Well, bless my twisty DNA. In last month's Snare preview we told you that the gallant crew of Speccy programmers were going to be selling this game off their own bat, by mail order. It seems that twenty-seven seconds after that issue went to press, the chaps at ESD got a phone call from Jim Scott, the funky head honcho of Beyond Belief. He was so impressed by the game that he's going to be distributing it on the Beyond Belief label. Hurrah! In fact, double hurrah! With an extra hurrah on top! Ooo, I've gone all wibbly.
Sorry about that. It's just so nice to see home-grown software being taken up by the big boys. Especially software that's as good as this. Snare is a Boulderdash-y sort of puzzler, with you playing Humphrey, a fanatically loyal royalist. The Princess of the land has had all her jewels filched by a load of aliens no less, and it's up to you to get the diamonds back. Evidently lacking imagination, the aliens have scattered the sparklies across thirty screens, surrounded them with networks of rocks, and are lurking in wait for unwary heroes. You have to push tho rocks around a bit, trapping the nasties so they can't get at you, then nip in in and grab the diamonds. Simple, eh?
At this point, old lags at the reading game will expect me to say, "No," then go on to describe some bafflingly complicated bits hidden away in the game. And who am I too break with tradition? The basic move-and-grab idea of Snare is vibrantly enhanced by the introduction of bombs, teleporters, a time limit, and multiple Humphreys. Bombs, um, blow up, taking huge chunks of the scenery with them. Teleporters fizz you away with a snazzy dematerialisation effect, and quite often deposit you safely back on the screen again. The time limit seems an innocuous feature, until you find out that all the walls disappear when it reaches zero. with around six nasties on each level, this does not bode well for your continued well-being.
The star of the show, though, is the multiple Humphrey feature. On some levels you'll be controlling two (or even four) of the chaps, all stuck in their own bit of the screen, and all pointing in different directions. Bewildering gameplay ahoy!
Snare is a smacker of a game. It is so addictive that I just had to play it until I got to Level 12. As you may know, I'm a really big fan of straightforward arcadey games. Nary a month goes by without my plugging Guardian 2, that incredible Stargate-on-a-Speccy game. So you won't be surprised to learn that I went for Snare in a jolly big way. The fact that you can't directfy zap the nasties adds a whole new thinky dimension to the gameplay, and the diabolical sneakiness of the level design adds lashings of addictive playability. Those extra features really jolly up the basic idea. Having up to four Humphreys on a screen is a brainwave - trying to manipulate each in turn just doesn't work. You have to wrap your mind around the concept of controlling all four simultaneously, waggling the joystick round so the chaps dangerously near some nasties don't accidentally wander into them.. I'd strongly recommend that the Snare programmers consider a sequel where the main idea is to control multiple Humphreys. It really is a spectacularly fabulous feature.
But enough of this wild-eyed dribbling. If you cast your mind back past all that wibble, you'll recall I said that I simply had to fight on until I reached Level 12. What, you don't remember that bit? Then skip back to the top of the page and read it all again. Tsk. I don't know. Education today, or what? Anyway. You could argue that I got to Level 12 in two days, any half-decent gamester could finish off the game in a week. Well, you could. But if you did, I'd have to swipe you lightly across the left ear and say cheerfully, "You're wrong!" Y'see. Snare has a password system. Every five screens you get a nifty, um, password that allows you to jump straight to that set of five screens And, um I started on Level Five (Ahem.)#
Look, let's cut this short. I love Snare. It's a maddeningly addictive game. It's got smooth graphics and splendid 128K sound. It loads straight into the SAM Coupe with no hassle. It's great. Go and buy it. D'you get the idea? You do! Hurrah! in fact-double hurrah! (Etc.)
Arr, me hearties, them jewels is worth riskin' your lives for, but do ye have the courage. This is what Big Al' keeps shouting as he wanders around the office with a cutlass swirling above his head and a parrot pecking his botty. Strange man.
Valuable things will be the ruin of mankind, well maybe not mankind but certainly the little known race of Humphs, foremost of whom is Humphrey who has been given a mission by their King: Recover the Princess' Jewels or die. The unhappy Princess' jewels have been stolen by a mob of Space Aliens who are hiding them in deep caverns of doom and Humphrey, aided by a supply of devastating high explosives must try to recover jewels on each of the thirty five game levels. Once he collects the requisite amount on each level he will be transported to the next.
The game consists of individual screens for each level with aliens, skeletons and obstacles littered around the landscape and four directional movement for the main sprite. To start off Humphrey is shielded from the aliens but he must strategically place bombs on the landscape which set off chain reactions, destroying the skeletons and obstacles. Doing this reveals the jewels but also releases the aliens. Well placed bombs will blow up the aliens too but watch out you don't kill Humphrey. There are also levers which open obstacles but you have to be quick to avoid bombs and aliens when you use them.
Graphics are minimal but cute and colourful and although this game doesn't look terribly modern it does get the brain in gear in a Pacman like puzzle way. However ultimate frustration or even boredom will affect lastability in the long term.
Price: £3.99 Tape
Reviewer: Steve Keen
GARTH: Snare can get frustratingly difficult and each level takes some thought to work out. Not dangerously addictive, but the sort of thing I would have expected in an arcade about eight years ago. Which isn't a bad thing really.
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