Reviewer: Richard Blaine
This is a real oddity of a game. It's based on the adventures of a strange little trio of monsters featured on a popular kids TV series - but as I am unfortunately forced to work during the day (boo, hiss). I haven't caught the programme. There was a video floating around the YS offices, but the queue to see it stretched along Oxford Street. Children's TV and cute toys seem to fascinate the magazine's editorial staff, so I gave up waiting and just slapped game in the jolly old Spectrum.
Boni the skull has been kidnapped by a nasty living down in the catacombs - cue for an animated version of said dastardly deed at the beginning of the game. You play his friends Berk and Drutt. You actually control one of them at a time, flipping from one to the other as circumstances demand. Each has its own particular abilities.
Drutt is basically a frog, or possibly a toad. He can jump very high. This is useful to dislodge keys that you will need to let you through the doors into the next section of the underground labyrinth.
He can be unreliable though, every so often a worm pokes its head up out of the ground and starts inching its way around. Drutt will immediately break off his current activity, bounce after it and devour it with relish (and mustard and pickle as well)
Berk, a large yeti-like creature with rather manic bug-eyes, lollups around the screen with a crazed but amiable look on his face, picking things up. He can even pick up Drutt. Also keys, sweets, sausages, eyes and other strangenesses, which can endow our blue friend with magical powers like flying.
I had a bit of trouble with Berk. To pick something up he has to walk up behind it and march straight at you, whereupon he makes an ungainly lunge and grabs whatever it is he's supposed to grab. If you're lucky, that is.
When I say Berk is large, I mean he's a very big sprite, as with Popeye and other games designed by the same programmer, Don Priestly. In fact, Berk must be a quarter to a third of the screen high, and other creatures are correspondingly large. As a result, bats and other beasties aren't just amorphous blobs which you recognise more by their colour than by any physical resemblence to what they are supposed to be. No, with Mr Priestly, you can see their wicked little eyes rolling, and even their fangs glinting...
I'm not entirely certain though, what age range the games aimed at. It has to be for the younger games player, who will be familiar with the TV series and certainly the enormous chunky graphics would seem to suit that market. But to be honest I found the problems you have to cope with very difficult (And you're billions of years old! Ed). Often you have to be in exactly the right position at the right time, and you must anticipate with absolute accuracy just when something's going to drop down and clobber you. And, cheating as I did by looking at the solution, I was amazed by its complexity. In many ways this is far more of a graphic adventure than an arcade game - you don't even get to zap any of the beasties that zap you!
All in all though an excellent game with a great deal of its own brand of appeal. It'll take you weeks of hard work to solve completely, and provide a lot of fun along the way. Well worth picking up - though I hope you do it with more style than Berk!
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