I was about to say that Spike the Viking couldn't possibly have been shipwrecked in Transylvania as the instructions reckon he has been) because Transylvania is right in the middle of Romania and covered in trees and mountains.
You can't even see the sea from it (unless you climb to the top of the tallest mountain and squint really hard). And anyway, what would the Vikings be doing raping and pillaging in Eastern Europe when they'd be lucky to get a longboat across the North Sea, let alone the Black Sea, eh?
Then I noticed that it's actually Transilvania with an 'i' we're talking about here. Those canny Codies are one step ahead of me once again. Transilvania with an 'i' is a completely different kettle of fish. Not only is it within a stone's throw of Norway, but it's also a whole lot more scary than Transylvania with a 'y'. So scary, in fact, that all Spike's shipmates have been locked up in the dungeons of the local castle and are currently undergoing the most horrible torture imaginable. That all right, then. (The only weird thing is that the instructions contain an 0898 number for help on Spike In Transilvania with a 'y'. Maybe there's a squeal afoot.)
HERE WE GO (AGAIN)
So, with lots of vikings who're scattered all round a large 3D(ish) castle, and a cute little character wandering about trying to rescue them, the scene is set for a traditional Codies walk-around-solving-puzzles game. It kicks off in a cottage in the village where Spike has been taken in by a friendly local. But the door won't open. Cripe, two femtoseconds into the game and a puzzle already! Tell you what, I'll tell you this one for nowt (just to prove I plat these things properly) - pick up the door knob that's lying on the floor next to you.
As the game unfolds, and you get a bit bored of exploring the village, you'll find the main entrance to the castle. Hurrah! Trouble is, it's blocked by a guard with strict instructions to turn away anyone with horns sticking out of their helmet. Don't panic, though. There's a way in, only I'm not going to tell you it. (Although I do know, honest). The castle's a huge place, with dark, smelly dungeons and terrifyingly high battlements. And lots in between too, like bedrooms, banquetting halls and staircases. What's more, most of them are haunted by ghosts, or rats and bats at the very least. Luckily, however, there's space left for all the objects and things you'll need to collect in order to solve all the puzzles. There are also 'characters' which you can 'interact' with - mainly a case of giving them something and hoping it's what they're after. They tend to hint at what this might be when you bump into them. Eg. If someone won't let you past, but say 'Gosh, I'm hungry' (or words to that effect) he's sure to want something to eat.
The other thing you'll need to do as you're solving puzzles is collect keys. These are needed to let your chums out of their cells, whereupon they'll thank you and scarper, leaving you to complete the quest on your own. Tsk.
SO WHAT'S THE COP?
So given that the Codies have written absolutely hundreds of these sorts of things before, and every single one of them (that I can think of) has been absolutely brilliant, what's this one like? Could they possibly have gone on walk-around-solving-puzzles game too far, and made a complete hash of it? In a word, no. Spike In Transilvania is another corker, just as good as Dizzy and friends. What a relief, eh?
There are one or two minor problettes, though. For a start, Spike's a bit crap in that he can't jump. This means that even somehing as innocuous as a chair represents an impenetrable barrier too him, and indeed chairs are often used to mark the edges of the bits he's allowed to go in. It just looks a bit silly, that's all. And the other things is that to pick something up you've got to be standing right over it - a fraction of a pixel above or below just won't do.
But as far as graphics, sound and general presentation go, Spike's the icing on the proverbial doughnut. And it's fun to play too. Easy enough for hopeless cases like me, but with enough of a challenge, and enough screens to map, to keep the majority of Spec-chums occupied for ages. Looks like I fled Tipshop in the nick of time - in a few weeks time it's likely to disappear under sackloads of Spike tips.
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