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1984
Arcade: Platform
£7.50
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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34,36
Chris Bourne

In collating this review the office was full of odd sounding comments like, 'What's a Googly Bird like to do?' Reply: 'Sleep mostly -with it, because Fluffels lick everything to death.'

There was a time when army commanders were cautioned to make sure their men looked after their feet properly and everything else would be okay. That was in the days when men marched everywhere. The old caution is a good pointer to playing Backpackers Guide to the Universe, because in Pan 1, your main task is to collect a hit squad of wierd aliens who have been isolated in cages on the Planet of Exile, in order to go up against the egregious Scarthax who is threatening to pull the Great Plug of the Universe.

Fantasy's favourite hero Ziggy is back in the saddle - or to be more accurate - in the harness of his backpack. The backpack is quite a marvellous invention (see the October issue of CRASH for more details!), which is capable of holds all the various wierdos that Ziggy frees. The problem is knowing what also to collect to both feed them and keep them happy so that they won't die of heartbreak or become a meal for some other creature.

To help you in your nurse-maiding task is the Backpackers Guide which is located on the reverse side of the cassette from the actual game. This colourful device will introduce you to the creatures and their needs. Ziggy's backpack also allows hi toy about, but it uses up more energy than walking, as does use of the flamethrower which deflects the wraiths that flit about the planet's caverns.

Contact with the wraiths also depletes energy. When the energy runs too low you will be beamed back to the main capsule and repair time is added onto your overall playing time. This is the interesting facet of Backpackers. The three projected parts must add up to only the 24 hours Scarthax has given the Universe before he pulls the plug. To have any hope of getting through to complete all three parts you must complete part one in under 12 hours (real time), which is why something like backpack repair time is important.

At any time during play you can press SYM SHIFT and a blue status box appears with scrolling information. This informs you of amount of backpack damage and interesting details like how your creatures are doing.

Backpackers Guide to the Universe Part One is played in a giant complex of caverns, a large maze, in which keys and useful objects constitute a large adventure and strategy element.

CRITICISM

'Having previously seen a preview of the program I had high expectations of the game. Now, at this present moment, playing the game it gradually became apparent that my expectations were set too high. Graphics are very bright, detailed and imaginative, but nothing really seems to move other than the wraiths, which is a great pity for this game. As time goes by it would have been more fun if the wraiths had developed into more evil and deadly enemies and changed from their fluffy look to a more aggressive look. As it stands Backpackers seems to lack in 'action content'. Saying this, the game does not lack content - a vast amount of strategy is needed to collect al the creatures out of this huge maze of caverns and to keep them all alive. This where the marvellous Backpackers Guide comes into its own and provides many hours of enjoyment just reading what creatures are, what they like and what they dislike. Ziggy, my favourite super hero since Pyramid was brought out, now has this wonderful backpack - it's marvellous what this device is capable of doing. When Ziggy flies, he moves very quickly, accurately and it's fun to control him when he's doing so. Walking is a different matter - why has my favourite super hero got such spindly insignificant legs? They don't seem to be very well animated either. I'm sure his thin pegs are the reason why he doesn't walk very quickly (probably because they are so weak). This game has many good points and will probably provide marry hours of enjoyment in strategically capturing, feeding and nursing this planet's wierd but wonderful creatures and taking them back to your space capsule. Other than this though, there doesn't seem to be a great deal of addictive qualities.'

'At last Backpackers has arrived, and with it the even longer awaited return of Ziggy. When you see Backpackers you will see that it has truly amazing graphics which would benefit just about any game! Backpackers has the ingredients for a really great game, b graphics (no sound though), Ziggy, a brilliant plot and not forgetting the wierd and wonderful creatures which inhabit the Caverns of Exile. But sadly, the game didn't telly grab me. I don't know why but I just didn't find enough action in the game to keep me compelled for long. But with that said, it's still an enjoyable program which I'm sure many will like. On the B side of the tape is the Guide which (must say is a delight to read and it provides vital information on the conservation of your animals after you have freed them from their cages. I mean how else would you know that you feed Urks on teabags an that the Flufelump is a blood sucker (it looks quite cute actually). Overall Backpackers is a fun program but it had limited appeal for me.'

'Here is a game that will appeal to those who enjoy adventure and strategy games and want an arcade game that isn't too demanding on reaction skills. It's true that you have to be able to avoid the wraiths, but the real skill in Backpackers lies in collecting the creatures from their cages and discovering the useful items that help to keep them alive, as well as coping with the other useful objects that help you in your quest. These include keys which allow you to withdraw some of the stalactites and stalagmites and ind shortcuts. All this is done to a background or wit and humour and marvellous graphics. Ziggy flies very well, although the animation on his walking about is a little thin. With the second and third parts yet to come, Backpackers should prove to be a big hit and a very involving game.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: O/P left/right, Q/A up/down, bottom row to fire (when flying) and to pick up (when walking), BREAK to beam back to capsule, SYM SHIFT for status report
Joystick: Sinclair 2, Protek, AGE, Kempston
Keyboard play: responsive and well laid out
Use of colour: excellent
Graphics: excellent, imaginative and varied
Sound: none
Skill levels: 1
Lives: N/A
Screens: not known, but loads
Special features: game on Side 1, guide on side 2 of the tape
General Rating: perhaps lacking on the action side, otherwise an original and excellent program.

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Screenshot Text

Just one of many zoologists dreams.

Knock knock, what's there.