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Rainbow Arts
1989
Arcade: Platform
£8.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

104,105
David Wilson
Chris Bourne

Are you fatigued by fatuous fighting games? Shattered by all those mindless shoot-'em-ups? Ooh no, missus! Well, don't get hispherical! [Groan! Ed) 'Cos here, for a refreshing change, is one of those games that places its emphasis more on the ol' grey matter between your ears than the red button on the end of your joystick. Yep, it's Spherical!

It's big, it's colourful, it's got lots of little wobbly bits, it's from German software house Rainbow Arts and it's been programmed by Probe Software, the guys behind Firebird's Mr Heli. It's also similar to Repton Mania, which Marcus rated a hot 88 in our June issue, but, whereas that game boasted its cutsie croc in casual wear, Spherical leans more towards the Gauntlet-type scenario and characters.

Basically, you play this sort of wizard chap. You and a friend have ventured into this castle when suddenly. FULATCH!, your chum gets turned into a sphere! Blimey! A hasty exit is recommended, but things aren't quite that simple 'cos you have to clear the way for your rotund amigo to roll clear of the traps and pitfalls between you and the exit!

Your wizardly powers enable you to add or subtract bricks and you can also collect various icons, including good and bad potions, gems and even a Strider-type droid thing that circles your sprite and kills the monsters! There are 80 (!) levels in all, each comprising a single screen of increasing complexity, not to mention a secret extra ten levels which you can access via a codeword received from other icons! If you choose the two player game, then you won't recognise it, 'cos guess what!? There are only 80 completely new levels in that mode too! And, true to form, these are cunningly designed so that they can only be completed by both players co-operating! (I knew all those mornings spent watching Sesame Street would come in handy one day!) Sometimes you have to get the sphere to the exit, other times you have to kill a monster. These can be huge, and explode quite nicely when bashed over the bonce several times by the aforementioned droid!

But what you're really going to need here is quick thinking! At the start of a level you have 20 seconds before the sphere starts rolling. The first thing you must do is to ensure that the sphere is safe. If you're at the bottom of the screen, and the ball is poised over a trap at the top, then some bloomin' nifty block-building is required el pronto! (Fortunately, there's an option for you to practice this!) As the levels progress, there are bigger monsters and more complicated problems to pit your wits against. You'll get skull-shaped doors that need to be removed by collecting the appropriate coloured key icon, and all manner of energy-zapping creatures to impede your passage. (Oo-er! Ed) You've got a long way to go and absolutely yonks of puzzling gameplay ahead of you. And with the very different two player interactive option it's like two games for the price of one, er, too, so you'll get your money's worth and no mistake!

And that, in a nutshell, is that! A wizard game about wizards, balls, monster squashing (or blocking) and problem solving. If your mind is getting jealous of all the exercise your trigger finger is getting, then check out Spherical!

A colourful and challenging game requiring as much mental agility as joystick skill. It's original and it's wizard! (And so are you, funnily enough!)

87%
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88%

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ICONOGRAPHY

Here are some of the icons you'll come across, and what they do for you!

SMART POTION

This, in the modern vernacular, is what we'd call a smart bomb, so, er, basically it performs the same function. Collect it by moving over the icon. Use it by pressing 'nine' on the keyboard.

EXTRA ENERGY

You'll have to guess what this one does 'cos I'm keeping mum!

SPARKLER

This baby gives you the Strider-type droid. It circles you and wipes out any baddies it touches. But remember, all good things must come to an end! (There's a time limit!)

POISON

Touch this at your peril! It'll take away your brick-building ability.

FREEZE POTION

This freezes most of the moving nasties, but be careful not to freeze any baddies which block your route!

ANTI GRAV

Sometimes you'll have a level where the exit is above the sphere! But don't despair, 'cos by operating this icon, you'll reverse the gravity - and invert the screen! Some anti gravs need to be used more than once to get the sphere up one side of an obstacle and then down the other!

LAMP

This icon will give your character immunity from all those energy zapping thingies!

PARCHMENT

This gives you longer and slower jumps.

FA CUP

Well, it looks a bit like it! Anyway, this transports you to a warp level; These are well tricky, but complete one and you'll be moved on several levels as a reward!

DOOR AND KEY

Get key icon and the doors of the same colour will disappear.

WAND

Hurrah! No probs if you get one of these on your screen, 'cos it'll get you straight on to the next level!

HOURGLASS

You know I said that the sphere starts rolling after 20 seconds? Well get this icon and it won't! It'll take a bit longer!