Ocean Software Ltd
Denton Designs
1987
Arcade: Action
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

32,33
Graham Taylor
Chris Bourne

Frankie goes to Hollywood was not a successful game. I mention this in the context of Double Take because Frankie got rave reviews and was regarded as incredibly inventive and imaginative.

Double Take is incredibly inventive and imaginative and if the same fate befalls it the game - buying public deserves all the appalling licencing deals based on terrible films it gets.

Actually reading the Double Take blurb boggles the mind. You get the sinking feeling the game is going to be absolutely impossible to understand. It isn't. At one level it's a straight zap-em-up, well, not straight exactly more multi-dimensional. At another level its a leap (quantum) into a surreal world where realities mix and the familiar is odd. Double Take is strange.

The idea is this: due to unforeseen circumstances matter and anti-matter have met, two universes have collided and as a result things are pretty unstable. You have to get everything back to normal. The way you do this is to explore what could, in other circumstances, be the rooms of a Wally game (big graphics, household objects, a smidgen of attribute problems).

What you are looking for is, simply, things that are 'wrong' - objects that are out of place and must therefore properly belong to the 'other' universe. You have to get such objects and, return them to the other universe.

Curiously enough (a sign that there are limits to how many new ideas you can actually get in a computer game) one way you can get the object back to the right universe is just to zap aliens. I forgot to mention the aliens, they are of marginally original design but appear in the tried and tested Ultimate style. You don't have to do anything other than kill them.

There are other ways of getting an object from one universe to another - the deeply mysterious 'sparking cloud' is created which provides a tunnel.

So here's how it goes. You (a disembodied overcoat - and why not?) travel around entering and leaving a variety of rooms (via whirlwinds rather than doors). Some rooms look like caverns, other rooms look like laboratories. As it happens I had my first success in the game in a room which was simultaneously an operating theatre and a woodwork room. Having spotted an object that looks somehow odd or out of context you pick it up and 'stabilise' it - sort of get its matter state back to normal - and then wait for the universe state to swing again (or cross universes via the sparkling cloud). Get the picture.

After playing the game for a little while, you realise that actually what we have here is not, despite all evidence to the contrary, some horrendously complicated strategy-cum-adventure-cum-sub-atomic-physics game but actually is just a damn fine arcade game, with more inventiveness than half a dozen other titles.

The graphics are good with effective use of a particularly neat 'dissolve' when the universe switches from one to the other - a process which gathers pace as time passes.

The last section of the game after you have stabilised the universe concerns a battle with a cosmic being called Sumink (a joke I imagine). This involves first finding him/her/it in the anti-matter world using a series of sensor lights and then blasting - it feels a little like an afterthought but who cares?

Label: Ocean
Author: Denton Designs
Price: £7.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

*****

Incredibly imaginative arcade game, with cartloads of fresh ideas professionally implemented - deserves to be big.

5/5