THE BELLS ARE RINGING
ENTHUSIASTS for the popular amusement arcade game Hunchback will enjoy the version from Ocean Software. You are Quasimodo, the notorious Hunchback of Notre Dame, who in legend rang the bells of the famous cathedral. In the game you have to rescue your sweetheart Esmerelda, who is imprisoned in a tower on the cathedral battlements. You perform the selfless deed by leaping over fireballs, swinging on ropes and ringing the bells, pursued all the time by a tenacious French soldier.
The game as released is a more or less direct copy of the original arcade game, which makes it simple in design but at the same time a sure winner with those who have unloaded a fortune in 10 pence pieces in dingy halls of pleasure. There are 15 screens but they lack the variety of many arcade games, being based on three or four basic configurations with added hazards at the later stages. On the plus side, the game is challenging but very easy to play and also addictive.
Graphics are competent if not awe-inspiring. Quasimodo is a respectable size, which makes a change from some of the tiny stick-figures which feature in some games. The main difficulty with the graphics is that old Spectrum chestnut of how to prevent the colours spilling over when one colour over-writes another.
In Hunchback, as an example when the green Quasimodo falls to his doom, sections of the red wall also turn green momentarily. That was less of a fault previously than it appears now, with companies like Ultimate and Software Projects producing games which apparently solve the problem.
The action is pacy but not so fast that it discourages the less nimble-fingered among us. Timing rather than sheer speed is the secret of success in Hunchback.
Ocean has produced a game which, although it does not dazzle the eye or numb the brain with its complexity and design, is nevertheless a good, solid version of an arcade classic.
Joystick: Kempston, Protek, Sinclair