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US Gold Ltd
1988
Arcade: Action
£8.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Alkatraz Protection System

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46,47
Chris Jenkins
Chris Bourne

You can't say, "Psycho Pig is like Maniac Corpse Munchers, with a bit of Space Vegetables thrown in," 'cos it's a brand new format; whether it's a good one is another question.

Converted from a little-seen Jaleco coin-op called Mr Pig, or Pigs and Bombs or something, Psycho Pig UXB is a non-stop epic of porcine pulverisation. Yes, the idea is to smash those swine, and the sausages really start flying from the first screen.

Although the backgrounds are resolutely dull - they just change colour from level to level - there's a kind of depth effect which gives a 3-D impression (but no more than an impression) as you move around the screen.

The screen's full of bombs and pigs. The aim is to use the bombs to blow up the pigs, and avoid being blown to bits of bacon yourself. You get lots of lives to start with (you'll need them) and the graphics and animation are cute, though not unusually clever (no use of colour, for a start).

Before you start each round, you're treated to a pig parade in which you're shown all the enemies you have to face on the next level. Blackie is described as "grim", Reddie as "obstinate" and so on, but since you can't tell one from another at the game's playing (and they all act the same anyway), what's the point?

On to the game itself. As the timer ticks away, you have to zoom around picking up bombs. Each bomb has a timer; picking it up activates the timer, which ticks away until you throw the bomb. Hang on to it too long and you'll be reduced to chipolatas as you fly gracefully across the screen. If you manage to throw the bomb in time, it will explode on contact with any of your bomb-throwing opponents. If you miss, though, the bomb will come to rest, and can be picked up again.

Various bonus items can be picked up. Tonic gives you a longer throw; rice balls allow you to run faster; gas capsules can put some enemies to sleep; some objects score you bonus points or lives, and the protective suit turns you into a little armoured piggy, resistant to one direct hit. If your reactions are fast enough, you can even duck under flying bombs (with trotters over eyes). On bonus levels, you have to dash around a circle of pig-pits, kissing other piggies on the snout. On subsequent levels, you meet faster moving, heavily armoured pigs, bouncing bombs and shorter fuses.

Basically, opinion in the jolly old office was sharply divided. Tony "Megadeath" Dillon liked the Brechtian juxtaposition of cuteness and violence. Jim "Sid the Sexist" Douglas saw Bergmanesque irony in the underlying themes. (Wah? Noone asked me - TH). I thought it was good for a quick porking, but I wouldn't want to be stranded on a desert island with it.

Nice try then but I think the predicted interest curve would plummet fairly sharply after the first couple of bashes.

Label: US Gold
Author: Software Creations
Price: £8.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

Cutesy-wutesy but less than rivetting pig-out.

58%
65%
65%
40%
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