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1986
Arcade: Maze
£7.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes

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57
Graham Taylor
Chris Bourne

Electric Dreams has released some moderately bizarre titles in its time. Bizarre good and bizarre bad.

Nothing however, has prepared the world for Prodigy. Prodigy takes bizarre to a whole new plateau. There is virtually no element of the game that is not out-to-lunch, AWOL or otherwise not playing with a full deck.

To begin with what few previous reference points are available. It looks a little like Molecule Man meets Sweevo's world. Knight Lore top-down edge-on 3D. but scrolling landscapes chock-full of odd geometrical shapes and populated with utterly odd aliens and unexpected banal items - like a shower in the middle of an abstract landscape. Got a mental image? Well it's not like that, there's more...

There's this baby. You're an alien. The baby crawls, it needs feeding, it must be washed. You need to find milk. Finding milk is not a grandiose objective to have as the basis of a computer game so you also have to find some power keys.

Find a computer, dump the keys in it and escape this nightmarish world. Thus allowing the baby the freedom to grow up into a computer programmer, or something equally worthwhile. The problem is, looking after the baby is a constant distraction - all too frequently you will have to interrupt your quest for the keys to find milk or wash it's nappies (chuck the kid under a shower). It'll follow you around but only if you move slowly. Otherwise it'll get lost. This can be a problem when hoards of failed experiments in creation are attacking you.

OK, what's all this about experiments then? Well the baby was a result of weird experiments in creation (I've never heard it called that before) but there were some less successful attempts. These include things that look like vacuum cleaners, things that look like paintbrushes and things that look like beach-balls. Whatever - they are all nasty, the only difference is some are stupid, nasty and others are vicious and nasty.

Confused? There's more. There are four general areas. One is entirely made of ice - guess what, you slide around a lot - another area is mostly fire - you get burnt. The veggie zone seems a innocent garden tended by a mutant gardener and the final area, the tech zone, contains curious machinery.

There are a million ways to die, hundred ways to get hopelessly lost, dozens of mazes in various guises (sometimes changing whilst you are in them) and almost no chance whatsoever you'll ever solve the thing. One piece of advice - make a map.

What else? well there is a teletype machine that sends you messages on what you should do.

Nothing is ever simple. There are transporters but they don't act in a very predictable way - you could end up almost anywhere.

There are so many odd things to discover in this game. If. for example you fall into one of the pits of fire that crop up occasionally you immediately zoom into the nearest shower to cool off. No option.

Is a game featuring baby nurture as a prime element going to crack it on the street? The temptation to blast the little brat is strong but, anyway, your blaster can do no more than stun. Learn to love the kid.

What is this game? it looks superb, beyond Rasputin in wild visual imaginings but with a much more complex plot. There seemed to be no more permutations of monsters possible - yet here we have several new species. There seemed to be no more games ideas to develop - but here are a dozen. And it's got sound effects like Iron Maiden tuning up.

I almost think Prodigy is too clever by half but in the end I come back for more, and more.

So, what is this game? Let's say brilliant. Like nothing else. If you liked Cylu, Knight Lore or Molecule Man that might mean you have the right sort of mind for this, but in the end you're on your own.

This is the sort of game that makes you write like an NME journalist. Why? it's like that.

Label: Electric Dreams
Author: Mev Dink
Price: £7.99
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

*****

Abstract, surreal, utterly odd 3D maze/arcade/adventure game. Very inventive and very irritating but still brilliant.

5/5

Screenshot Text

The computer. Feed it the keys to escape from this nightmare world. Everything else on this screen is deadly.

You, an emaciated alien meet the mutant zebedee. Watch out for the roving monitor on the right.

A pleasant garden scene. Think you've time for a rest?. Nah... The chef has the milk bottle.

Alien with the baby following close behind. The cheerful little brat doesn't know its rough out there...