John M. Phillips
1987
Arcade: Action
£8.95
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

40,41
John Gilbert
Chris Bourne

Impossaball, aside from being a terrible name for anything, is the unfortunate title bestowed upon the latest game from Hewson.

Apparently, the program's author wished the game to be called Atomsphere (an infinitely superior name) but it was not to be. Like so many astonishingly enjoyable things in life, Impossaball is really simple. The aim of the game is to guide the ball you control through eight levels of absurdly difficult obstacles before, before what? Well, I haven't a clue. The first level is tough enough to keep anyone busy for a good few hours, and as for the eighth - I shudder to think!

Each level, aside from the different layout of obstacles, has the same aim. You must race from one end of the course to the other before the time runs out. Obviously, things would be just too simple left at that. Dotted along the floor and ceiling of the corridor down which you are travelling are cylinders. Each cylinder must be depressed - by landing on it - before you can move to the next level.

The graphics are simple but extremely effective. The screen is presented side-on in real 3D. A chessboard pattern covers the ceiling and floor, adding to this illusion but the best effect is you can move into the screen by pushing the stick forward, and out by doing the opposite - and the ball swells and shrinks accordingly.

Once you have moved past the start (which looks like two ladders in fact) the time will begin to tick away, and you'd better get your butt in gear (man).

Accelerating by pushing the stick to the right, the ball skitters along the ground at satisfying speed. Obstacles can be jumped by hitting the Fire button. The longer you depress the button, the higher you will jump. It's all great fun - and very frustrating at times.

Some of the more unpleasant items you will encounter are the spikes. Invariably surrounding a couple of cylinders, these critters simply sit there, waiting for you to hurt yourself on to them. Sounds like a very unlikely thing to happen? Wait till you play the game. Also joining the ranks of the undesirables are plasma fields. These little blighters wibble about all over the place, getting into all sorts of unhelpful positions and being a general nuisance.

Magic rings are very temperamental beasts too. One minute they are happily giving you extra time whenever you land upon them. The next and - whammee! They kill you without so much as a by your leave.

You can alter the direction of your ball in mid-air, but you will need to have a fair degree of deftness with your stick in order to make use of this feature.

Gameplay is fast and furious. The graphics are simple but you really get the impression of movement as the squares on the floor zoom past. The bouncing of the ball, too. Is very convincing.

Impossaball is a very good game. It's so frustrating, but equally addictive. Something similar has been attempted before in other guises, but Hewson has made the best attempt yet.

Label: Hewson
Price: £7.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: John Gilbert

*****

It's fun. It manages to stand up as high-quality same that has more entertainment value than most.

5/5