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CRL Group PLC
TFMG, TEBS
1988
Arcade: Maze
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Unspecified custom loader

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66
Andy Wilton
Chris Bourne

CRL produce a puzzler.

Isometric 3D games may be old hat, but it's safe to say that no-one's ever done one quite like this before. CRL seem to think it's a boardgame of some sort but actually it's more of an arcade adventure crossed with a puzzle.

The game area spans 20 levels, each with 20 or so screens to them. You start with access to only the first five levels, the aim of the game being to open up the locks between the remaining levels until you've got access to the whole thing. You can open the levels either by exploration - there are 64 keys scattered around the layout, enough to finish the game with - or by building your score up and using the points as currency to 'buy' the locks open.

The layout and object of the game may be fairly straightforward, but the low-level gameplay really is distinctly odd. Once you're on a screen, the main difficulty is getting off it again without losing lives. Typically the entrance from the previous screen locks itself behind you, while other exits have their problems too. On some screens you'll need to survive a certain length of time to unlock the exits, while others require you to score a certain number of points before you can leave.

The main method of scoring is movement: each block you bounce onto gives you points according to a symbol on its surface with one, the 'target' block, being the most valuable of all. The target moves every time you land on it, so it'll have you chasing all round the screen if you're determined to gain points fast. Targets become vital on screens with descending blocks, where hopping on the same block twice will kill you landing on a target resets the screen, opening up routes around the block layout that you'd closed off.

Ten types of special screen with extra difficulties to them will help keep you on your toes. Some have time limits within which you've got to get off the screen; some have "chains" of descending blocks that pursue you; while others feature timing problems or blocks that disappear behind you. Mystery blocks can give you handy extra points, unleash alien seekers' to hunt you down, or open screen exits for you.

This one's a pleasingly unconventional departure for CRL, but somehow its various interesting parts don't quite gel the way they might. There's mapping and route-planning if you like that side of things, while timing and similar problems offer an arcade challenge. The game task is big enough to keep you busy for a while too. It's just that for much of the game there's no urgency or immediate danger to hold your attention. Subsequent screens all look much the same, only a handful of them are really taxing and an in-game information feature lists all the different screens you can come across, so there's not the incentive to go exploring that the game needs.

Reviewer: Andy Wilton

RELEASE BOX
Spec, £7.95cs, Out Now
No other versions planned.

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 50/100
1 hour: 70/100
1 day: 85/100
1 week: 70/100
1 month: 50/100
1 year: 10/100

Takes a while to get into.

6/10
3/10
7/10
2/10
724/1000

Banner Text

SPECTRUM VERSION

A quirky icon-driven front end can be annoying and the printed instructions are none too good, but the game looks and plays fine.

Screenshot Text

A 'No Return' screen: The blocks disappear behind you so you can't turn back, and you must earn enough points to open the exits before you reach them.

If the clock reaches zero while you're still en route to the target, you lose a life.

A 'Pursuit' screen.

These exits would take you to other screens, but you've not scored enough points on this one to unlock them yet.

This is the target - you'll score 20 points if you land on this, and reset the clock.