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Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K

Other Links

John Gilbert
Chris Bourne

Breakout-style ball games have been all the rage with Gremlin, Imagine and their likes, but Mastertronic has tried a reversal of the trend in its MAD image.

Instead of knockin' the bricks out of a wall at the top of the screen you've got to build a wall at the bottom, one level of bricks at a time. To add a new level to the wall you bounce a ball across the bricks of the existing level and try to turn each brick to the same key colour as that of the score block at the centre of the screen.

Each bounce against the top side of a brick changes its colour once, in line with a pattern of colour changes. When you've bounced the correct colour on to one square you move to another. When you've finished one level another appears and takes you further up the screen until the bottom half of the screen is filled with brick ballast.

The score block also dispenses chasers - like the house of spooks in Pacman - and they hinder your progress and knock lives out of you unless you hit them with one of your limited supply of bullets. Bullets themselves look like the large unimaginative exclamation marks that used to crop up in Basic program magazine listings. On top of that, they won't rapid fire and you can only aim them up vertically. No great programming shakes here.

You can pick up bonus objects to increase score or protect you from the chasers.

Ball Crazy is repetitive, too. One wall looks very like another, and it also falls down on play niceties, such as the use of joysticks. The special joystick control program was, according to the packaging, written by The Firm. Well, they obviously forgot that a 128K +2 compatible game does nicely with an Interface II standard. The Firm's only included a Kempston compatibility and there's no way you can change key configuration.

MAD hasn't gone out of its way to bring player enjoyment in Ball Crazy but you put up with the 'no great shakes' because it's a budget game.

However, you could take me back to prehistoric times when Breakout was the in thing and I still wouldn't be too happy.

Label: Mastertronic
Price: £2.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: Kempston
Reviewer: John Gilbert

A routine romp with ball and bricks. The budget price tag doesn't make it excusable and there's no 128K+2 joystick compatibility.