Reckless Rufus

by Paul Griffiths
Alternative Software Ltd
Your Sinclair Issue 82, October 1992   page(s) 12,13

Reckless Rufus, eh? He's probably in a bit of trouble then. I mean, it's fairly obvious he's going to be trapped somewhere. If they'd called him Eminently Sensible Rufus, it would be a pretty safe bet to say that the game centres around his adventures in choosing the right pair of slippers, or making a nice cup of cocoa before going to bed at a reasonable hour with a good book. But they haven't. So I reckon he's going to be in a spot of bother. (Looks at instructions.) A-ha! I was right.

This Rufus fellow, it transpires is stuck on an alien planet after foolishly hitching a ride with a disreputable deep space salvage company. Well, actually, 'hitching' is not the term. 'Sneaking into the cargo bay to avoid paying his fare 'cos he's a cheapskate' is, perhaps, more appropriate. Anyway, as crime does not pay etc etc, Rufus is caught by the crew the instant he tries to buy some liquorice from a deactivated robot. (It's a fundamental mistake that most stowaways make.) The Captain of the ship takes Rufus aside and explains, in a kindly, grizzled sort of way, that they'll happily take him on his way, provided he'll just beam down to a nearby and ever so not dangerous-at-all planet and collect a few piffling rare crystals. Rufus agrees or, more accurately, falls for it.

Hokay, so much tor the plot. Onto the game itself, which (gasp!) is actually quite complicated. To help things, we've got one of those amazing annotated screenshots somewhere on the page. (Looks up and over to the right a bit) Ah, there it is. You play Rufus (the space-hoppery sort of thing) and on each screen you have to pick up all the diamonds (the diamondy sort of things) while avoiding the aliens (the alieny sort of thing) (Yes yes, we get the idea. Ed) This relatively lemon-squeezy task, is made all the more tricky by the platforms. Ho boy, the platforms. They're a bunch of scampish blocks and no mistake, my fine friend. No doubt you'll want to know why. Well, speak up. Yes, you, the one in the ghastly blue shirt.


I'm glad you asked me that question Although I wish you wouldn't be quite so loud. I've a frightful headache. Well, y'see, the problem is that you're about six miles above the surface of the planet and consequently have to watch your step as you totter around after the diamonds. Some levels have twisty layouts already, erm, laid out, but the majority have just a few blocks scattered around a queasily empty looking screen. Find that annotated screenshot again. (Looks around.) Now where is it? (It's behind you! Billy Bigshoes, famous 1930s music hall comedian) No it isn't (Yes it is! Billy) No it isn't! (Slap! Ed) Oh, of course. It's up there. (Ahem) ) Anyway, glance up at it and you'll see a couple of numbered blocks. These tell you how many extra blocks will be produced when you roll over 'em. Say, for example, you flop onto a number five block. Now you can venture off into empty space and as if by magic, a number four block will appear to save you from a plummetty doom, Another move, and bingo! A number three block appears. And so on down to zero, whereupon you plunge screaming into the ground (So make sure you've reached another platform by then.) Get the idea? Splendissimo.

That's about it for the early levels. Later on you'll come across such things as sticky blocks. Rufus-eating platforms and icons that reverse the joystick controls, but I don't want frighten you so I won't mention them. It's blimmin' hard enough finding your way about the first couple of screens. Rufus, y'see, is one of those games where you'll get killed hundreds of times on a screen until you spot how to do it. Then the solution will lodge immovably in your mind burnt in by the humiliation of losing so many times before, (Er, yes. Ed) And before you wave your arms in the air and shout abuse in loud voices, there's a password system so you can skip the lower levels. Nyer!


That's all right, my headache's much better now. But yes, you're right - it is a pretty darn exciting game. The pace never let's up, as you waddle around the screen, trying to calculate exactly how far this particular magic block is going to get you while simultaneously fighting off a load of obstinate aliens. (Luckily you've got a laser gun. Hurrah! Unluckily, it's got extremely limited ammunition. Boo!) Then there are the one-way systems which have a habit of whisking you off in entirely the wrong direction. And the switches that need to be thrown in order to plug inconvenient gaps in the structure, and sortie other things. Yeesh. (As the famous Top Cat says).

The game's presentation is so scrumptious you could bake it in a pie and serve it for dinner. The graphics are fat and characterful, ever so smooth and rather spankily-animated. (Rufus doesn't move from block to block, he sort of rolls around the place like a big beach ball.) There's some amazing 128K Sound - the tunes are jolly, but the spot effects really are brilliant, especially the jaunty little rift you get when you manage to grab a diamond. Makes all the trouble worthwhile (sort of).

The massively important bit is, of course, the gameplay. And where addictive playability is concerned, Rufus delivers in a big green van With an imposing company logo on the side. The combination of puzzle and shoot-'em-up action really hits the spot. There are problems (natch) - biggest of all is the random movement of the aliens. Second biggest prob is the fact that zapping an alien causes another one to appear across the screen almost immediately. Oh well. At least it keeps you on your toes, I s'pose. Hello - that naughty old summing-up paragraph has crept up on me unawares. Well, (cough, adjust bow tie) Reckless Rufus is a fine fun puzzle game with enough originality, action and tension to keep your heart a-thumping for quite a while (So does that mean that when you've completed the game your heart stops altogether then? Ed)No, of course not. Don't be silly. (Editors, eh?)

Overall: 90%

Summary: Uppers: It's got wonderfully stonkingly addictive (and original) puzzley gameplay. And the graphics (and sound) are top notch. Downers: It's a tough little number that doesn't forgive a single mistake. I'm not sure if it would be better without the annoying aliens. Tip-top puzzle game with splendid graphics. Dead simple and packed with playability. Hurrah!

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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