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Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K

Marcus Berkmann
Chris Bourne

Sadly, this game has nothing to do with Egypt at all, which was something of a disappointment to me as I had to cross out about 8 billion hilarious Egyptian jokes. Like the one about (Get on with it. Ed).

Power Pyramids is in fact set deep in the mists of time and space on the planet T-Pyge, where some geezer came up with the idea of Pyramids. Neat notion, I hear you cry, and although no-one came up with an actual use for the things they soon became terribly popular and much sought after across the galaxy.

You, you poor sap, are a sort of hyperspace equivalent of a long-distance lorry driver, carrying these pyramid things around the universe in between bites of your intergalactic Yorkie bar. When you deliver four pyramids on Earth, all of different sizes, they all have to be reactivated, as the T-Pygeans, to save on the spondies, switched them off before you left. But unfortunately, you are a bit of a clot, for instead of doing it yourself, you have to guide a remote control spheroid (bouncy ball to you and me) around the ramps and walkways. It'd take about a femtosecond to do it all yourself, but no ball, no game, so instead you launch into what Grandslam would have you believe is a complex maze of ramps and levels. You and I, on the other hand, would call it a spanking great platform game.

Now, regular readers will know that I am an absolute sucker for a good platty game, even though they are dangerously unfriendly (unlike me, hem hem). This one's in the Cauldron II mode, but less bouncy (the ball does a lot of rolling around in this one) and with greater emphasis on problem solving. Each of the four pyramids has a series of levels which you get to and from using teleporters. On each level there is at least one power point, and you have to activate the lot. Simple stuff, eh? Not on your nelly.

For the problems come when your try to get to the things. Other than rolling along, you have only two ways of influencing the ball's direction yourself. Pressing the space key activates certain springs, which boing you high in the air and, with careful steering, onto the next platform. And with the Caps/Shift key, you can engineer small jumps over hazards. And that's all you can do. Part of the games challenge lies in working out what you really can do with these keys, and how to get your ball to go (fnar). Things also perk up when you actually get to activate a power point, for then once harmless hazards suddenly become less harmless and more hazardous.

Other more helpful features in the labyrinth include energy boosters, which automatically recharge your batteries, anti-grav pads which bung you into the air and, my personal fave, permeable bits of flooring that let you jump up to the next level. More dodgy are accelerators which increase your speed setting to maximum, making manoeuvring around the place deeply tricky.

It's all cracking good fun, and although I'm sure I have seen about 200 games over the years that look more or less like it, it has a carefully constructed atmosphere of its own. And like all the best games, it's easy to start, hard to complete.

Perhaps the most impressive feature of Power Pyramids is its control system, which is easily learnt and used. We've had many bouncy ball games in the past which have been all but crippled by impossible control systems - Cauldron II is one that springs to mind - so it's good to see one that works so simply.

I wouldn't recommend it to everyone - specifically those dullards who aren't happy unless they have destroyed about half the universe's population before level two - but if, like me, you have a sneaking regard for these platformy things, I have a sneaking suspish that you might go for this in a big way. Now, there was these geezer from Cairo who (Shut up. Ed).

Bouncy platform game with problem solving to the fore. Doesn't look up to much, but curiously addictive and challenging.


Screenshot Text

The first screen you'll see. The space bar gets you out of that little cage thingy in the middle, but how to get up to the transporter thingy on the right? I'll leave you to find that out (chortle).

Here the space bar helps you flick around the ramp, helping you get up to the spring, which can them help you get... where? Not those yellow things on the left, for sure. Don't they look just like the cross-section of a Crunchie bar? (Is it time for lunch yet?)