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1985
Arcade: Action
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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136
Chris Bourne

Have you ever been ill and wondered what exactly was going wrong with your poor little body? Sitting there sweating, head throbbing, stomach making horrible gurgly noises and all that sort of thing. Playing Gerry the Germ might help throw some light on the subject of diseases and how they affect you. On the other hand it might not!

Gerry, the hero of this piece, has been thrown out of the IIIstitute of Infectology for failing to get his stinkploma ... he's out on the street, no money, a bacteria and a colony of viruses to support. Most ordinary germs would be defeated by this crushing blow, but not Gerry. He's a fighter, a rebel, a rapscallion and he's going to show the world that he's the best by infecting an entire human body on his own.

You play the part of that heroic, teensy-weensy little germ, and have to successfully infect six regions of your reluctant host's body. The playing area spans six separate screens, one for each part of the body Gerry has to attack and should he fail at any stage it's back to the beginning. Counters on the status screen and a thermometer monitor your progress as you spread your pestilential influence through your host.

Gerry starts his quest in the lungs (coughs and sneezes spread diseases). Four red blood corpuscles perform a square dance in the middle of the lung screen and every time they cross, a bottle of oxygen is produced which Gerry has to collect. Starve the lungs of oxygen for long enough and they become diseased and it's time to whizz down a handy vein to the kidneys.

To wreak havoc in the kidneys, Gerry has to eat as many kidney beans as he can and then go to the toilet to cause kidney failure. Antibodies floating about the screen in the form of a plunger and toilet attendant make Gerry's life difficult, and he must avoid red and white cells if he 's to succeed. The kidney beans aren't too keen on being scoffed either, and have a habit of running off the screen.

The bladder is the next port of call, and it's a sea of liquid, authentically enough. Gerry has acquired a little rowing boat in which he rows around. A bull and a cockerel swim around and can overturn Gerry's boat, tipping him in the drink and turning him into a piece of bladder wreck. Fortunately Gerry isn't defenceless: he can pick up a toilet roll and hurl it at a nasty, stunning it and sending it to the bottom of the bladder sea for a while. The aim of the bladder game is to land on the island the loo roll can be used to block a dripping tap and thus control the liquid level. After the bladder it's on to the stomach or back to the lungs, depending on whether you succeed or fail.

Lots of nasties trundle their way around the stomach a tapeworm, a gas pocket and lots of healthy food. Some stun, others shunt you about the screen so care is needed to complete the infecting. Gerry has to dissolve Mr Aspirin, guardian of the exit who stops the stomach from going wrong Mr Aspirin can be dissolved with the acid bottle that wanders around the screen, and once he's safely out of the way the stomach gets all acidic and packs up.

The next stop is the pancreas, which looks rather like the inside of a train. The screen is split into two, one half representing the inside of a railway carriage and the other the driver's compartment, where a fireman and driver beaver away. The aim is to infect the medical supplies in the carriage. Gerry's touch is enough to infect the medicines, but he has to watch out for mean white cells, ticket inspectors and deodorants while he bounces around. Once the medical supplies have been ruined Gerry has to stop the train, by climbing unseen into the driver's compartment and lobbing coal at the driver to start a fight between the driver and his fireman!

In order to complete the game and prove to his fellow germs that he's a jolly infectious fellow, Gerry needs to get to the heart and inflict a massive coronary by dodging the defensive antibodies and turning their fire onto the heart itself.

Careful how you play the game Gerry could grow on you...

CRITICISM

'Great, I thought, loading up Gerry the Germ, having read the fab cartoon instructions. It loaded, and played an amusing tune. I started on the game: some neat graphics here! In fact, I was all set to give it a really nice review. After ten minutes play I began to realise something was wrong. Soon 1 was really bored. Eventually, having played the game to my wit's end, I can say that I think Firebird have mined what could have been a realty cool product by making it far, far too difficult. Someone's bound to say 'persevere, and you'll succeed', but quite honestly I don't have infinite patience. I'm not going to be coming back to this game for a long time because Gerry the Germ is really beginning to make me ill'

'Lots of lovely, witty ideas are contained in this game and its scenario. The presentation, from the packaging to the on screen graphics is very good. Sadly the game is let down by its sheer unplayability and rapidly became so frustrating I didn't want to continue. A nice try, which falls short of the mark by being so unplayable…'

'The most notable thing about this game is its humour - although lavatorial in tone, the funny scenario has some very neat touches. The gameplay, however, is sadly lacking and the whole thing boils (!) down to being a rather dull six-screen arcady type game. The way it works is silly - once you've completed a screen you move onto the next one, and if you fail you have to complete the first screen again! This quickly becomes frustrating, especially when you don't know what to do on a new screen and consequently return to the first screen very swiftly. A lives system would have been much, much better. This game costs too much: there are some better releases in Firebird's Silver range.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: definable
Joystick: Kempston
Keyboard play: reasonable
Use of colour: very cheerful, if that's the right word
Graphics: jolly
Sound: a nice little ditty on the title screen and a few spo effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: six
General Rating: A lovely idea spoilt be being too difficult to play.

67%
75%
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61%
45%
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45%

Screenshot Text

Greey tries to get the bubbly bottles of oxygen from the red corpuscles in the lungs. GERRY THE GERM takes infection to new heights.

Rowing the boat on the slimy sea in the bladder. That liquorice allsort beind the boat is in fact a toilet roll, Gerry's main defensive device.