by Dragoljub Andjelkovic, Dusko Dimitrijevic, F. David Thorpe, Mario Mandic, Bob Wakelin
Imagine Software Ltd
Sinclair User Issue 48, Mar 1986   page(s) 58,59

Publisher: Imagine
Programmer: Dusko Dimitrijevic
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K
Joystick: Kempston

Marlowe stood and stared out of the dirty window. It was hot in the office and his long raincoat and matching snap-brim brought out the sweat.

As if on cue he turned and walked to his desk. He found nothing there to give him a clue to the location of the cassette tape which would lead to the biggest gangster bust N.Y. had ever seen.

The girl must be somewhere, and her evil sister not far behind. If he picked right the girl would take him to the cassette, if wrong her sister would lead him to his death.

Hands in pockets, he walked out into the alleys and mean streets of gangster city.

You're the director of this screen play but the executive producers at Imagine dictate the script. Movie uses similar perspective graphics to those in Knight Lore, from Ultimate, and Fairlight, from The Edge. The concept, however, has not been tackled before in such an original manner and the graphics successfully create a seedy, sleazy, atmosphere.

One departure from the traditional Ultimate approach to 3D arcade adventures is the ability to converse with characters in the game. The detective in Movie can talk to gangsters, parrots and mysterious women. Press the speak icon and a balloon will appear at your detective's mouth. Type in a question, such as 'Do you want the money?' and the listener will reply using the same type of speech balloon.

The balloons extend the Ultimate technique and give the game a comic book feel. Usually, only the good guys will talk to you, although the evil twin sister may say a word or two.

You control your private eye through the icons at the bottom of the screen, using a spy glass as a cursor. They are easy to understand and with them you can manipulate objects, speak, shoot, and hold or abort the game.

In the beginning the detective has no clues or means of defence. He must find them in the maze of rooms and streets. Initially you should not be looking for the lady with the answers. Your first task should be to find weapons.

Because the background colours and the character colours are the same, weapons blend into the scenery. Your gun, which is only two rooms from your office, will probably go unnoticed the first few times you enter the location. Walk through the blue reception and you will find it on a juke box in the yellow room.

Picking up objects can be irritating. You may have to try several times before you get the correct angle, either head-on or central to the object. Any deviation in angle, even by millimeters, and the object will refuse to be lifted.

On some occasions objects will be out of reach, on top of a stack of packing cases or perched on an old wireless set. To get them down you must use one of the objects you already have and use the throw option. Bags and guns can be rescued in that way with no trouble, but if you aim to knock a bomb from the top of four packing cases you will be in for an explosive time.

The weapons are not easy to use, as the gangsters which you come up against shoot on sight. For that reason you should enter each room with extreme caution. Move the detective to one side of the doorway before entering. The gangsters tend to shoot towards the centre of the doorway and you get no second chance if you're shot - it's back to the beginning and, with no Save option to allow you to choose the place of your reincarnation, you'll have to start collecting objects again.

Bombs are no more efficient than guns. They have a very localised effect and you can be in the same room with victims when it explodes.

The problem is to get the victims directly over the bomb. To do that you should wait for the gangsters to get near you, throw the bomb and then punch them. They will back away into the path of the bomb.

Alternatively, you can lob the bomb indiscriminately when you enter a room. Be wary, though, as the bomb only travels a short distance and most gangsters tend to be in the middle, or far side of the room.

Once armed you must find a bag. a bomb, and a wad of money. They can all be found in the same places on each play of the game.

Although you are free to get the objects in any order the most sensible - and shortest - way is to pick up the bag after the gun, then the money and then try and find a bomb.

To find the bag you must first leave your office building, walk up or down a back street to a dead end and enter a music hall. You can go into the auditorium. The bag is somewhere in there, together with a nasty-looking gangster and a harmless good guy.

On the way back from the manager's office take a peek into the white room. The mystery girl may be in there.

Collecting the money is a more difficult affair and one in which you will encounter a Mafia hit man who, if you are not quick on your reflexes, always gets his man. To avoid him walk to the right of the doorway then, gritting your teeth, enter and head straight towards the mobster. His fire will have no effect and you'll be able to turn left into the next room.

The route to the money takes you through six narrow alleys, each a different colour. Once through the alleys a quick jaunt through two offices, an empty room and a small room will bring you to the spondula, lying on the floor of yet another office.

The money is obviously for bribery and you don't have to look hard to find a likely candidate. You may be wondering why some gangsters make no attempt to kill you, but seem to want you to stay and talk.

In this way you might get some cryptic information, including a clue to help you in your search for the cassette.

Bombs are found in bars and store rooms - balanced on tables or crates. Once you have collected the money a bomb will be useful and you'll find one in the same building as the bank notes - in a bar protected by two heavies.

Gangsters you can destroy with bombs and bullets, but there are other obstacles which will get between you and the incriminating tape. When I first played the game I thought it was a straight detective story faithful to the spirit of Dashiell Hammet or Raymond Chandler. Soon, however, I walked into an audition for Poltergeist with articles of furniture, suits of armour, balls and dogs flying around rooms. Those are aimed - literally - at the arcade player.

They all have different methods of movement and timing. Knights move their counterparts on a chessboard - at right angles - while dogs swoop from the ceiling and balls roll up and down rooms horizontally, vertically but never diagonally. Some rooms contain more than one type of obstacle and a few have immovable crates to further complicate matters. All of the rooms have a solution.

Unfortunately, the mystery girl is not so easy to locate or, dare I say it, control. The program dumps the girl anywhere on the map when the program begins but there are some places in which I would advise you to look first.

The white room in the music hall is a favourite haunt. I found her there several times. She can also be found in an office in the building marked by potted plants, down the alley leading from your building.

On first impressions her character is animated smoothly and well. Imagine probably blames her high-heeled shoes for the strut with which she walks, though after a time it seems mechanical and irritating to watch.

Is she supposed to lead you to the cassette tape? That's hard to believe when she can't even negotiate a plant pot standing in a doorway. She kept getting stuck in the leaves and even with help couldn't unravel herself.

Her evil sister puts in the odd appearance but there is no physical way of telling them apart. You could try talking to her - if nothing else it might get her moving.

If you ask her the right question she might also betray herself. When she says 'I hate you' you will get the feeling that all is not quite right. If, however, you insist on following her she will waste your time and then lead you into the arms of the Boss's hit men.

Success in Movie is measured by two ratings. The first is a percentage score based on the number of locations you have visited. Moving around from location to location is easy and you are likely to end up with a hefty number of points.

The other score which ranges from 0.00 to 0.99 is calculated on the number of special objects you have, the number of clues you have taken advantage of, and the puzzles solved.

If your score is 0.15 and you have the gun, bomb, money and password - which amongst other things will help you get into some guarded rooms - you'll be doing well. It took me several hours of play to get that far.

Movie's graphics may not be better than Ultimate's and, compared to Fairlight, they're a little creaky, but the novel plot makes it a winner.

The seedy atmosphere, together with the innovative bubble speech makes the long hours which you'll have to put into crack the puzzle well worthwhile. It's a story worthy of the movies.

Overall: 5/5

Award: Sinclair User Classic

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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