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1990
Arcade: Action
£9.99
English
ZX Spectrum 128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

82,83
David Wilson
Chris Bourne

Circuses may well be dubbed 'the greatest show on Earth' but they've hardly inspired many corkeroony Speccy games, have they? (Tynesoft's Circus Games? Nuff said.) But (but! but!) things might be about to change, 'cos here, flush from its success on the 16-bit posh-jobs, is Fiendish Freddy's Big Top O' Fun. Published by Mindscape, it won awards for best graphics and ad (!) at the 1989 annual industry dinner, and, what's more, the Speccy version's been converted by Imagitec, the programmers responsible for coding that YS Megagame Times Of Lore by MicroProse. Sounds promising? Well, here we go...

Fiendish Freddy is a circus game with a difference. You play the circus owner, trying to put on the show of your life to raise enough case to prevent your big top (o' fun) turning into a big concrete office block, courtesy of Fiendish Freddy, a wicked property developer. To stop him you need to raise $10,000! This is obviously no mean feat, especially since Freddy (they don't call him 'Fiendish' for nothing!) keeps trying to sabotage your daring exploits!

The game begins with a really nice front end sequence, incorporating both a practice option and the choice of playing either on your own or with up to five mates. Hurrah! Then you're straight into the six sub-games. First off, there's High Diving. Here, you get to spring from progressively higher platforms into progressively smaller water receptacles, performing various poses along the way! But watch out! You'd better keep an eye on the overhead view to make sure you land in the water or you'll end up feeling like a right old squashed tomato!

From here you go into the Juggling. This lets you control the unicycling clown, pedalling left and right whilst trying to catch and juggle various objects tossed to you by a seal(!). Occasionally, Fiendish Freddy lobs bombs and babies at you - drop these and you lose the sub-game.

Next you're onto the Trapeze, playing the lovely Finola. You've got to swing to and fro and time your jump between the two swings. Miss and you bite the sawdust. Pause too long and Freddy snips your trapeze ropes! It's murder!

The fourth sub-game is Knife Throwing. Pop the balloons fastened to the spinning wheel whilst avoiding your charming chum (who's also fastened to the wheel). Hit her and you hear her scream. Ouch! And as if that weren't bad enough, Freddy's out to cause mischief again by employing smoke bombs to put you off your aim.

Then there's the Tightrope. Push the joystick forward to walk whilst moving your balancing pole to the left and right as appropriate. And last, but most definitely not least, you play a Human Cannonball. Note the cannon icon in the bottom left of the screen which shows you how much powder's been used up. Then move the trampoline target to where you think you're going to land, press Fire and the barrel starts descending (very quickly!). Press Fire again when you think the elevation is right and you shoot out. If (or should I say 'when') you miss, you're given two more attempts.

At the end of each sub-game, some animated clown judges appear on-screen. They decide on the sum of dosh your performance warrants - get $10,000 of course and you've completed the game (either way you'll cue another nice graphics routine).

And, er... that's it. "Blimey, I never knew there was so much in it!" I hear you cry, and of course there's a catch. Yep, its a multiloader nightmare! The cassette version comes on what looks like a C120, whilst the +3 version comes on two double-sided disks! Mindscape tells me that it deliberately chose this option rather than lose whole chunks of the game and I can see the point, but it's a tad tiresome all the same.

On the whole though I really liked Fiendish Freddy - the graphics are brilliant and amusing, there's nice sound, lots of variety and a copious dollop of gameplay. The better you get at the game, or indeed each separate sub-game. the more you'll cut the multiloading to a minimum. Basically, I'm going to mark this one highly, but take that mark as being for the disk(s) version. I tear that on cassette you'll end up spending more time loading Fiendish Freddy than playing it (especially if you're crap!).

Six brill tongue-in-cheek circus games, but hampered by 'probably the world's largest multiload'.

75%
80%
89%
80%
80%

Screenshot Text

Flying high through the sky, in her beautiful, beautiful, um, blue bikini, it's the lovely Finola on the trapeze. She'd better watch out though - dawdle around too long and Fiendish Freddie'll cut her ropes, giving a whole new meaning to the phrase 'red carpet treatment'.

Eek! Jeffy Joe, the juggling unicyclist, demonstrates to Fergie how not to hold Princess Newguinea... er, Yourgenie, er... oh, I give up.

Blimey, looks like the ringmaster and I shared the same taste in snazzy boxer shorts!!