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Topo Soft
1990
Arcade: Action
£9.99
Multiple languages (see individual downloads)
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

20
James Leach
Chris Bourne

They're back! Just when you though it was safe to go into the kitchen, you get assaulted by a manic horde of slimy little creatures intent on only one thing. Destruction. Oh, and having themselves a really good time. (So that's two things, actually.)

HIDEOUS LITTLE REPTILEY THINGS!

It's been several years since the carnage caused by the hideous little reptiley-things, when Gizmo, that loveable little Mogwai. was taken back into the care of the old Chinese shopkeeper. The action's now moved from Kingston Falls to New York where a tycoon called Daniel Clamp is busy developing up the town (which probably means a lot of destruction of his own - bit of ecology, there). Somehow loads of not-so-nice Grems escape from their lab, start to run amok in his building (Clamp Tower) and all flipping heck breaks loose!

This is where you come in. As Billy, you're now trying to rescue Gizmo before night comes (which makes them even horribler, remember?) so off you trot to the lab where the party's in full swing. The plan is to collect a some objects with which to make a sort of anti-Gremlin device, and needless to say you're racing against the clock before all the uglis go out and, erm 'take Manhattan'.

RAD AND MAD!
And, er, that's the plot. The game is a sideways-scrolling platformy type thing, with a large shoot-'em-up element thrown in for good measure. You're armed with a simple flashlight at first (Gremlins can't stand light), but can pick up other, more powerful variations along the way. The torch throws out little chunks of light that could easily pass for laser beams. The effect is the same - you kill the Gremlins.

As you progress from right to left you find that the Gremlins come in many different forms. Some walk, some fly, some ride skateboards (these are described as "rad and mad for some reason, it's a bit depressing really) and some even turn up in whopping great bubbles. These last ones are impossible to kill by the way, although you can always send them off in the other direction with a few bursts of flashing torchlight.

The problem you'll come across very soon is one of size. You're pretty large on the screen, and the Gremlins aren't exactly small, so avoiding them is very difficult - it's like being stuck in a can of sardines! In fact you'll be lucky to get very far at all in the first few plays, because whole crews of nasties will descend on you, making your flashlight virtually useless.

HEY GIZMO!

If you get far enough you can pick up a three-way beam torch. This sprays light around the place, zapping everyone out of your way. Another very useful way to clear the screen of baddies is to find a Rambo-Gizmo icon. Collect it and you'll summon Gizmo himself. He'll fly in on a parachute, spraying what look like toy arrows at all the Gremlins. Hurrah!

Gremlins 2 has nice graphics (they're certainly large enough), but they become unclear whenever all the moving sprites and things get near to each other. The screen easily gets confused, and you repeatedly lose lives because you can't see what's going on. The movement is a bit sticky, too. There isn't any pin-point accuracy, and Billy doesn't respond very well to your control. All this combines to make Gremlins 2 rather irritating. It isn't particularly fast, so you can't dash around using your reflexes to avoid the attacking baddies. You are limited to jogging left and right, with the occasional jumps onto the platforms above.

And it just doesn't come off. The game is a pretty difficult right-to-left scroller, and requires both practice and a method. But it's also annoying, and you won't have a hell of a lot of inclination to continue playing.

Platform that's too difficult and glitchy to make you really want to stick with it.

68%
73%
72%
69%
72%

Screenshot Text

This is the lift where you'll appear. From now on your in Gremlins country.

Under attack from a skateboarding baddie.

Keep your torch handy - it'll come in useful for melting the little critters when they attack.

Some are hidden behind the computer waiting for you!

And here's one jumping on you now. Quick! Out with the fresh Duracells!

The library section. It's pretty quiet now, but things'll soon hot up!

Torchlight won't harm the ones in bubbles.

This poor guy has really been done up like a turkey by the mischievous Gremlins. To the right is an extra time icon, to the left a flashlight. But watch out for the pogo-ing Gremlin behind.