According to Superior, on the BBC Micro Repton Mania is even more popular than Elite! In fact, the original Repton has been followed by six sequels together with Repton mugs, pens and cuddly toys! Even allowing for the weird nature of BBC owners it's obvious that the brightly dressed lizard is a bit special.
The introduction of Repton onto the Spectrum is via the bundling of Repton 1 and Repton 2 on a single tape or disk. Repton 1 is by far the easiest to start with, it's made up of 12 caverns and when you complete one you get the password for the next. To complete a cavern you have to run about collecting all the diamonds before the time limit runs out. To start off with there's just the diamonds, the earth stuff you move through, monsters and boulders (which crush Repton if they fall on him).
While swift responses are vital to avoid the monsters, the heart of the game is solving the puzzles, eg how do I get the diamond without that boulder sealing off my exit? On the first cavern, puzzles can be solved instinctively, but later on a little thinking is necessary when safes (which need keys to be opened) and eggs (if they fall monsters appear) are added. On eight of the caverns a map will appear when fire is pressed, on the final four it won't.
Repton 1 duplicates much of the addictive gameplay of Boulderdash, but lacks some of that game's inventiveness and graphic charm. Whereas in Bouldedash the diamonds have a greed-inspiring sheen, here they're unattractive and blocky. Even cruder is the large lizard itself, which has only about three frames of animation moving sideways. Sound is limited to a blip when you collect something and a simple tune on the front end. By way of compensation scrolling is fast and perfectly smooth. But if the generally disappointing presentation makes getting started difficult, once you've begun playing, stopping is extremely hard. The combination of time limits, tough puzzles and fast monsters makes for a really compelling game.
Repton2 suffers from the same presentational problems as the original, but additional features such as transporters, meteors and skulls add variety, livening things up. The main difference though, is in gameplay - instead of there being 12 caverns there's just one immense puzzle, consisting of 16 levels linked by transporters. To complete it you have to collect 4744 earth sections, 42 jigsaw pieces, 1634 diamonds, kill all 18 monsters (by dropping boulders on them) and lots more besides, all without making a single mistake!
At first Repton Mania looks drastically over-priced, but once you begin to play the game it becomes apparent you get more than enough gameplay for your money. Unlike most blast-'em-ups this could easily keep you playing for months on end, so if you really do prize playability over graphics look out for the lizard.
'I must admit that I was truly shocked when the first two Repton games sauntered into the CRASH office. I played them on the BBC ages ago but couldn't get very far on either (probably because the teachers at school kept kicking me off the computer!). But having now played them for longer I must admit that Repton is quite good fun. The graphics are basically abysmal and sound isn't much better with an ancient tune stuck on the front end and minimal effects throughout the game. But the gameplay is addictive and the frustration of dying at a critical moment or dislodging a vital piece of rock will keep you playing for ages. Both games could definitely have been better presented and the graphics and sound leave much to be desired. But as they stand, they should provide enjoyment for quite some time.'
NICK … 71 %
Fascinating, addictive gameplay more than makes up for the lacklustre presentation.