Siegfried Kurtz
1986
Puzzle
£8.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

31
Skip Austin
Chris Bourne

Addictive games is best known for Football Manager - a game so intrinsically well designed that it has been converted to every machine under the sun and is still (several years later) the most successful management game ever. Although Addictive has released other games over the years none have had anything like the success of Manager. Now it hopes to change all that with Kirel.

Kirel looks, in its use of an edge-on 3D viewpoint, a little like Knight Lore and Alien 8. Were Kirel actually like those games it would of course be exceptionally tedious. Enough is enough. But despite the wizzo graphics you could argue that Kirel is barely an arcade game at all, or at least say that the skills it requires are quite different from the usual dodge, blast and collect, sweaty palmed instant reaction brigade. With Kirel you have to think, and think very fast.

Somewhere in its development Kirel was related to that ancient arcade game where you had to shunt a boot to a bomb - reaching it before it blew to bits. Kirel has the same basic idea, on each new screen you must get to and leap on, a bomb or several bombs, before time runs out and the biggest bomb of the lot expresses itself in the only way it knows how. In Kirel this all takes place in 3D and is made difficult not only by some nasty monsters that look like seaweed on a bad day but the mental torment of working out how to get where you want to go.

There are 70 screens. On each there are dozens of blocks arranged in all kinds of patterns. Getting to some of the bombs is going to involve manipulating the blocks, building block bridges and viewing the problem from several different angles (you can change viewpoint like Ant Attack).

This would be comparatively simple were it not for the fact that the Kirel character - a blob with two big eyes - can only 'climb' one step at a time, ie it cannot bounce on top of any block more than one block higher than the block on which it is standing.

Kirel can pick up the block it's standing on and drop down one level but if that then means there are no adjacent blocks one above, below or at the same level as Kirel you have achieved precisely nothing. Get the picture (if you do without re-reading the above several times you should do well at this game).

Kirel is pleasing to the eye, even though 3D screens don't have the 'gosh wow' impact they once had. I found the mixture of block structures and bizarre objects like the cheese gave the whole game a wonderfully surreal touch. Kirel and the monsters (a name for a group if ever I heard one) are very Ultimate-style wacky with amusing (if jerky) animation giving them some personality.

Addictive have faced the old Spectrum 'any colour you like so long as it doesn't move' attribute problem and like all sensible people waved the white flag - all the screens are two-colour only. Can't say I minded much though.

Sound is surprisingly effective, perhaps because it doesn't try to say anything other than squelch and burp at the appropriate moments. The squelches and burps are, however, most effective.

JUDGEMENT

I loved it. Addictive say the game has 'a lot of original ideas'. That's pushing it, but it certainly puts a lot of old ideas from other programs together in a new way. It has all the thrills of an arcade game whilst testing your reasoning far more than your trigger finger.

Skip Austin

Publisher: Addictive Games
Price: £8.95
Memory: 48K

*****

5/5

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HELP

There is really only one key tip. To get to higher levels without simply trapping Kirel you must think in terms of stepped platforms. Build up several blocks at the same time so that you always have adjacent blocks on to which you can move.

1) if you find what looks like a large chunk of Black Forest Gateau this allows you to kill one monster. (Only one monster for such a large piece of cake?)

2) Balls - collect these to gain extra time.

3) Arrows - give you more 'bridges', ie using the bridge option Kirel can generate a platform at the current block level provided there is nothing in the way.

4) Sweets - restore energy levels should the Seaweed Monsters slurp too much of your energy away.

5) Transports and networks - these let you move quickly from one section of the screen to another. Some are automatic - you can't control where you go - some work like a lift and you can move up and down to different levels.

6) Cubes - these helpful devices destroy vast sections of block structures, walls and pyramids letting you get at hidden bombs.

7) Use the pause option frequently to give yourself time to think where on earth you are trying to go.

8) Use the multi-viewpoint option, it may reveal structural secrets which prove vital to solving the screen.

9) Don't try to collect all the goodies (cake, balls etc) on a particular screen unless absolutely necessary. Some of the screens are relatively easy to solve in terms of getting the bombs but contain 'red herring' fiendish puzzles to reach bonus objects. Don't be tempted - shrug your shoulders and walk away like a man.

MORE PROBLEMS

1) for each screen there is a time limit, indicated by a length of fuse which slowly burns away and different screens have different limits.

2) The Seaweed Monsters lurk all over the place. They don't attack you as such but bumping into them is very easy and it loses you energy. If you run completely out of energy you've lost whether the bomb explodes or not.

3) Impassable Pyramids, littered around later screens, are impassable, as you might expect. You have to go around them.

4) Invisible walls are found on later screens and form an impassable barrier just like the Pyramids except that you can never remember where they are. Very nasty.