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Nic Ford
Arcade: Adventure
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Chris Bourne

Following on from their Dodge City double cassette game, Phoenix now offer Jokers Wild, which follows the same format, le, an arcade 'Action' tape with four levels to be got through before you are given the running code to play the adventure tape.

The scenario is set in 1972 and our intergalactic enemies (fed up with all those Tie Fighters and laser bases) are posing as a funfair. Before you imagine our intergalactic enemy as a hundred and fifty foot high Big Wheel with people going round in him, be aware that they are posing as funfair people and are placing hypnotic playing cards in 'bunko booths' to capture people's souls. 'You' and Captain Phoenix have been summoned back from the future to lock the hypnotic cards in a lead-lined security box. From there you must find the time vortex that is holding our enemies in the space time continuum of earth 1972.

The arcade tape presents a screen of forty squares surrounding a long black edged box in the centre. This latter is the lead-lined security area. The four corner squares contain four playing cards, one of each suit. All the squares (or rooms) are connected by doorways in a varying arrangement, so you can't just zip from one to the other. Those rooms without a playing card have various coloured keys in them, only a few with black ones. You can't enter a room with a playing card in it unless you have picked up a black key.

Only one card at a time may be deposited in the vault. On the first level there is one chaser - an alien Knave, on the second level there are two, three on the third and four on the fourth. Between each level cleared you are given some clues which will be vital to you during the adventure part, and after the fourth level has been cleared you will be given the code without which the loaded adventure will not run.


'The arcade game is quite original in concept, very simple, but because of its speed, quite difficult to get through. Your man, who looks like a Joker's head, moves extremely fast, which can make him a bit hard to control. On the other hand, he needs to move quickly because the chasers are frighteningly fast. It can be a bit unfair when you lose a life near the door to the vault, because you start by coming out of it again and the chaser is still where he caught you, which means he probably will grab you again. When there is more than one chaser on screen, this tends to make the game a bit unplayable.'

'The graphics are large and well detailed with a good use of colour. If the game sounds difficult, it is, and to make things worse you only have 30 seconds to get all four cards into the box! The adventure is a text-only. It begins outside the fair and you seem to have a few disguised enemies around! A well put together package that will appeal to many people. It will probably take sometime before a player succeeds in extracting the code from the action game and this could well prove to be a disadvantage. '

'I found that Jokers Wild grew on me with the playing. It is a game that requires fiendishly fast reflexes, which fortunately the graphics cope with, or a lot of luck when you're up against three Knaves. However it does get a bit repetitive - the reward, of course, is to get the key to be able to play the adventure - I haven't yet. The one irritation was ' the instructions which flash alternately with the high score, making you wait between sentences. Definitely a game for speedy arcade addicts who also like adventures, otherwise it's a bit pricey.'

Control keys: A/S left/right, K/M up/down
Joystick: none
Keyboard play: very fast and responsive
Colour good
Skill levels: progressive difficulty
Lives: 5

General Rating: Good value if you can crack the code!


Screenshot Text

Bunko booths galore in Jokers Wild.