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ZX Spectrum 48K

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Simon Forrester
Chris Bourne

I think it's probably quite fair to say at this point that spinach really is disgusting muck. There ought to be an EEC regulation on maximum daily dose (there probably already is). Popeye, however, seems to really get off on the stuff, so much so that he warrants a collection of no less that three games. (And all because of his predilection for spinach? You learn something pew every day. Ed)

On its initial release, this was hailed as a truly incredible production, as it featured some of the largest colour sprites ever seen on the Speccy. But, alack and alas, The Trap Door jumped the queue and grabbed all the attention whilst Popeye went off and cried in a solitary corner. The game itself involves collecting lots of little hearts in order to win the love of the (let's face it) painfully thin Olive Oyl, whilst avoiding Bluto, a giant prehistoric bird (don't ask), a space ship (you did, didn't you), and several aliens (and I specifically told you not to). You'll find keys, spinach and loads more goodies strewn around the game, most of which are useful in some way or other.

So what's it like? Well, the graphics are nice and bouncy, with lovely use of colour and nice smooth movement. Sound doesn't seem to have been uppermost on the programmer's mind, though it does provide the odd bleep at odd times, coupled with a natty little title tune (the hornpipe, funnily enough}. (Well, spook. Ed)

All in all, it's a funky little game that's nicely moderated difficulty-wise. with loads to explore. and (Here's the important bit! Ed.) actually fun to play. Hurrah!

Ever played Donkey Kong? If so you'll probably recognise a definite element of that very game in Popeye 2. There are platforms, objects, falling barrels and a huge gorilla (Slop lying. Ed) Okay so there's no gorilla, and there are no points for originality either. (Not that it matters that much, you know.)

Graphically this game doesn't stand out. It's a vertical stroller, but with a flick screen (if you see what I mean). Most of the game is in monochrome, but that's no real problem, as the lack of colour doesn't detract from the game either. Sonically. It's the same story as Popeye, with sound effects used sparingly but, erm, effectively.

The game revolves around a simple plot, all you've got to is rescue the despairing maid Olive Oyl from the clutches of the evil Bluto (yawn). That's all. When you've done that, feel free to go home. Put your feet up and have a cuppa. Read a good book.

There are loads of other characters wandering around the game, with Swee'Pea perpetually falling off various platforms and plunging to a certain slow and painful death (except he never actually gets hurt). bit like the baby in The Icicle Thief, then? Ed) Erm, probably. Anyway, there's that chubby chap Wimpy to get past by collecting enough hamburgers to make sure he's too busy stuffing his face to notice you.

Popeye 2 is actually quite good whole fun, and it gets better with each play. A real grower. (Eh? Ed)

Oh dear, it's always the same with these compilations. There are two games you'll love and one that even its mother would have trouble smiling at. Actually, that's a bit strong. Popeye 3 isn't that bad, but it's not that good either. The entire concept of fun seems to have been dropped by the wayside.

The hideously contrived plot runs as follows: an intergalactic wrestling championship has been arranged between all the planets, with Popeye representing Earth. That's it: it's a wrestling game. End of story.

Well, maybe not quite the end. Before I go, I'll tell you that the graphics are really quite decent, there's a nice array of strange blobs round the side of the ring watching, and a whole bunch of different looking aliens to fight.

Playing this game is, to say the least, unbelievably impossibly difficult. It revolves around getting an alien in a grapple (walking up to it), and waggling your joystick back and forth as much possible (or pounding your keyboard through the desk). You do this twice, and then you fall to the floor. The alien then jumps up and down on your face for a while, and you start all over again. The one easy tactic in this game is to out run your opponent, though you'll need a lot of patience, as there doesn't seem to be a time limit to the fights (Bit of a crap tactic then. Ed) Look, it's not very good. Basically.

Popeye 3 is a very unsatisfying game and it detracts from an otherwise Megagame-ish compilation.


Screenshot Text

'Tractor' Bill Peachley was known and feared throughout the little town of Jeremy. His fearsome bare-knuckle fighting prowess made him the undisputed champion of penny-a-point ludo.

'The world seems so much more Cubist this morning,' remarked Sergeant Otter as he did something terribly interesting just inside the lighthouse where we can't see.

It was a gripping expose of the gulf between rich and poor. As lady Sophia admired her diamond ring, Robert lay unconscious just short of a nourishing bun. Sadly, the film failed to take off at the box office.

It seemed like the perfect crime. Thomas Timkins insured his wife for a vast sum, then, on the night of October the fourth, left home to become a builder. But, tragically, he got it completely wrong.

Bruce turned with desperate speed, but Lionel's thrust was true. The brave tanner slumped to the ground. 'If only Felicity had like pumpkin,' he thought bitterly. Lionel wept silently that night.

Thank you Aunt Silly and Benjy the performing Beagle. And now on Channel Sixteen! From Hollywood! Let Reverend Jim Thighs and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir regale you an hour of meaningful entertainment. Take it away, Reverend Jim.