Popeye 3: Wrestle Crazy

by Paul A. Bellamy, Richard Stevenson
Alternative Software Ltd
Your Sinclair Issue 83, Nov 1992   page(s) 14

£3.99 cassette
0977 797777
Reviewer: Jon Pillar

Popeye and wrestling, eh? Now theres a tenuous link. Or is it? (He said an has best confidential no-it-isn't-and-I'll-tell-you-why-not voice.) Well, no. It follows the plot to one of the original Popeye cartoons. So that's all right then. (Phew.)

To save the Earth ol' Pops has to defeat five alien opponents by whittling away their energy and pinning them to the floor. To aid him in this endeavour he's got a quartet of wrestley moves - the headlock, the piledriver, the ridiculously big fight and the shin kick.

Popeye 3 is an out-and-out joystick waggler. While Zeppelin's Tag Team Wrestling used the old 'press fire with a direction' control method, to beat your opponent in Popeye 3, you have two stages of frenetic wrist-mangling. To win the bout, you have to grapple with the alien (by waggling the joystick), then try to force him into an energy-sapping headlock (more waggling). Naturally, while you're doing this your oppo is struggling to do exactly the same thing. There's a nice bit of variety in that when your waggle meter reaches full power you can stab fire and perform a piledriver (where you pick up the alien and bounce him on his head!), but basically it's a case of whoever's misspent their youth murdering their joystick with Daley Thompson's Decathlon having the edge.

The Popeye tie-in is limited to tie cans of spinach that you can grab to initiate a pretty funny cartoon scrap, and as the gameplay is mostly limited to waggling (there's that word again) it gets boring very quickly. (Another prob is that on Level One, the energy-boosting hamburgers thrown by Wimpy totally refills your energy bar rather than giving you a little bit of extra power as in the later levels, so if an alien grabs a burger when you're on the point of defeating him, you have to go through whole process again. Aie!)

The presentation of the game also leaves a lot to be desired. The graphics are smart, but the playing area is small (most of the screen is taken up by an animated background) and the action tends to get confused and obscured by the front ropes. Soundwise, you've got just a few bleeps and bloops. The (very) basic waggling gameplay is repetitive and not even the two-player mode can save this game from the bottom drawer.

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Overall: 56%

Summary: Uppers: It's got smart graphics, some fine funny bits and some tough (and silly) opponents. Downers: The gameplay harkens back to the Decathlon era - you just waggle your joystick until your arm explodes. Not a patch on Tag Team Wrestling and, after Popeye and Popeye 2, a great disappointment.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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