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Automata UK Ltd
Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Chris Bourne

Automata's last effort, Pi- Eyed, was joky, a bit unplayable and a bit all over the place (like the befuddled Piman). This one is quite different and boasts some excellent graphics and a good arcade game of the type where you jump from square to square avoiding the nasties and changing the colours of the squares as you go.

The object is to help Burt change the Pyramid of PI to the 'mystic' colour displayed at the top of the screen. Burt is being bothered by the belligerent Ball Brothers, Bobby and Billy. There's also Sid the Snake and the two Pixel Princes Col and Jas.

There are 28 squares, or rather diamonds, in the pyramid. From the topmost square the monsters issue forth to do their various dastardly deeds. The Ball Brothers, looking like giant Smarties, zig zag down the pyramid and kill Burt off on contact. To lure the snake over the edge there are two magic discs either side onto which Bud may jump. He is then whisked to the top and must jump off again. But the top square is the most dangerous, since that's where the Ball Brothers come from. The discs may only be used once per pyramid.

Changing the squares' colour is done simply by hopping diagonally from one to the other. As the game progresses you may have to jump on a square several times to get it to change colour. Col may well come out and undo your work, whereas Jas may actually help. Confused?

Try the game. And if you need some aid to concentration, flip the cassette over and play Lady Clair Sinclive' s latest hit single which is modestly described as possibly the worst Reggae music ever committed - Beware of Balls!


'I think this is the best ever game from Automata. The task must be completed without falling off the sides of the pyramid -unless he jumps aboard a magic flying disk, which can be useful in tight spots. The graphics are very colourful and super smooth. There's a great 'Bar' scene between games with the entire dreadful gang relaxing and Burt making fun of the Piman. Don't bother to listen to the B side!'

'Very frenetic and addictive. It takes some getting used to the controls which are down left, up left, down right, up right. You'll fall of the pyramid a few times at first. Once a rhythm has been established it's possible to zip along at a furious rate. The flipside hit single would never make Top of the Pops - they'd ban it!'

'Pi-Balled is definitely fun to play, but I don't think it's lasting appeal is that high. You quickly get used to the control keys and the patterns of attack from the Pimen and his friends. But the graphics are excellent, especially Burt when he's on one of the magic discs, slowly turning around and climbing through the sky to the top of the pyramid. Certainly unusual.'

Control keys: P/C = up right/left, L/A = down left/right
Joystick: Kempston
Keyboard play: very responsive
Colour excellent
Graphics: excellent
Sound: poor (and that's the A side!)
Skill levels: gets harder
Lives: 3
Screens: 66

General Rating: Very good, unusual and reasonably addictive.


Screenshot Text

is it Col, or is it Jas? But not a Ball Brother in sight. An that's 'you', second line up.