However unfair it is, Bobby Bearing and Spindizzy are remarkably similar in both layout and gameplay and Spindizzy was out first.
And yet when you look closer there are differences and - of all the Marble Madness clones - Bobby Bearing is top of the list on the graphics front.
Bobby Bearing is the sob story of a young ball bearing(!) who has to roll out on to the Metaplanes and rescue his four brothers and one cousin from the evil bearings. Is The Edge being serious?
And so off Bobby trundles to search and search and roll round in circles - it's bound to happen to you too. Each screen displays - like Spindizzy - a sometimes short, sometimes complex section of the landscape. Arrows point to exits. Sometimes it looks as if an earthquake's torn the land in two then thrust the plates together to form a higgledy-piggledy mess of mountains, valleys, gentle slopes and steep escarpments.
The graphics are stupendous as these games go, and carry what The Edge calls 'Curvispace 3D'. A fancy name for a fancy bit of programming. The authors have managed to create the impression of perfectly spherical tunnels, grooves, ball bearings etc. And the movement is on a par with the graphics - fast, fluid and the antics of a ball have been lovingly and accurately copied.
Spindizzy with its spare rather crude design sometimes looks quite uninteresting by comparison.
Rolling through valleys and mountainous regions, Bobby must keep a watchful eye for one of his brothers. Stunned, and often guarded by a black bearing with gnashing teeth, he must push the inert ball before him back to the family bunker.
It's all horribly difficult. There are moving blocks to use as lifts, some of which need to be triggered by floor switches before they'll move. There are magnets which'll draw the bearings into danger and air ducts to be used as breezy lifts. It's difficult enough getting yourself through this hell-hole of an obstacle course, but pushing another bearing in front of you is suicidal.
Getting squashed by moving bricks is perhaps the most usual death, leaving you as flat as a pancake. There again you might only be half-squashed, that leaves you in a very funny shape with the crooked smile still pinned to your lips.
In any case it won't be there long. You don't exactly lose a life, instead you lose vital time.
As you venture further afield you seem to come across more complex problems - convoluted screens interspersed with long, sections of chutes and corridors.
The fact is that if you lose a brother on the way home, you're not given another chance, and with only three out of four saved, you can't win. However, it's the cousin, the last one you collect which you should worry about. Apart from being more tricky to drag home. The Edge has other things planned to hinder you still further. Perhaps the screens' layout will change, or maybe your access will be blocked. I can't help here - I didn't get that far.
Bobby Bearing could keep me happy for hours. It's a pleasure to play and, though the puzzles are about as difficult as those in Spindizzy, the graphics beat it hands down. My only criticism is the sound which is blocked out when using a Kempston interface - the satisfying burbles, squeaks and splats on the Spectrum return when you use the keyboard.
If you've already got Spindizzy, I don't suppose you'll want another of the same.
On the other hand if you haven't got it, or Gyroscope, or Quazatron or... then it's the one to go for.
Label: The Edge
Authors: Robert and Trevor Figgins
Reviewer: Clare Edgeley
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