Another bright and breezy day in the YS Shed. I wonder what Linda's got for me to review today? Apparently it's a wonderful surprise and something that should really stretch my reviewing abilities. Super. (Sounds of someone opening a brown paper parcel.) Oh, how amusing. That title character looks exactly like... (Very long pause indeed.) So we meet at last, Seymour. (Isn't this fun readers? Ed)
Say what you like, Seymour's a tough old bird really. In his latest escapade he's been hired by a film studio to do the stunts for Dizzy's new adventure, a space-western-gangster spectacular on ice (or something). In order to make Diz look good, poor old Seymour has to do all the dangerous stuff, such as taking on the baddies (with real bullets) and jumping huge gaps (without safety nets). Could this be an effort by Diz to get rid of his rival once and for all? Of course not. Don't be silly. What kind of an egg do you think he is?
Stuntman Seymour uses the eight-way scrolling colour effect last seen in Turrican 2 - to avoid attribute clash, everything scrolls blocks, but because the background graphics are really big, you don't really notice the jerks. It works well and makes the hole thing look most un-Spectrummy, although (a) when you ride the moving platforms the scrolling falls to bits and (b) after an hour or so you feel rather like Robocop. The game itself is a tricky platform affair with a fair old amount of playability once you get over the frustration barrier.
Each of the tour levels is pretty dam big, and your task is to find the (reasonably) safe route through so you can battle the end-of-level baddy. To be honest, these aren't much cop - there's always a safe area on the screen where you can stand and pummel the boss with alacrity and large bombs. The fun comes from wandering all over the place and figuring out just exactly where you shouldn't go, usually by going there and getting killed. (This sentence actually makes sense if you drink a warm glass of milk and have a quiet lie-down for a bit before, trust me on this, Ed).
It's always nice when a game turns out to be far better than you at first thought, and after finding my feet in Stuntman Seymour I had a spiffy time. There's not much long-term appeal (once you've twigged how to get through a level that's it, and I'm on Level Three already) but while it lasts, it's a blast.
SEYMOUR GOES TO HOLLYWOOD
We've already reviewed Seymour's debut game twice before in YS so I'll keep this brief. On the plus side, the game's set in the real world and has logical and satisfying puzzles. On the minus side, the map's far too big (you spend loads of time just wandering around). you can get killed very easily by stumbling into the wrong part of the scenery, the jokes are horribly unfunny and the whole thing is exactly like a Dizzy game with different graphics. Lots of speech bubbles give the thing a novelty value, but you'll soon find yourself cursing the clunky control system and Seymour's screamingly twee habit of saying 'Gosh!' every time he picks something up.
Super Seymour belongs firmly in the bunging-a-character-onto-a-very-old-arcade-game camp. After Bubble Dizzy (or Underwurlde), Dizzy Panic (or Columns), Dizzy Down the Rapids (or Toobin'), Kwix Snax (or Pengo) and Fast Food (or Ms Pacman), we've got SS (or Bomb Jack). Yes, Bomb Jack - the game with loads of platforms, even more nasties, glowing bombs that yield fat bonuses if you collect them in a certain order and three crispy munches of addiction with every bite. JD's already cast his famously critical eye over SS back in issue 75, and voted it pretty, addictive and ever so playable - exactly like the original in fact. I have to say Jonathan wasn't far out - there's only one problem with the game, and that's that the graphics are too large. Bomb Jack requires accurate, slinky movement, y'see, and the big Sprites of SS give it a clumsy feel. Excellent fun all the same though.
SERGEANT SEYMOUR - ROBOT COP
Hello! Constable Joanna Basenji here - (Eat trombone, Constable! Ed) (Sounds of someone doing something ghastly to a member of the police force with a brass instrument then stuffing them into a sack and locking them in the cellar.) (Sound of reviewer edging cautiously into room.) Erm, hello? Phew, that's that over with then. (Cough.) You must have played the cover demo by now, so you'll have a pretty good idea of what this game's all about - Seymour belts around an overhead-view maze, grabbing villains with his extendable arm and slamming them against the walls like Arnold Rimmer's lemming to reveal thrilling bonus icons.
Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to stand still in order to be sure of a kill, but you do have to be a bit nifty with the the old fire button - release it too soon and the nasty will tumble from your palm and more than likely into your podgy little face. You can also perform some tricksy manoeuvres such as whirling one villain into another, or using your robot arm to pick up the bonus icons without exposing yourself to danger.
Who needs the enormous graphics of Wild West Seymour, eh? Sergeant Seymour's may be tiny, but they're stuffed full of character. That cheeky grin has never been so chummy. The (128K) sound is rather fine as well - lots of arcadey bleeps and bloops add to the, erm, arcadey atmosphere. As each level is just a single maze with different baddies, there are tonnes of screens, with the promise of bonus interludes if you get far enough. (You can probably guess I didn't get far enough.) it's an exceptionally playable game, really capturing the simple addictiveness of the games of yore, and one to seek out with gusto (if you can cope with the very small number of lives you're given and the hideous ease with which they can all vanish down the plughole.)
WILD WEST SEYMOUR
Well, there's no putting it off any longer. (Deep breath.) Wild West Seymour is lardy's second adventure game, this time starring him in a western picture. The game's split into four parts - in the first he has to collect the film crew and equipment, in the second he has to catch a train to the location shoot, in the third our hero has to restart the engine after the villainous El Bandeeto has marooned him in the middle of a desert, and in the final section Seymour has to pass a destroyed bridge no doubt give the scurrilous knave a damn good trouncing to boot.
Before we start on the gameplay, it's worth mentioning the control method. It's the same one as Seymour Goes to Hollywood, and makes Dizzy's look the height of sophistication. The fire button serves a dual purpose - not only does it allow you to pick up or drop objects, but it also activates bits of the background, such as switches or doors. The problem is (he said with a world-weary sigh) is that it's not at all obvious which parts of the background you can interact with. So more often than not you end up standing by a likely-looking bit o' scenery, pressing fire and dropping an object. Then you have to press fire another three or four times to pick the damn thing back up without dropping the other items in your inventory. It's thunderingly irritating, let me tell you. The game itself is the usual mix of puzzles and aimless wandering. Thankfully, the programmers have dispensed with the pointlessly dangerous bits, so you can toddle around to your heart's content. And splitting the adventure up into four sections means that each is manageably small, and having passwords so you can jump straight to each section is a great idea. Great idea! Wow, what an idea. (Stop stalling. Ed) Oh, look, it doesn't matter what I say. It will not sway you one little bit if I mention the puzzles are less logical and more blindingly obvious. It will make not one jot of difference if I say I played right through to Level Four in about an hour. Nor do I imagine for one moment that commenting on the fact Level Two dispenses with puzzles and consists almost entirely of jogging between two characters and talking to them in order to make objects magically appear will cause you to pause for more than a moment. And I can't possibly fool myself by thinking you'd accept my criticism that Dizzy and Seymour are becoming like Ultimate's Sabreman and milking one game style ad nauseam. Finally, I can't imagine that my saying Wild West Seymour is a slick, technically-accomplished program but a soulless and irritatingly repetitive game whose linear simplicity will disappoint even die-hard Dizzy fans would influence your buying decision in any way. So I'll save my breath, and instead mention the crisp graphics and rinky-tink 128K music. Mmm, lovely.
Uppers: Polished, sparkly progs with a variety of game styles. The arcadey ones are good fun, and Sgt's a gem.
Downers: The adventures are awkward and unfunny, and Wild West, though technically smart, is hopelessly easy.
£13 is a lot to pay for such short-term playability. Get Sgt on budget instead.
EVOLUTION OF A LARD BALL
From his conception as Dizzy with sillier gloves, Seymour has evolved along a far different path. Come with us now as we trip disarmingly through the changing faces of a squelchy hero.Seymour Goes to HollywoodHere we see Seymour Mark One. The Dizzy-ish lines of his bod are instantly recognisable. Super SeymourDeveloping that cheeky character and he's also sprouted those world-famous teeth.Stuntman SeymourA bit of a step backwards. The teeth are spot-on, but he's looking like Dizzy again.Sergeant SeymourHe's at last lost those eggy lines, and that overbite has been perfected, perhaps to a disquieting degree.Wild West SeymourThat's it! All traces of chubby egginess have been banished, and that 'Seymour feeling' is shining through. He scares the bejasus out of the Shed crew, to be perfectly honest.Silence Of the Lambs SeymourReady at last for the Codies' top secret project, the lardy one strikes terror into the hearts of mortals everywhere and feasts on the flesh of unkind reviewers. Oh-oh.
Here we see the mating dance of the lesser-spotted squelch. Note the colourful frills, designed to attract the female of the species and reduce wind resistance.
Erm, there's no caption for this picture. Sorry. Y'see, I was going to write out the lyrics to 'Hooray For Hollywood', but sadly nobody here in the Shed actually knows them. (Linda's never even heard of the song.) So talk amongst yourselves for a bit and then go onto the next screenshot.
It's obvious why Seymour looks like Dizzy. He's performing the egg stunts, so has to be made up as Diz in order to help the audience suspend their disbelief. That's the official line anyway.
It was horrible. The mutant pretzels sprang out of Gupta's picnic basket and ate Eliza and a tree. It would have ruined the whole day had Wendy not brought her harmonica.
And now, an exciting behind-the-scenes look at grabbing Speccy screenshots. Using the Multiface we snap the pic to +3 disk, then transfer the file to Andy's Mac via a PCW 8256 using X-Modem and Ben Taylor's Convert program. Then we notice the screen's sprouted corrupted blue squares and go home in a huff.