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TV Games
Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Richard Blaine
Chris Bourne

What will they think of next? Maybe there's a company out there negotiating for the rights to News At Ten or Gardener's Question Time...

I'm sure you've seen the Krypton Factor on TV - the idea, if you haven't, is to pit four contestants against each other in a series of tests of their physical and mental abilities. The one who scores highest is supposedly the best all-rounder. On the box, players are tested on their memories, their abilities to perform different physical tasks, their recognition skills and their general knowledge. The computer game manages to reproduce the memory and general knowledge tests quite well, but the physical section is really a bit of a joke.

The first subgame (of six), involves remembering sequences of numbers flashing on screen, and then being able to type then back in, but in the correct numerical order. This is not half as easy as you might think; at the same time though, while it's something of a challenge at first I don't honestly think it has much addictive quality.

Game number two is weird. First you have to study a really naff picture while reading a story which scrolls across the bottom of the screen. Then you study a similar pic and read a similar story. In both pic and story, things have been changed - present becomes postcard, fete becomes fair, and so on - and you have to identify the changes.

The third section has two separate games; in the first, you have to move the Ergobuggy to the end of a course. On the TV, this is quite a challenge, as you have to pedal in one direction with your feet and in the other with your hands - no mean feat, I can tell you. On the computer though, it's just an exercise in joystick waggling. Ho hum, and a missed opportunity.

Once you've done that, you go to the vidwall, as in the real thing. And again as in the real thing, the longer you take over the buggy, the less time you have on the vidwall. This is a rectangle of TV screens, divided into four quarters. You have to work out which quarter has the most coloured screens of the same colour and then hit the right button. If you're confused, that puts you just ahead of me, as I was totally lost by this point. I tried hitting all the buttons at once, and the machine made all the right noises, but I didn't score anything.

Section four is another Summer Games-type game, this time on the assault course. Your little figure runs along, viewed from above, and every time you come to an obstacle, you have to work out what combinations of strength, stamina, arm and leg power will best get you past it. Again I pounded away at all four keys, but this time it seemed to work, as I scored 10 points! At least I think I did. It could have been because I was the only person taking part and so automatically won!

Part five involves solving a puzzle. At the bottom of the screen is a disassembled design, chopped into nine pieces. You have to put them in the right places in the empty square in the given time limit. Again, not as easy as you might think.

Finally you get to the sixth section, the general knowledge quiz. This works much like Trivial Pursuit (not surprisingly, as TV Games is owned by Domark, which published that game). Rather than typing in the answers, you say them out loud, press a button to have the right answer flashed up, and then tell the computer whether you were right or wrong. Lots of scope for cheating if you're playing with yourself (Don't you mean 'by yourself'? Ed).

And that's it, really. Up to four people can play, and right at the start everyone gets to choose from eight digitised pictures, which are accompanied by potted biographies. (Karen, a 22-year-old secretary from Blackpool). You can change the details if you want, but you can't change the picture - you're stuck with that grinning visage.

What more can be said? The Krypton Factor is one of the century's less gripping licensing ideas, and while it has flashes of almost-interest, it really doesn't grab me. Yet again, this is an example of a licensing deal where no-one sat down and thought much about whether or not the projected product would work. Just because you can computerise something doesn't mean you should. Some things just don't work as computer games, and I tend to think that The Krypton Factor is one of those.

Not an obvious computer tie-in, and in the end a none too successful one, either.