their combined programming expertise to good use, and produce something original of their own.

Games featuring film scenarios and famous names are often the subject of massive advertising campaigns, and Domark's A View to a Kill was no exception. Played in three parts you must guide the intrepid 007 through the streets of Paris, San Francisco and into Silicon Valley to stop the evil Max Zorin from tipping chip valley into the drink. The game received mixed reviews but, at the time of writing, it had just made it into the top ten - probably due to the James Bond name. It is an exciting game but lacks much visual detail.

The Rocky Horror Show from CRL is already sliding down the charts and does not live up to its namesakes, the film and play. Rescue Janet or Brad from the Medusa machine by finding 15 component parts of the de-Medusa machine. It sounds riveting. Your task seems enormous as you can carry only one part of the machine at a time and if you expect to meet normal sane characters in the castle, forget it. More could have been made of the graphics and the action is slow in places, but it is worth playing if only to meet Magenta who will strip you of your clothes. Wow!

Beyond's Spy vs Spy is unique and features simultaneous play between two players on a split screen. Take part in the zany humour of MAD magazine's two famous characters, the black spy and the white spy, each trying to stop the other finding secret documents in a foreign embassy. Set whacky traps as you ransack each room before escaping to the airport. It is fun, highly addictive and very amusing. Buying the licence to films, books and names is an expensive business, and at last one company has made the most of it with an excellent game.

It is interesting to note that when one unusual game is launched others of a similar nature swiftly follow. Perhaps all programmers follow the same thought waves. Last summer we had an unusual trio of games, reviewed in May, June and August issues. Two are based on the human body - not the most obvious subject for a game.

Quicksilva's Fantastic Voyage is a thrilling game based on the sixties film of the same name, in which Raquel Welch is injected into the body of a brain damaged scientist. Unfortunately, your mini-sub breaks up and you have only one hour to locate all the missing parts. Searching is a novel experience as you rush from atrium to stomach to lung and heart in a never ending circle. Finding your way to the brain is difficult as it is not signposted and the turning is easy to miss. Dine on red blood cells to keep up your energy and clear any infections which frequently break out - normally in the most inaccessible parts of the scientist's anatomy. A great way to learn about your bits, and where they are situated.

Icon's Frankenstien 2000 bears little resemblance to Fantastic Voyage, though it is played in a monster's body. Whoever heard of monsters smoking fags? This one obviously did and that is probably why it's dead. On reaching the lungs, battle with cigarette packets, avoid hopping frogs in the trachea, and fire at any oxygen molecules it is your misfortune to encounter. The graphics are uninspired and the game is simple.

Genesis' Bodyworks was reviewed in June and it is difficult to know what to make of it. It is hardly an arcade game - more of an illustrated, educational tour of the workings of a human body, describing the nervous, circulatory and respiratory systems.

Space Invaders was one of the first great games on the Spectrum and software houses have never tired of the theme. Space games crop up in all categories; simulations, adventures and arcade adventures. Activision has even brought out Ballblazer, a sports game played in space. Way out!

Moon Cresta from Incentive is a traditional game in which you shoot everything in sight, and then dock with another space ship before taking off to do exactly the same on the next level. With complex games like Starion around one would think that games of this calibre would flop. But no, there must be some people around whose brains are in their trigger fingers. Surprisingly, Moon Cresta is creeping up the charts. Long live the aliens.

Melbourne House's Starion takes space travel seriously and combines a number of features, including the traditional shoot 'em up, word puzzles and anagrams. Kill off enemy space ships and collect the letters they drop, then unscramble those to form a word. Fly down to earth and answer a puzzle to change the course of Earth's history. There are 243 events to rewrite - and that amounts to a lot of flying time. Starion is well up in the top ten.

System 3 has come up with the goods against all opposition with the dreadful Death Star Interceptor, which has proved surprisingly popular. If you are really into boring games, this is right up your alley. Played in three sections, first take off into outer space, next avoid assorted aliens and then, as in Star Wars, plant a bomb in the exhaust port of an enemy death star. It is all thrilling stuff.

Quicksilva's Glass is amazing to look at. Psychedelic colours make you want to blink in this repetitive but addictive game. There are hundreds of screens to blast through, and whole sections are spent dodging columns as you hurtle through a 3D spacescape. The rest of the time is spent shooting radar antennae off unsuspecting space ships. The graphics make up for any limitations in the game and demonstrates that a traditional shoot 'em up need not be boring.

This final section consists of a number of games which cannot be categorised. A strange mixture falls into this area - many are shoot 'em ups in some form or another, others require an element of cunning and strategy.

Gyron from Firebird, a Sinclair User classic, is a unique game in which you must travel through a complex maze, dodging massive rolling balls and keeping a watchful eye on the guardian towers to be round at each junction. Those shoot at you, but approaching from another angle may change the direction of their fire. As there are two mazes to get through, it should take months. Gyron is likely to deter arcade nuts, but for those with staying power, it is an attractive proposition. It did make a brief appearance in the top ten at the time of writing, but has since fallen away.

US Gold's Spy Hunter, based on the arcade game of the same name, is a faithful replica of the original. It all takes place on the road as you drive your souped-up sports car through a variety of traps laid down by the baddies. Equip your motor with a variety of weapons, obtainable from a weapons van which you drive into Italian Job style. Rockets, smoke screens and oil slicks are all strongly reminiscent of 007.

Elite's Airwolf is a game that we found so hard as to be almost impossible, and which everyone else seemed to find a cinch - and told us so in no uncertain terms! Try if you can, to fly your chopper down a long, narrow tunnel to rescue five scientists stuck at the end. Blast your way through walls, which rematerialise as fast as you can destroy them - a well nigh impossible task for those whose trigger fingers and joysticks have suffered from the likes of Daley Thomson's Decathlon. Airwolf has done better than we predicted. You can't win them all.

Ghostbusters, the mega box office hit last Christmas was a prime candidate for a computer game and Activision was first to the ghost. Featuring all the best parts of the film, it was an instant success and Activision did well to launch it simultaneously with the movie. Drive around the city coaxing ghouls into your ghost trap but listen out for a Marshmallow Alert. That giant sticky marshmallow man is quite capable of flattening whole streets unless halted. Greenbacks play an important part in the game as you have to buy your equipment to get started, and earn enough prize money for the number of ghosts caught, in order to take part in a final showdown with Zuul.

Finally Tapper from US Gold - another Sinclair User classic. Tapper is a simple but refreshing game centered round an all-American soda bar. You play a harassed barman, who must serve his customers with drinks. Easy at first as you slide them down the bar but wait until they have gulped down the fizzy stuff. Running backwards and forwards between four bars, make sure the customers have got a drink, and catch the empties as they come skidding back. There are three difficulty levels, each one faster and more hectic than the last. Tapper is moving up the charts and we are sure that it will go far towards refreshing the parts other games cannot reach.

The fierce competition over the last 12 months has chased many companies into liquidation. There have, however, been successes, particularly with a number of small software houses bringing new blood into the market. That can only be seen as a healthy sign.

The lack of QL games software is the only disappointment. Where is it? Other than a few basic programs such as Reversi, which cut its eye teeth on the ZX-81 years ago, there has been a dearth of games for this flagging micro. If games of the quality of Knight Lore can be produced for the Spectrum, why not for the QL?

Overall: 3/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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