Sparklers
D. Bowler
1985
Arcade: Action
£1.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

22
Chris Bourne

If you have ever been in hospital then this game could rekindle some of your worst memories. It seems that you have suffered some sort of slight accident and have woken up in a hospital, assessed your injuries and your accommodation and decided that the former doesn't merit the latter. In short, you want to go home.

St. Crippens must be the nastiest hospital on Earth. The inlay card claims that all the patients are 'literally dying to get out'. The first problem that you will have to cope with is the fact that while you are still wearing your hospital pyjamas, you haven't a hope of slipping past the security guards. Your most important task is to try and find some toys, and the only sure way of doing this is to trade with the other patients. Moving round the hospital would simply be a matter of weaving in and out of the fixtures and fittings, beds, tables, boilers and piles of washing. Except that all of the hospital staff are not only under orders to restrain any wandering patients, but they are induced so to do by a bounty for each one they catch.

Each room or ward contains the furniture that you would normally expect to find in a hospital, and is occupied by at least two members of staff. The moment you walk in through a door they will start to home in on you, thinking of their bounty. Try to evade them by dodging back and forth in between the rows of beds. At all times be careful not to be trapped. If a staff member gets you then expect a very severe ticking off, so severe in fact, that every encounter with a staff member will add to your injuries.

Initially, you are only ten per cent injured but after being caught five times your injuries will have increased to thirty five percent at which stage your character will have very visible limp. By the time you reach sixty percent injuries you will be limping about on crutches which limits your speed somewhat. Beware of the other dangers, bed pans left on floors, patients playing darts and even the results of genetic experiments. On your travels you should come across a patient who may be willing to trade clothing in exchange for other items that need to collect from other wards. Fully clothed, you can begin the long and dangerous trek to safety.

Good health.

CRITICISM

'Nothing about this game particularly stands out as being good but there's something about it that appeals to my sick sense of humour. I love the way your man's health deteriorates as he touches nurses and the like. The way the other patients behave is also very amusing - for instance if you walk in front of the television in the geriatric ward, those watching will leap up and beat you in. The graphics in this game are not very detailed so it is quite a job to work out which one of the figures walking around the ward is yours. A nice little game that errs on the side of monotony after a while.'

'This maze-ish sort of game le ft me with mixed feelings. Yes, there were certainly elements that I enjoyed, but also many things I disliked. St Crippens is, as far as this sort of game goes, nothing special But some parts, like the escapee struggling as his health deteriorates, are good fun. The graphics are pretty poor and the characters very small. Movement of the figures is again nothing special but in their own way they are quite neat.'

'This is a very difficult game to come to terms with. I hugely enjoyed the wit and humour of it all, which must certainly be its strongest point. The graphics are not very smart but they do work very well, and to be fair I think that the authors have done very well making the character do the things he does given his size. Falling over the bed pan is very well animated as well as the obvious deterioration in his health. For the money I think this is a good game if only because you're bound to have quite a few laughs over it.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: cursor keys
Joystick: Sinclair 2, Cursor and Kempston
Keyboard play: poor choice
Use of colour: restricted
Graphics: simple
Sound: fair
Skill levels: one
Lives: 18
Screens: lots
General Rating: A simple but very witty game.

45%
55%
70%
75%
67%
80%
72%

Screenshot Text

Just dying to get out? ST CRIPPEN's is to the average hospital, as a caption writer's office is to a penthouse suite. Dodge the bedpans ... and midn the nasty nurses in the corridors and wards of the horror hospital.