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Mark Rivers
Arcade: Platform
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

Other Links

Richard Blaine
Chris Bourne

Personally. I always thought Erik was a Viking: but then, I suppose there's no reason why he shouldn't be a singing Viking...

Enough foolishness and on with the plot, Erik The Phantom Of The Opera revolves around your attempts to rescue your beloved girlfriend (yup, another sexist arcade game folks) Christine (and I thought Christine was a car?), from the clutches of the eponymous Erik.

Christine, you see, is the latest star of the Paris Opera - Erik is a musical genius driven mad by a terrible accident which scarred his face so badly that he has to wear a mask, meaning he's really loopy and all that. Oh, and you're Raoul, Christine's boyfriend.

Erik is holding Christine prisoner in a cavern beneath the Opera - a very luxurious cavern, though, as he has plundered the props department to furnish it as a des res, complete with enormous organ (oo-er). You have to make your way through the traps which he has left behind, collecting the keys to the doors which you have to get through to get to the cavern.

"Aha!" The serried ranks of YS readers exclaim "this is based on the West End musical wot Andrew Loaded Webber writ. "It's a licensing deal, guv!" Well, in a word, no. It's actually based on the original novel by some French bloke (Garcon something or other) written last century the same source which provided the idea for half a dozen movies and the Lloyd Webber flummery. Crysys Software, the publishers, can do this because the original book, and thus the plot, was written by someone who has been dead for more than 50 years. This means that the copyright on his works has expired and everything is in the public domain. So no writs, write...er right?

Now let's plunge (oo-er!) into the program. It's a graphic adventure, if you like - others might be more honest and call it an arcade game - and, if you felt like being really basic about the whole thing, you could label it a platform and ladders game.

You control Raoul, who, for some reason, looks more like a skeletal butler than a heroic intrepid 19th century Indiana Jones. With his bowler firmly wedged on his spritish head he has to wander through the splendour of the Opera House, climbing stairs and ladders and searching all over for the missing keys. But, while he's doing so, these nasty gribbly monsters are trying best to sap away at his life force. If he loses all of it, then he drops dead, and Christine is doomed to keep o n practising her scales until she too perishes.

There are a number of different types of monster: some just act and look like bowling balls, while others are bouncing skulls and bombs, and there's something that looks like an animated fizz You can, if you're lucky and plucky enough, shoot them with your trusty revolver, but if they touch you, then down goes your energy level.

Unfortunately, the whole thing doesn't work quite as well as it should have done. The graphics are a bit disappointing especially in the backgrounds (although there are some very good touches, like the way Raoul holds on to his hat when he jumps). And, while the game play is fairly interesting at first, it can get a bit repetitive after a while - it's the old shall-I-duck or shall-I-jump business again.

Still, if you're a platform and ladders fan, then you'll probably quite enjoy this one, although it's not the most taxing of its genre. If you're not, and you prefer more problem solving in your arcade adventures, then don't bother.

Average plattie that has bog all to do with A. Lloyd Webber's moneyspinner - and it's all the better for that!