Peter M. Harrap
1985
Arcade: Adventure
£6.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

13,14
Chris Bourne

More alliterative arcade adventure from Gremlin. In this one you play Sam Stoat, a cunning cat-burglar (or stoat-burglar if you prefer).

The object is to enter one of the four houses on the start screen (house 1 easy, house 4 hard), then locate the bomb and the match to blow the safe, and escape. Escape is only possible if you have collected the diamond necklace carelessly left lying around on the floor. On finding the bomb it will follow you around. Points are awarded for picking up any other valuables you may come across.

Each house has a series of rooms interlinked with each other, but as usual there is a lot of nightlife in them, vicious gnomes, drunks, bouncing bed springs, spiders, bats and more. These tend to eat away his energy, indicated at the bottom of the screen by a 'Bloodometer', but it can be replenished by finding Stoat Healing Elixir.

Once the diamond has been collected, Sam can leave the house through the mousehole, which turns out to be a large lake with five pillars standing in it. The three middle ones rise and fall in a rhythm which makes leaping from one to the other rather difficult. Falling into the water is fatal of course. The game is played over 80 screens, twenty per house.

CRITICISM

'Sam Stoat starts off after a heart-warming rendition of the 'Z Cars' TV theme. Remember that, no, good, because neither do I. The game is typical in layout to the recent Gremlin productions. I found the graphics okay but some of the moving characters, including Sam, were a little cumbersome. For some odd reason mouse holes were connected by separately rising pillars in a watery environment. As a game Sam Stoat was quite good, but the houses were not all that big (Barrat obviously). Gremlin, in my humble opinion, don't seem to have captured the appeal of their original Monty. But all in all Sam is a good game, pretty playable, but I have doubts as to its addictive qualities.'

'Gremlin Graphics seem to be pursuing this animal starring series. The character this time has turned to crime for his thrills and spills - if you always fancied yourself as a bit of a burglar then now's your chance. Safebreaker must be one of Gremlin 's most difficult games yet, not in the game itself but in the link screen (the mousehole connection) where you have to jump over rising and falling columns - good timing is a MUST - and it does become frustrating after a while when you cannot get over the river and continue with the game. I'd even go as far as to say that it would be much better to make this part of the game easier and make the rest of the game more difficult. There doesn't seem to be much content to this game unless live missed something, you don't really even have to avoid the characters inside the houses as they do nothing more than slow you down. One major attraction is the detailed graphics; tomato plants and flower pots are wonderfully drawn, as are all the playing characters, each being individually animated. Gremlin don 't seem to be producing games of as high a quality as Monty Mole - yes they've got the graphics right, but there's riffle game in it.'

'I'm not quite sure what the 'Bloodometer' is for in this game, unless there is some equation being made about Stoats and blood. Is Sam a vampire? Or is he a heroin addict? Sam, of course, is the character who rescued Monty in Monty is innocent, and now we know why he is familiar with the insides of a prison - he's obviously been nabbed before! The graphics here are far better than in the previous game, much cleaner looking and far more interesting, they are exceptionally well animated too. Sam Stoat is a more involving and difficult game than Monty is Innocent, but most of the difficulty seems to come from the mouse hole leaping bit rather than the main game, and this form of connection is vital to get to all the other rooms in the house. I get the feeling that what is happening now is that game need games designers as well as programmers - they are not necessarily the same thing at all. Good, well animated graphics and a simple sort of idea longer holds the lasting appeal necessary to a great game, and this seems to me to be true of Sam Stoat Safebreaker. The game looks good, but is not, I think, very addictive.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: Q/W left/right, P/L up/down (L is not mentioned on the inlay) B to SPACE to jump or enter a house
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair 2
Keyboard play: simple layout and responsive
Use of colour: good
Graphics: very good, some excellent animation and drawing
Sound: good start tune, lacking in spot effects
Skill levels: 4 selectable by house choice
Lives: it says 4 on the inlay, but this seems a little silly as you have one life and an energy (Bloodometer) level
Screens: 80
General Rating: Above average to good.

63%
74%
64%
63%
51%
63%
68%

Screenshot Text

Sam has found the bomb inside a room in one of the houses. The bomb will follow wherever he goes.

Sam Stoat, swag bag on his back, encounters a few nasties. He could always pop into one of the two mouseholes....