KEEPING THE BALLS ROLLING
THE LATEST sequel to Pimania, Pi-Eyed and other Automata productions is Pi-Balled. Starring the Pi-man again, the story involves the mystical pyramid of Pi, the colour of which you are attempting to change by jumping from square to square while avoiding collision with two bouncing balls, Sid the Snake, the Pi-man and other hazards.
In spite of the zany presentation which has become the Automata hallmark, including a title screen crammed with grotesque leering characters, Pi-Balled is a fairly straightforward arcade game. You score points by jumping on to a square and changing its colour and you lose a life if you fall from the edge of the pyramid - which is easy to do until you become accustomed to the unusual diagonal movements required by the game - or if you land on the same square as one of the other characters. There are bonus points for every pyramid you complete and new hazards to make successive screens more difficult.
Among the original features which add appeal is a spinning disc which carries you aloft gracefully, a free ride allowed once each screen. Beware, however, of the balls which materialise at the top of the pyramid; if you choose to transfer from your disc at the time they are doing so, you will lose a life.
Pi-Balled has lively graphics - the representation of the bouncing balls it particularly convincing - and the degree of difficulty is well-judged to please both novices and more experienced players. A pop record on side two is a doubtful bonus.