1984
Arcade: Platform
£5.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

92
Chris Bourne

As a fairy tale, Jack and the Beanstalk is a celebration of a country-bred idiot making good through never knowing the limitations of his own idiocy - or perhaps, more fairly tale, it's the story of how mankind prefers to believe in the magical properties of things rather than in good solid common sense.

Jack, of course, is the lad who took his poor family's cow to market and on the way met a man who offered to buy it from him for a bag of magic beans. Though ostracised by his understandingly distraught old mother, Jack plants the beans and a giant stalk grows up to the sky which Jack climbs in search of fame and fortune. As luck would have it there is a giant's castle up there and after several adventures, Jack steals the giant's treasure, escapes and plunges the evil monster to his death by axing the beanstalk as the giant chases down it after him. It you ask me, my sympathies are with the giant, Fee Fi Fo Fum.

So much for the intro, by the time the game has loaded all the agricultural drama is over and the beanstalk is in full bloom. There are several screens, the first being the base of the beanstalk. On each screen there is an object to be collected, without which you cannot get off the screen. On the first it is an axe. The problem facing the player is (a) discover the route up the screen - any other than the correct one will result in death, and (b) avoid the various lethal creatures flapping, slithering and jumping around.

Each screen has different graphics, which means learning each one as you go, and the overall object, of course, is to collect the money, the golden goose and escape before the giant gets you.

CRITICISM

'Jack and the Beanstalk is one of the most frustrating games I have ever played. The graphics and movement are very good, so too is the sound and colour. Unfortunately the instructions don't make the point that it is impossible to get off the screen without having collected an object first. On discovering this, life isn't made any easier because of the finickiness of the program in only allowing the minutest deviation from a pre-planned route through each screen.'

'Read the instructions carefully - I didn't and got stuck on the first screen for almost two days. Graphics are very nicely drawn and are very colourful. The colours of some moving items have been poorly chosen, eg. a green background with yellow ink. Most of the game is frustrating due to the laws, don'ts and cannots. The sound is good but tends to drag on. This game has plenty of playability potential if you overcome the frustrating parts.'

'Jack and the Beanstalk has Cunah Microspeech facility, but I found a lot of what's said is indecipherable and it slows the game down enormously. Another irritation is the between-lives routine which is prolonged and very soon drives you mad with frustration. The game would have improved several points in my estimation if I had been able to cut it out and get on with the next life. Graphics are very colourful, well drawn and lively and the 3D effect has been used well on the second screen - almost too well, since jumping *has to be calculated to the millimetre - not easy in 3D. In the end this is an excellent looking game which is almost totally spoiled by the over-cleverness of the content and which expects a lot of patience from the player.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: W/E left/right, O/K up/down, 0 = jump, P = fire
Joystick: Kempston, AGF, Protek
Keyboard play: responsive
Use of colour: very good generally with only a few attribute problems
Graphics: very good
Sound: good, Microspeech slows game down
Skill levels: 1
Lives: 4
Screens: multiple
Originality: undoubtedly a very original game
General Rating: Perhaps too frustrating to be completely playable and addictive.

74%
76%
60%
68%
62%
68%
68%