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

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23
Graham Taylor
Chris Bourne

This year's Boulderdash methinks. Solomon's Key has similar appeal.

The art of it is as much thought as speedy response (although you need plenty of both).

And the game is both mind numbingly simple and very addictive.

Where Boulderdash had boulders Solomon's Key has blocks. Blocks that may be destroyed by a well aimed head-butt or created out of nothing.

The game idea: from the bottom of the screen your little man has to climb up using blocks as stepping stones - building as he goes - to reach an exit at the top of the screen The whole thing is under the clock - the quicker you do it the more points you get and - also - on the way there are bonus items to be collected for even more points and a key to be found to open the exit to the next level.

To begin with the problem is time - just choosing sensible routes, learning the art of manipulating the blocks and getting the key within the time limit. After two or three goes you get the hang of it and the first screen becomes comparatively simple. On later levels though, things get more difficult. Assorted creatures start to wander around the blocks - you either have to dodge them or destroy them by collapsing a block from under them at a key moment.

There are firebomb bonuses to help which mean you can wipe out on-coming aliens when the going get really tough and other peculiar objects scattered around each screen which bump up your score by mysterious amounts.

As you progress it gets very, very difficult indeed.

It took me ages to figure out how to do the second screen - you hardly have time to think before what appears to be a fire-breathing fox and disembodied head hurtle down the screen at you.

The programming is excellent. True there isn't really anything very difficult involved - nice attribute grid-shaped objects and not too many moving objects - but nevertheless the end result is really colourful, smooth and fast.

The only significant criticism I can make is that, like adventure games, once you've found the solution to a level that's it.

After trial and error I cracked Level 1 so that I could always achieve a time bonus of more than 7000 - and the level soon became merely an irritating obstacle on the way to Level 2 which I hadn't yet cracked.

A 'choose your start level' option would have been much appreciated. A small point, though.

Generally the game is wonderful, it may be simple but could well be a seriously big hit.

Label: US Gold
Author: Probe
Price: £8.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

Simple idea but a superb game in Boulderdash style. Good conversion from Probe, too. A hit methinks.

8/10