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Not Known
1985
Arcade: Adventure
£4.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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78
Chris Bourne

New Generation have joined the budget software market with their new sub-label, Fun 'N Games. For the moment there are just two titles in this range: Custard Kid and Cliff Hanger.

Custard Kid has elements of arcade and strategy games as well as adventure and cooking. The cooking part comes from the main theme of the game which involves collecting 12 custard recipes. The layout of the playing area is a little like that of Atic Attack where the player looks down into a room guiding the man back and forth. The adventure element of the game requires the player to find a number of different objects, the most common being the colour coded keys. If you want to go through a door to discover what is behind you must be in possession of the appropriately coloured key. The colour of the door also gives you an indication of what type of room you can expect to find on the other side. For example a red door will lead you into a either a stairway or a dungeon while a green door leads to a side corridor. You can only use each key once so keep a good stock.

The kid can only carry sixteen items, all of which are displayed in a box on the right hand side of the playing area. If you have a large selection of items in store and want to use one of them then you have to move the objects around, using the fire key, until the item you want appears in the 'in use' section. Your energy level is displayed as milk remaining in bottles below the objects carried screen.

Wooden crates are scattered around the maze. When you approach a crate, it disappears, revealing its contents. Of course you won't actually know what's under a box until you have a look and the chances are you could be very disappointed. If you expose one of the custard monsters then make good your escape, every second you remain in contact with one of these beasts, or indeed any other nasty, loses you energy. Of course you might get lucky and find something useful like a key in a crate, and you can pick it up.

Life in the factory is gets very uncomfortable if you expose too many custard monsters, as they scamper about hunting for you. However, you do have one defence against them: if you manage to collect a spoon you can use it to turn them into food, turning a drain on your energy into a means of increasing it.

To stay in the game for any period of time you must stock up with the essentials like food, to restore your energy, and custard detectors, which act like Geiger counters. The Geiger counters can generally be found in a magenta room. Once activated the custard detectors have a very limited life span so use them quickly. While you are out and about on the search for the recipes you may have the misfortune to uncover a factory guard who will whisk you off to jail. To avoid the inconvenience of having to find your way out of the dungeon maze you can try bribing the guard, providing you have collected some money in the first place.

This game offers a long list of playing options. Up to four players can take it in turns to uncover the mysteries of the custard factory or you can select play to be between two teams of two, each team having its own score.

CRITICISM

'For the money I really can't believe this game is worth the asking price. For a little less it could have been worth it. The graphics are probably its greatest failure: they are too chunky and characterless to make the game enjoyable. Without doubt a great deal of time is required to find your way around the factory, but I have a suspicion that only the dedicated mappers and explorers will get their money's worth'

'I had quite a difficult time with this game; there is great deal to do and a very large area in which to do it. The graphics are not very good but there are a number of interesting facets. The monsters are quite fun but very easy to escape from. Of all the ideas within this game I like the guards the best. If you don't manage to bribe them then you end up in the nick which means you have to work your way out of a maze before you can get back to the real work. Some people will get quite a lot out of this but it really is quite dated, in gameplay and appearance'

'At first Custard Kid seems to be a bit of a bore but after a while it grows on you. Now I can't see myself putting it away for a few hours at least. Graphically it isn't stunning but it works well enough given the animation. Sound is hardly used at all except for the odd spot effect. Playability wise there isn't a great deal that's new in this one so it doesn't appeal to me that much. It just has that something which says that you must complete it before you put it away.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: Q/W left/right, R/D up/down, X, Y to fire, CAPS to eat food and set off detectors
Joystick: Kempston and Interface II
Keyboard play: fine
Use of colour: quite attractive
Graphics: not very detailed
Sound: very little
Skill levels: one
Screens: 600 locations
General Rating: Dated but average.

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