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1992
Arcade: Solo beat-em-up
£3.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
None

14
Jon Pillar
Chris Bourne

Popeye and wrestling, eh? Now theres a tenuous link. Or is it? (He said an has best confidential no-it-isn't-and-I'll-tell-you-why-not voice.) Well, no. It follows the plot to one of the original Popeye cartoons. So that's all right then. (Phew.)

To save the Earth ol' Pops has to defeat five alien opponents by whittling away their energy and pinning them to the floor. To aid him in this endeavour he's got a quartet of wrestley moves - the headlock, the piledriver, the ridiculously big fight and the shin kick.

Popeye 3 is an out-and-out joystick waggler. While Zeppelin's Tag Team Wrestling used the old 'press fire with a direction' control method, to beat your opponent in Popeye 3, you have two stages of frenetic wrist-mangling. To win the bout, you have to grapple with the alien (by waggling the joystick), then try to force him into an energy-sapping headlock (more waggling). Naturally, while you're doing this your oppo is struggling to do exactly the same thing. There's a nice bit of variety in that when your waggle meter reaches full power you can stab fire and perform a piledriver (where you pick up the alien and bounce him on his head!), but basically it's a case of whoever's misspent their youth murdering their joystick with Daley Thompson's Decathlon having the edge.

IT'S TIME FOR A TIE-IN!
The Popeye tie-in is limited to tie cans of spinach that you can grab to initiate a pretty funny cartoon scrap, and as the gameplay is mostly limited to waggling (there's that word again) it gets boring very quickly. (Another prob is that on Level One, the energy-boosting hamburgers thrown by Wimpy totally refills your energy bar rather than giving you a little bit of extra power as in the later levels, so if an alien grabs a burger when you're on the point of defeating him, you have to go through whole process again. Aie!)

Te presentation of the game also leaves a lot to be desired. The graphics are smart, but the playing area is small (most of the screen is taken up by an animated background) and the action tends to get confused and obscured by the front ropes. Soundwise, you've got just a few bleeps and bloops. The (very) basic waggling gameplay is repetitive and not even the two-player mode can save this game from the bottom drawer.

Uppers: It's got smart graphics, some fine funny bits and some tough (and silly) opponents. Downers: The gameplay harkens back to the Decathlon era - you just waggle your joystick until your arm explodes. Not a patch on Tag Team Wrestling and, after Popeye and Popeye 2, a great disappointment.

56%

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WRESTLE BETTER THE YS WAY! ... with these two flamboyant and sure-to-succeed new moves.

1. THE STEAMROLLER

Distract your opponent momentarily and run out of the stadium. Find the nearest heavy maintenance vehicle salesman and ask him to drive you into town. By questioning passers-by, make your way to a travel agent's and book an immediate flight to Ceylon, steamroller construction capital of the world. Once there, find a cafe and build up your strength with a cup of tea and a cream bun. Then ask the cafe owner where you can hire a steamroller. Use a current HGV or maintenance vehicle driver's licence and pay in advance for one day's hire. Drive the steamroller back to the airport, and smuggle it aboard the return flight. When you get back, drive immediately to the stadium. Use the steamroller to break into the general store next door, steal a kettle and a paint roller, run back to the ring and hit your opponent smartly with both.

2. THE NEUTRON BOMB

Simply detonate a Class Seven neutron bomb in the ring. NB: this move is illegal in Mexico, central China and some fishing villages on the Cornish coast.

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Trapped in an alien headlock! Your only chance is to waggle like mad and keep your power meter at full, thus avoiding being trampled underfoot. There. That's the sensible advice. You'll have to supply your own silly caption. (Sorry.)

After gobbing down the spinach his gal Olive throws into the ring, Pops can set to with alien in a massive cartoon scrap. It's a nice touch. (Pity it's back to waggling the joystick as soon as the fight's over.)

Popeye rued the day he'd bought that super-magnetic Famous Five badge from the local branch of Oxfam. But it had been so beaut that he couldn't resist it.