Through clouds of swirling snow, a lone figure can just be made out clinging penlously to the side of a sheer face of ice. He looks around, wiping the frost off his NHS glasses with the sleeve of his yellow anorak. Resting his rucksack on a ledge, he glances at his watch (Dixons £4.95). Time is running out. He must reach the summit by nightfall...
Such is the frame of mind you need to be in to have a crack at the newie from Epyx. Laser cannons, mystical orbs and ninjas will have to be forgotten, as Final Assault is a thinking man's game, although it might also appeal to the joystick-wagglers among us.
If you can remember Everest Ascent which came out years ago you'll be on the right lines. This is lots better of course, but the ideas are pretty similar. As you may have guessed, you're trying to get to the top of a mountain. I never really understood the point of this. It's not as if there's going to be much up there, apart from a few discarded cagoules and the odd Kendal Mint Cake wrapper. But that's what you've got to do.
Before you can set off there are the usual procedures to go through. Having decided that you want to climb the mountain, there's your route to be chosen. These range from easy to almost nauseatingly impossible, so naturally I plumped for the latter. Honest.
Then there are a few minor details to clear up - for a start your equipment needs to be sorted out. Do you really need to take three teddy bears and a hot water bottle, or would it be better to use some of the space for a set of golf clubs in case you find a suitable plateau to take a few practice shots on? Decisions, decisions. Luckily from now on the joystick takes over.
Obviously a full-time member of the Ministry Of Silly Walks, your climber sets out across the ice. Nothing difficult here. Just try not to fall down too many crevasses (you can test the ice if it looks a bit dodgy). This is also a good time to get all the bits and pieces out of your rucksack that you think you might need for the ascent.
Sooner or later you'll come across the first cliff, probably an icy one. If you know what carabiners, jummars and pitons are, you'll find this bit easy. If not, you'll still find it a bit of a doddle as all you need to do is push the joystick up, push it down and then press the fire button. This causes the climber to go through the motions of climbing, and you'll soon be at the top.
The other part's much more fun: rock climbing. Search around the cliff face for hand and foot holds. Tremble as you place your foot on a tenuous ledge. Scream as it gives way, and you feel yourself slip. Sigh with relief as your rope saves you from certain death. You remembered to pack the rope, didn't you? If not, the little bloke plummets to the ground and is dashed to pixels on the rocks beneath. Always gets a laugh.
If you survive all this (each route consists of a mixture of these three elements) you're 'treated' to the victory tune and, after a quick swig of cold coffee, it's time to think about getting down again (although you're mercifully spared actually having to do this).
As seems to be the rule with Speccy conversions of these American games, the graphics are a bit patchy. The occasional nice backdrop, but merely functional sprites. It's all in the gameplay and, while things may not look too impressive from a distance, it's very easy to become absorbed.
It won't keep you hooked for hours at a time, but in the months ahead, when you're bored of your Christmas pressies and just can't be bothered with exam revision and all that sort of stuff, you may well find yourself saying "Gosh! I know! I'll climb a mountain!"
If assaulting mountains appeals to you, you'll find this one pleasantly playable.
1. It may look like a tribal war-dance, but it gets you there eventually.
2. Urgh! what a time to get an itchy bot!