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Activision Inc
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Chris Bourne

Zenji is a rather difficult game to describe, and even Activision themselves prefer to let the inlay slip into esoteric eastern mysticism! The object of Zenji, it says, is to connect all Elements to the Source. But, in playing the game, it becomes dear that the approach required is a kind of letting go, rather than planning ahead.

So what is Zenji? Well it is a kind of computer puzzle, yet it seems to have been programmed in such a way that the obvious is excluded. There seems to be no, 'Ah got it!' stage in playing the game, whereby you suddenly see the point and then know how to go about it. Each screen provides a maze of increasing size and complexity with each maze intersection being contained within a red or green gate. At the start some pathways are coloured yellow and some blue. You are a small revolving face, and the object is to make all the paths yellow. This is done by moving to an intersection and revolving the gate. This has the effect of perhaps cutting you off from the path you have just traced, whilst opening other connections and turning a new section yellow. By moving around thus, it is possible to find the right gates in the right combination to make all the maze paths turn yellow.

Bonus scores are added on (you score each time you make a right connection) if you connect up a section of path to the main part which contains a flashing number, which decreases each second after it appears. You are also pursued by flames of desire, more of them as you progress. These must by either avoided by running away, or blocked off by the fortuitous revolving of a gate which may close off their path to you. To make matters even worse there is a very strict time limit imposed. If you succeed, then you move onto a bigger maze, whereas failure to connect up in time results in being returned to the same maze for another try .


'Zenji is an odd combination of straightforward puzzle game and oriental mantra. I don't know whether it's fair to call it addictiveness that kept me playing, or whether it was hypnotism! The game certainly has something though. My main worry as far as Activision is concerned, is that lots of people flicking through the inlay card will be put off the game because is says so little. That may well be the point, but it can't help sales surely? All I can say is that it's well worth spending some time getting the hang of the game. The graphics are super-neat, especially the revolving effect. I also like 'you,' really having a ball with a face on either side and you can see the details of both faces as ft revolves, left and right as well as up and over. I don't know whether I could recommend this game because it's so hard to explain and someone might well buy ft and hate it - all I know is that I enjoyed it totally - very absorbing.'

'It had to happen sometime - a game in which you must rely on intuition, sensing, letting go and all the usual psychic powers bit to compete. Well I gave it a go and after losing several times I still hadn't go a clue. Then after completing the path several times, I still hadn't got a clue. Maybe I'm some sort of emotionless zombie or android or something, but I sure couldn't let go and 'feel' the way. I don't think I'm addicted -but it's different. I hope it's me and this not a case of the King's new clothes - remember the invisible ones?'

'At first I couldn't play this game at all - what was the idea I said? After about 15 minutes the idea became apparent - it was a simple idea, just the fact that it was mind-bending and overwhelming made it damned difficult. On the inlay card it says, "Players can feel their way through the maze and use tactics that combine intuition with technical skill." I didn't understand that at first, but now I appreciate this statement after playing the game for a couple of hours. The graphics, colour and sound have been used very well. I cannot complain at all. Perfect! After about 2 hours I'm just getting into this mind-bending game, a totally addictive, playable one that is worth every penny. Only your mind will win this game, not just fast reactions. Brill!'

Control keys: Z/W up/down, O/P left /right, Z to turn
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair, Protek, AGF
Keyboard play: good positions and responsive
Use of colour: very good, very colourful
Graphics: good, smooth and fast although simple
Sound: simple but continuous
Skill levels: progressive difficulty, 8 entry points
Lives: 3
Special features: 2-player games
General Rating: Highly original and challenging puzzle type game which will probably met a mixed reception!