1986
Arcade: Maze
£9.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

26
Chris Bourne

Myrtle the Mermaid is in love, poor girl. To make matters worse the object of her infatuation, Gormless Gordon, is terrified of her. And who wouldn't be? She's a buxom wench to say the least. Gordon, on the other hand, is a bit of a beanpole who doesn't know when he's on to a good thing. Little does he realise that he hasn't enough oxygen to stay below the surface of the water for too long. Only Myrtle can save him!

The game starts at the quayside with Myrtle in desperate pursuit. Gordon, replete with snorkel, flippers and all, plunges into the clear blue water and is immediately lost from sight. But Myrtle is determined not to let him escape and dives in after him, her two legs transmogrified into a fishy tail as soon as she hits the briny.

The water is deceptively inviting. Sticks of dynamite which have been ignited, threaten to explode at any moment. In addition, sharks, swordfish, piranhas, jellyfish and sundry other seaside nasties patrol the waters, taking great chunks out of Myrtle's flesh whenever she bumps into them. Too many encounters and her only life is lost, leaving poor old Gordon doomed to die.

Fortunately, she can continually revitalize herself by quaffing the bottles of stout that lie scattered on the rocks below the surface. These, along with other items, are part of the cargo of a shipwreck impaled on the rocks. The amount of energy she has at any particular time is indicated by a stout bottle in the top right hand corner of the screen. As her energy is spent, the velvet black liquid in the bottle gets lower and lower.

Swimming past the shipwreck, Myrtle explores an underwater maze which appears to have no exit. Along the way, she comes across various items which she may find useful such as anchors, a tyre and a lamp. If she picks up the lamp, she can see her way through the murky caverns where her lovely Gordon might be lurking.

A pulsating heart, at the top of the screen, begins to pulsate all the more when she gets closer to him. Should she fail in her mission, then the heart, not surprisingly, breaks in two and crumble into dust. But if Myrtle does get close to her beloved, this does not always mean she can rescue him. At times, the rocks can form an effective barrier.

In her search, Myrtle discovers an underwater city, a la Atlantis, with its statues of strange Gods, the awesome remnants of a lost civilisation. But she cannot tarry there too long for the pointer on the meter, also at the top of the screen, is slowly moving. If it should reach the red zone, then all is lost. Fortunately, there are a number of air bottles scattered about which Myrtle can take to her loved one.

This game is a race against time with only Cupid and stout on your side. Can you avoid the numerous nasties and get to the luckless Gordon before his air supply runs out? Let's hope you're a good swimmer'

CRITICISM

'The Instructions for Mermaid Madness are tab: very witty and jolly, and informative, too. The game isn't quite as good. The graphics are very big, and Myrtle's boobs are a good example of the animation. Colour is a bit over-extravagant, because, though it makes the game more attractive, initially, the sprites soon start clashing, and that spoils the whole effect. The storyline is good and the game is fun to play; but though it's addictive, I can't help thinking that SOFT DESIGN could have done a little better with this one'

'Crikey! What a strange game we have here. The whole of the sea bottom is beautifully covered with lots of fishy nasties. The characters are all very large and well detailed - especially Myrtle, who is extremely well-adorned. Although the presentation is very good, I found that some characters suffered from a terrible flicker. Quite often I found that the whole game crashed if I turned up in the wrong part of the scenery when changing screens. Mermaid Madness is lots of fun, but unless you can make that breakthrough in the game then I'm afraid you may be disappointed'

'The only really appealing thing about this game is Mark Bytes' intro on the cover of the game: everything else is trite. The gameplay is slow and boring and your energy goes very quickly so high scores are quite hard to get. The graphics are poor and there are many attribute problems which really start to get on your nerves. The characters are large, undetailed and garish in colour, and the backgrounds are uninteresting. The sound is also below average - there are some spot effects during the game and a trashy tune on the title screen. I can't really recommend this one as it is, on the whole, poorly finished.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: A left, S right, FULL STOP down, SPACE collect or drop objects, drink bottles of stout
Joystick: Kempston
Keyboard play: fairly responsive
Use of colour: colourful but attribute clashes and flicker
Graphics: large
Sound: below average
Skill levels: one
Screens: 30
General Rating: A colourful game with a jolly story but not very polished.

62%
68%
65%
65%
66%
41%
66%

Screenshot Text

Myrtle has locate Gormless Gordon but can she get to him? If only she hadn't eaten so much candy....