Hewson generally knock out some cracking stuff, don't they? Cybernoid, Exolon, Uridium - Hewson games have had more SU Classics than most of us have had lukewarm dinners standing in the rain on one leg. And the latest offering from that esteemed company is Mazemania.
Remember Pacman? That was maybe the first maze game ever and had you gobbling up dots around a maze, while you had to avoid the nasties.
Then there was Pacmania. It was just like the original Pacman, only it was in isometric perspective, you could only see the bit of the maze immediately around you at any one time. This was a real pain in the botty, as if you had missed a single blob somewhere, you had to frustratingly search through to find the missing one - instead of being able to see it immediately, just like you could in the original. Oh - and you could jump over the monsters.
Mazemania is a bit like the latter, only viewed from above. Flippo - your cutsie sprite - has to traverse through some colourful mazes, flipping over the tiles (essentially the same as eating the dots), avoiding the monsters. When you have succeeded in flipping all the tiles on one level, you have to find the exit square which will take you to the next.
There are other fiddly bits to it, of course. Black holes that you have to jump over... if you fall down you flip back to the original colour - and I have a feeling they might alter bits of the maze when you walk over them, too.
Icons can be bumped into which give you extra points, extra energy (for it is energy you lose if you bump into a nasty), an extra a life, or the ability to jump on nasties and kill 'em. You can jump over the aliens to avoid being drained of that oh-so-precious energy, and to avoid our friend Flippo from a grisly and untimely demise.
The final difference is that you have an energymeter and when you bump into nasties, you don't die immediately, but lose a bit of energy.
But the fact that you can't see all the maze at once (same as Pacmania, y'see), makes the game - for me - a bit of a pain to play. There is a way out of this - you map the levels carefully - but it does take a lot of the spontaneity out of the thing if you do.
On the plus side, as usual, the technical implementation of Mazemania is flawless. Super scrolling, fabby graphics - particularly on the second level - great playability, the works. And the game has a certain niggling addictiveness that does get to you after a time - 'though for others it might just amount to niggle!
But for 10 big ones, it's one of those games that it would be better to try first, to see if it's going to grab you, rather than rushing out to buy straight away. Worth looking out for though, particularly for maze game and mapping fiends.
Reviewer: John Cook
Pacmania-ish gameplay, but in plan view with a few knobs on - worth a look.