B.Sides Software
Brian Sides
1984
Arcade: Maze
£5.50
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

12,13
Chris Bourne

As you might well guess from the punning title, Hampton's Caught is a maze game - a rather large one. Your job is to guide poor old Hampton out of the maze in which he's been caught. Hampton is shortsighted and something of an explorer - this may be a nonsequitor but it's relevant. As in a traditional maze there is a start and a finish. At the beginning of each game we see Hampton walking into the enticing looking garden, the door slamming shut behind him - and he's trapped.

There are four objects somewhere within the maze. Three are obligatory to find and one is helpful. The first is a map. As the maze is some fifty time the screen area, this is pretty essential if you are to find your way out. Helpfully, it is normally to be found within a few moves from the start - if you know which way to start looking. The second object is a pair of spectacles which cures Hampton's short-sightedness and brings the third vital object into view on the map - the key to the exit. The fourth object is an alarm dock which adds a few vital minutes to the time limit against which the stirring escape is played.

That's about all there is to the game, except to say that the mazes (a different one is drawn each game) are extremely complex - a glance at the map is enough to terrify. The walls of the maze are seen from above in a simple form of perspective with the screen area scrolling as Hampton moves about. On the overall map Hampton's position and that of the key are shown as red dots.

CRITICISM

'Hampton is a simple game although the sheer size and complexity of the maze makes it more interesting to play than it sounds. But the real weakness of the game is shown by the fact that it is played against the clock (fine) but that the key is hardly ever visible until you have crossed three-quarters of the way towards the exit and almost always pops up virtually all the way back towards the start which means it is a struggle to make it out of the maze before the time runs out. In other words, excitement is being artificially introduced. As a result, and despite the different maze set up each time, the game lacks any serious lasting appeal.'

'Reading on the cassette blurb it said, Amazing sprite graphics and animation... 3D maze 50 times screen size. ' The implication is that there are lots of animated sprites, when there is only one - Hampton himself, and the animation isn't really amazing, it's quite ungainly. The 3D maze is a fake - if you are going to attempt to draw walls that look solid, then they should play a part as they do in, say. Android 2 or Ant Attack, where the characters can disappear behind a wall. In Hamptons Caught, the 3D plays no part whatsoever. The four direction screen scrolling is very jerky, slow and eventually becomes tiring on the eyes. The maze is so large that it can take you all of the quite long time allowed to find how to reach the exit. Generally, I thought this was quite a disaster.'

'The graphics of the maze are very straightforward, whereas Hampton is quite a large character, fairly well animated and, unusually in Spectrum graphics, variously coloured, red shirt, blue trousers, yellow face and hands. His legs move in a rather ungainly way however! The game itself is not all that inspiring by today's standards, especially as it all moves rather slowly. Very frustrating when time's running out.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: cursors
Joystick: Kempston, Protek, AGF
Keyboard play: not very responsive and awkward to control at times
Use of colour: reasonable
Graphics: no real use made of 3D, main character animation is inventive
Sound: poor
Skill levels: 1
Lives: against the dock
Originality: the concept is as old as the hills of course
General Rating: Below average.

44%
47%
38%
57%
30%
42%
43%

Screenshot Text

Hampton's Caught and without his glasses he's not likely to get out.