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US Gold Ltd
1987
Arcade: Platform
£8.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Alkatraz Protection System

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40
Phil South
Chris Bourne

Absolutely brilliant. That's the phrase that hopped, skipped and jumped into my brain after playing this game for a couple of hours at a stretch. Solomon's Key is a conversion, by Probe Software, of the fab and popular arcade coin-op machine by Tecno, a very addictive arcade strategy game. To be perfectly frank, coin pickers, it's as corking a rendition of an arcade as you'll find anywhere. And is it addictive? Well, I've had to stop writing this review at least twice for 'just one more go', so you can take it as read that it's more addictive than peanuts or digestive bikkies! (Yum!)

Although a sort of platform type, it's actually more strategic, as during play you can place the platforms and break them up as you go along. Choosing where you put the platforms, to allow you a leg up or let a baddie drop, is crucial and though this might sound like Slow City, it's actually a very fast process once you get the hang of it. You can pick up and drop platforms on either side, one up or one down any way you like. Except for the gold bricks, which are indestructible (tsk!), all of the bricks can be crunched or dropped anywhere on the screen.

Your objective is to get the tiny gold key, found in a hard to reach spot on the screen, and then go to the exit on that screen, whereupon you're whooshed off to the next level. (Yipe!) Now this seems easy when you explain it like that, but in actual fact it's very hard indeed. You'll need a lot of goes to learn the technique for each room, and it can get quite infuriating. But the amazing thing is you never lose your temper or get bored with doing it. No matter how close you were to the exit before the time ran out, you still press the start button for one more crack at it! Aaaagghhh!

The graphics are brilliantly done, if a little anaemic in colour, but really well animated. The gameplay is, I s'pose, similar to something like Boulder Dash/Rockford's Riot, where you're hopping around the screen collecting treasures and keys before heading for the exit. The main difference here is that if you walk off the end of a brick you'll fall, but at least you can fall all the way down the screen and not die.

Oh dear! I can see that for the next couple of weeks I'll be sneaking off for quick rounds of Solomon's Key and I confidently predict that you will, too. If any game we've reviewed recently deserves to be a smash hit, this one does. Buy it!

The most addictive game of the year, and one of the very few coin-op conversions which is every bit as good as the original.

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Screenshot Text

Here's your bonus timer, which ticks off the seconds it takes you to finish the screen. If you can collect the key and treasure in the room before it reaches zero, then the timer numbers are added to your score.

This attractive little trinket is one that you learn not to grab. If you pick it up, it rings and an angel of doom will chase you around the room.

This character wanders back and forth across the top of the page. Wait until he's gone by, jump onto his level, drop a brick and hop on it into the exit.

Here's our hero, tromping through the dungeons in search of gems and baubles. He can create bricks to jump on, or zap them if they're in his way.

Here's the key to your escape, hidden among all these bricks. You have to get this before you collect all the gems and baubles.