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Arcade: Platform
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Jerry Muir
Chris Bourne

ONCE AGAIN the pantomime season has arrived and all around the country poor Aladdin is being banished to the Wizard's Cave, which is just where he starts in this seasonal offering from Artic. Don't expect the kung fu heroics of today's other oriental games, though, because Aladdin, with its platforms and ladders, is as traditional as the panto itself.

With a-lad-in the cave the first aim is to get him out again and to do this you'll need all the usual skills in timing and placing, plus a bit of observation to watch the regular patterns of the deadly nasties, which include falling boulders, spiders and birds. One odd hazard here is that if you hit a wall or rocky outcrop you bounce back, so you have to be careful when you leap.

Naturally there are objects to collect and those too have an unusual function. Collect them all off a screen before leaving it and you may find they give you the power to transform yourself into an animal, which will get you through a later screen. The only way you'll get past the underground river is as a dolphin. The other transformations are monkey, bird and genie.

Other objects include weapons and spells and you'll need these for later, because - instead of being a sensible youth and running home to Widow Twanky - you have to cross the desert, bribe your way into the city, and challenge the Wizard in his lair.

The game has been written with a certain amount of style and the cave backgrounds, all glowing colour against black, are very artistic. It's a pity, though, that your figure is so small and that he appears to fall through rocks in places. There are also instances where death is annoyingly premature. The sound is hardly stunning but the game opens with a reasonable rendition of Scherezade.

All in all, Aladdin isn't as dumb as the average platform and ladder game and it has some nice features, but Artic is a long-established company and its programs are beginning to look a bit long in the tooth.

While it's no Christmas turkey, neither is it much more than a stocking filler, and I can't help thinking that this sort of thing is better suited to a budget range nowadays.

Jerry Muir

Publisher: Artic
Programmer: Keith Purkiss
Price: £6 95
Memory: 48K
Joystick: Kempston, cursor