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The Edge
1990
Adventure: Graphic
£9.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

20
Marcus Berkmann
Chris Bourne

Peanuts has been around for so long it's a wonder some enterprising software company hasn't snapped it up before. I mean, it's a natural! Bung in all the characters, connect all their odd little foibles to a plot, and before you can say "It was a dark and stormy night" you've got a fiendish little arcade adventure, chock full of puzzles and playability.

And, amazingly enough, that's just what those Edge folks have come up with. After years of sulking over the way U2's guitarist blagged their name they've now returned to form with a vengeance. Snoopy is cleverly constructed, accurate and, for fans of the comic strip, an essential purchase.

Beginning at the back of Charlie Brown's house, by his doghouse, Snoopy has to wander through the usual network of screens and solve the problem of where Linus' security blanket is. Getting it, of course, involves solving a number of rather tricky puzzles, such as...

1) What do you do with the catapult?
2) What's the frog for?
3) How do you get the kite down from the tree?
4) Why are the keyboard controls different to the ones printed on the inlay card?

Well, they were on mine, but that's just part of the overall puzliness of this wacky little game. Once you've got used to the controls, of course, they're easily manipulated, but it can be a little hard to start with.

As with Garfield, the programmers have taken the whole notion of 'monochrome' graphics seriously and gone for just that - black and white, just as you'd see the strip in the newspaper. Even the border is grey. Colour freaks may moan at this but I find it rather refreshing.

As you wander around you find objects which Snoopy can pick up and take elsewhere, and when he gets where he needs to be he can 'use' them. Try 'using' a few things as you pick them up - what happens then may give you a clue as to what they actually need to be 'used' for. Some things, in fact, can be used more than once. Look in that jar of cookies, for instance. Now it doesn't take an enormous brain to work out one thing the jar of cookies can be used for (SCRUNCH SCRUNCH SCRUNCH BURP), but when it's empty - what then...?

The actual game is, I gather, slightly smaller in structure (and so a little easier) than in the bumper 16-bit versions. Even so, that never makes it a doddle. One conundrum has been puzzling me more than most recently - Lucy holds something, and you can happily take it off her. (I even know where it has to go). But when you put it down, whether in the right place or the wrong place, it sits in the middle of the screen, in the same position that Lucy held it, rather than on the ground. Is this a bug, or have I missed something here?

Let's be generous though and assume that this little wrinkle has been ironed out by the time you come to play the game. If so, you'll find it ruthlessly logical in its puzzles and dependent to a great extent on how much of a Peanuts expert you are. (Our little captions on this page should be useful if you know nowt, but it does help if you've actually read the strip before you play...)

My only quibble is that Snoopy himself, who's perhaps the most interesting character in the strip, is not really very interesting in the game. There's no World War 1 piloting, no Joe Cool, no nothing very much. It's a sad loss.

But on the main counts, both as a game and as a recreation of the comic strip, Snoopy's fab. As Marcie would say, "You're weird, sir..."

Excellent rendition of the comic strip, with one or two gameplay glitches but loads of good puzzles. Arcade adventures will lap it up.

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The Characters

Charlie Brown Or 'the round-headed kid', as his faithful hound Snoopy always calls him (he can't remember his real name). The poor chap's doomed to failure in all he touches - attracting the attentions of the little red-headed girl, captaining his baseball team, and, most regularly of all, flying kites. He must have lost dozens of the blighters to the kite-eating tree...

Lucy

A 'fussbudget' (fusspot to us Brits) of Olympic standards, Lucy has a black belt in screaming and shouting when she doesn't get her way. Keen at all times to enjoy herself at the expense of others, there's only one thing she doesn't much like (frogs) and one person who knows this - Snoopy...

Linus

Lucy's younger brother and worshipper of the Great Pumpkin (at Halloween time). Although reasonably hip in most ways, at least for a four-year-old, Linus is totally addicted to his 'security blanket', which he grasps next to him when sucking his thumb. And now he's lost it...

Schroeder

Musician and love of Lucy's life. For some reason he spends most of this game standing around with an idiotic grin on his face, so if he's lost anything it's clearly not his piano (oo-er)...

'Peppermint' Patty

So-called because there was once another character called Patty, who has long since dropped out of the strip. PP is a touch smitten on poor ol' Charlie Brown (who's blissfully ignorant of the fact), but seems to spend most of her time falling asleep in school. How can you wake her up?

Snoopy

Best-selling author, World War 1 pilot, '60s college radical and virtually everything else you can name in 30 seconds, Snoopy's hobby is being a dog. Sleeping on top of his doghouse and thus defying sense and indeed gravity (ever tried it?), he is the hero of this game and, indeed, of Peanuts generally. Give him some Winalot, someone...