Mirrorsoft Ltd
Rod Bowkett
1985
Arcade: Platform
£6.95
£1.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

26,27
Chris Bourne

Designing elegant graphics so that loads of screens add up to some sort of building, has been all the rage since JSW, but this new Mirrorsoft platform games takes the idea about as far as possible, and features one of the most classically elegant buildings in any game. Dan's girlfriend (our pre-production copy lacks a scenario) appears to have been locked in the vast safe tucked in the depths of a massive porticoed, pillared mansion inhabited by a variety of unpleasant denizens. Dan arrives on the roof (trendily in time for the new Bond movie) in an airship, descends from it, and commences a mission of rescue. Should you enter the screen containing the safe, you'll see the girl pacing up and down in frustration and, presumably, in an advancing state of asphixiation.

The collectable objects in this game are sticks of dynamite (eight needed to blow the safe), a weapon to defend yourself with against the rioting rotters, and food to keep up the energy level that distressed damsel rescuing demands. Food is a relatively simple find - being a wealthy house, there's plenty lying around, but dynamite tends to hide in very inaccessible places; worse still, it isn't in the same place each game.

The house is divided up into 48 slightly overlapping screens, six high, eight wide, but they wrap around horizontally, making the building effectively a cylinder. All along the bottom runs a river. This can be negotiated by waiting for a raft to float by, jumping down onto it and keeping up with it by walking at its speed. Falling into the river is quite fatal, unless you have been lucky enough to discover an oxygen bottle somewhere. Above the river is a warren of foliage-lined caves and grottos, gradually mingling with the bowels of the house, pump rooms, boiler rooms, electricty-generator and store rooms. Above these are the commodious living apartments with libraries, bathrooms, dining rooms, sitting rooms and the like. The building is topped off by the roof with its chimneys and classically domed towers.

Different features include trampolines and entire trampoline rooms, tightropes, several teleports and an all-floors lift. Dan himself is a large animated character with a fair-sized jump, which he needs to negotiate the complexities of the house and avoid the numerous nasties, although if he falls too far he loses a life.

And just to add a little extra excitement to solving the puzzle, a nice lady at Mirrorsoft told us that the first person to phone them with the name of the tune played when the airship takes off at the end of the game will win a flight in the Goodyear blimp.

CRITICISM

'The graphics used in this game are outstanding - a joy to look at. The detail of the buildings and especially the grass and caves is marvellous - it just makes you want to play. The way the screens are laid out is pleasingly logical and there are some nasty traps like the well which goes all the way dooooowwwwn! The arrangement is really a cylinder with a great chasm between the halves of the house, but small platforms, often tiny triangles, do stop you falling to your death in the river.'

'One thing I enjoyed is the way you have to leap from some platform high in the sky into another screen without knowing where you will land - although after a few exploratory trips, you get to know the layout. However, the placement of objects is altered between games to add to lasting appeal. Another favourite are the trampolines, these work by sending you higher each time you land pressing fire. They allow you to make gigantic leaps up through screens and even running jumps across several screens at a time - useful. The animation of the nasties is excellent, very varied, very colourful, and this game as the largest assortment of tunes I've come across. Dynamite Dan is a JSW clone, but it's definitely a worthy successor, and a highly playable, fun and addictive game.'

'Mirrorsoft don't produce many arcade-action games, but certainly the ones they do release are of a pretty high standard. Dynamite Dan has to be one of the most tuneful games I've encountered, and it is not surprising to learn that its author, is a musician in his day job. While platform jumping games are regarded as out of fashion in some circles, the overall combination of sound, graphics and effects in this game combine to make it extremely good value entertainment. There's life in the old genre yet!'

COMMENTS
Control keys: definable
Joystick: any
Keyboard play: good
Use of colour: excellent
Graphics: first class
Sound: mega-brill
Skill levels: one
Screens: nearly fifty
General Rating: Superb, value for money game.

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