What d'you get it you cross Jet Set Willy with Daley Thompson' s Decathlon? You get what? Leave this page at once, that's positively disgusting! Of course, you get Phantomas, one of the first releases from a new software house called Codemasters. And for an opener that won't rock your pocket. It's not at all bad.
Yes, it's JSW only the sprites are a bit bigger. Plenty of nasties going up and down, plenty more going from right to left and plenty of platforms so that you can avoid them. Only one life though, but you can replenish your energy by picking up the little coloured squares that are scattered around the screens. And there are plenty of screens.
You play the thief, Phantomas, out to 'alf-inch the jewels hidden on the planet. But first you have to get hold of the strongbox they're kept in by switching 36 separate levers. So, it's jump, dodge, switch on, swan out. Like all good platform games, it comes down to timing - in this case, have I got time for just one more go?
But why? There's nothing really remarkable about the game. On a scale of one to ten it scores minus four for originality. Even some of the sprites are stolen straight from JSW. But it's fun with a capital Ph. And it's full of good things. Like the music. One of those tunes that you end up humming weeks later. Like Phantomas, a real nobody of a computer character. No body, just a head on a pair of feet. Like the variety of screens. Each one holds the promise of a surprise. And yes, like Daley Thompson. On one of the screens you're whisked away in a helicopter and deposited on a planet surface with yet another switch. Throw it and you're told that to run you need the keys V and B. Now run. If you don't you're squashed flat by a large rolling boulder. No body, no head, no game.
This is one of the best arguments I've seen for still comparing budget games with the full-price stuff. There's a couple of days solid playing here at a quarter of the price. Sure, if you're heartily sick of Willy clones, steer clear. Otherwise, give it a spin. It doesn't rate a megagame; not nearly original enough. And it has a few annoying faults that would've been ironed out of a full-price game (I hope).
But i'll play Phantomas again. Phor the sheer phun of it!