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Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 128K

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Duncan MacDonald
Chris Bourne

Collecting eggs from bird's nests is a rather naughty thing to do, and if you're caught you can face a hefty fine or even a stretch in the 'nick'. However, there's no law against collecting dinosaur eggs, so the only problem you could face is an irate mummy or daddysaurus - and as we all know; they all popped their claws many millenia ago, so there's nowt to worry about. Nowt, that is, unless you happen to be a team of Japanese explorers who have high-tailed it back to the Land of the Rising Sun with a cache of hot Tyrannosaurus 'oeufs'. Guess who's in pursuit? That's right, not all dinosaurs are extinct at all, and this one, controlled by you, is hell bent on revenge!

The Muncher is a side on viewed, right to left scroller with quite a bit of colour (and a little bit of clash). The game begins with your monster muncher pounding his way up a Japanese beach with a thump, thump, thump of feet and a glare of destructive fever in his eyes (or indeed her eyes - this game is non-sexist, cos although the tyrannosaurus is in the buff there are no wibbly bits to give any clue as to its sexual identity). Very shortly the city is in view, and automatic pilot gives way to joystick control as you begin your quest.

The idea of the game is that you have to search for the stolen eggs, which have by this time been scattered around various cities (levels) throughout Japan. Having found them, they should be deposited in nuclear waste dumps (also scattered about) which serve as incubation chambers. Hatching these eggs is a vital part of the game, as they are transformed into extra lives (you start with only one) which, believe me, you will need. The eventual aim of the game is to reach the harbour where you will be able to sail safety off into the sunset.

En route, however, mass destruction is the name of the game. Large buildings and giant skyscrapers are just crying out to be leapt, scaled (the screen scrolls down at this point) and quite simply demolished. There are loads of different joystick moves for punching, kicking and lashing your tail and you can even shoot fireballs from your mouth. (S'funny. T Rex's never did that in any dinosaur books I read).

Sounds easy you say? Well, it would be if the entire Japanese armed forces weren't out to stop you. Little (and I mean little) men on the ground fire their guns at you, while helicopters whoosh overhead and drop bombs. You can leap up and eat the choppers, bend down and eat the men or simply stomp on them. Each time you get hit you lose a bit of life-force - bullets nibble away at it while direct bomb hits take out great chunks. The animation on the whole is a mite jerky, but it's not surprising really considering the size of the main sprite (you, you clot), and the sound is good as well (well, it is 128K). Not brilliant mind you, just good. There is but one gripe, however, and that's the control response from the stick and keys - it's slow. You have been warned.

Syrupy control response asid, I have to admit that I really enjoyed playing The Muncher - there's something incredibly satisfying about razing entire cities to the ground and squashing people underfoot. Mind you, it probably says more about me than it does about the game. What a thoroughly unpleasant person I must be. Blimey.

A large sprite, prehistoric mega-romp and smash-em up with the emphasis on total destruction. Plagued by slow control response but great fun nevertheless.