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Arcade: Adventure
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Andy Wilton
Chris Bourne

Mischief in the jungle with Gremlin.

Sequels are big news at the moment: if you haven't bought Enlightenment (Druid II) it's probably because you're saving your money for Gauntlet II. Impossible Mission II, Matchday II or some such follow-up. Now here's another contender for that cash: Coconut Capers, being the further adventures of that troublesome tot Jack the Nipper.

After his outrageously naughty behaviour in the original game, so the scenario goes, Jack is arrested and shoved on the first plane to Australia. He bails out en route however, and parachutes into the jungle below. Now you take control of Jack, dodging or fighting the jungle's many dangerous occupants - wild animals, wild natives, wild parents and the like - and indulging in various naughty deeds.

These familiar objectives may make Jack sound like it's simply a tropical reworking of the original Jack, but nothing could be further from the truth. Coconut Capers doesn't have the rashometer, the breakability or the unusual 3D of its predecessor. Instead it has gaps to jump, ropes and ladders to climb, and a whole load of instantly lethal creatures, objects and drops to avoid. It has timing problems with alligators and floating logs, it has vines to swing on, it has rope-bridges and tree-houses in the jungle canopy to leap between. It is - in case the penny still hasn't dropped - a platform game.

It's not just a platform game mind you - there are those naughty deeds to do, and plentiful weapons let you shoot your way through some problems - but it is mostly a matter of judging gaps and getting your timing right. The naughty deeds involve finding useful objects - grease, pineapples or toffee for example - which you can take elsewhere and wreak havoc with. Usually the object is quite some distance from the location you need it in, so without good platform skills you probably wont make it. Of course, you could cover that distance only to find you've got the wrong object: some of the puzzles can be pretty obscure, to say the least, and you can only carry one object at a time.

Objects aren't the only things to pick up in the jungle. There are also dummies, which give you an extra life if you've lost some of the nine you started with; native shields, which give you protection against most forms of death for a limited time; and weapons, notably coconuts which you can throw at jungle nasties. As with the objects used in naughty deeds, you can only carry one weapon at a time.

Other game features like slippery slopes, lava and swamp pools, impassable fires and Indiana Jones-style mine cars all add variety to the proceedings, but the game does have its problems. The nasties are reset every time you leave a screen, even if you only do so momentarily in mid-jump, and Jack's so small he can die repeatedly while hidden from view behind tree-trunks or the like - both of these adding to the considerable frustration any platform game has to offer.

The real problem for most people won't be minor frustrations however, but the fact that Jack II is largely a platform game. There's a huge mapping task to get on with - 192 screens, and no names to identify them by - and those naughty deeds are pretty tricky even when you know what you're supposed to be doing, but the gameplay is dated to say the least. Graphically it's a treat, colour clashes to one side, and the game's little musical jokes - a bit of the Stingray theme tune if you fall in the water, or a snatch of Agadoo when you pick up the pineapple - give it audio appeal too. If it's a dinosaur in gameplay terms it's a slick and very well-presented dinosaur, but you'd be hard put to call it an advance on the original.

Reviewer: Andy Wilton

C64/128, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
Spec £7.99cs, Reviewed
Ams, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Reviewed

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 60/100
1 hour: 65/100
1 day: 75/100
1 week: 70/100
1 month: 40/100
1 year: 15/100

Takes time and effort to get into.

Great cartoony graphics, but some bad clashes.
Witty snatches of tunes.
Lots to map.
Needs perseverance.

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The CPC Jack II's very well drawn, but the use of four colours rather than sixteen lets it down a bit graphically. Good sound is the only other difference from the Spectrum version.

Screenshot Text

Before: That apeman is just asking for a dunking, but how do you get him off that vine?

After: Tarzan's taken a dip and your naughtyometer's gone up a bit. Easy when you know how!