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Arcade: Platform
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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John Gilbert
Chris Bourne

Thing has lost none of its bounce in this sequel the C64 hit, Thing On a Spring. He's the same old Zebedee, with big eyes rather than a funny moustache, and with more muscle in his spring than a kangaroo on a pogo stick.

And he's still a hi-energy platforms ultra-long distance springy jump effort.

It's almost two years since Thing defeated the evil Toy Goblin, and he's probably almost forgotten the battle by now. But he's got to get back in there and shut down the computer, which has run amok, and is producing ghastly toys at a rate of knots. Which results in a speedy, frantic chase around the computer's circuits, travelling round pipes, bouncing on platforms and dodging the evil toys out to avenge their Goblin Master.

To shut down the computer, Thing has to pick up four pieces of a computer program - a disc, a tape, a listing paper and Rom. These are scattered around different parts of the computer's circuit, and can only be collected if you've got a sharp eye and quick reflexes.

Because Thing is FAST! Sliding down chutes, flying up in air-streams getting caught behind trap doors, these are all part and parcel of playing the game. The trick is to know which chutes to slide down, and when to take a flying leap off the platforms. And don't forget that Thing loses energy when he bumps his head or if he bounces too hard. Ultimately he'll end up losing a life, which is mirrored by a broken-heart icon appearing on the screen.

First, though, you have to get in there! And that means rolling Thing around the pipes of a multi-screen plan of the computer complex. He moves in one direction, sometimes taking other randomly chosen route at a cross-section between pipes. Your object is to steer Thing towards one of the green airducts - into a room - and away from the Goblin's guards which roll around the pipes in an effort to bounce you away from your destination.

There is a way to dodge the guards, but it costs you. You have 10 'panics'. Each time you hit the panic button you can choose to change direction. But if you use up your panics for one life, you're in big trouble. You either have to rely on luck, and reach an air-duct, or you can hit the good old 0 key again, and lose another life. Defeating the master computer isn't easy.

When you hit an air-duct it'll suck you into one of the Goblin's machine rooms where Thing can shoot down chutes, rise to levels on bubble ladders, or travel up and down pipes in search of program parts.

Once I'd been through a few of the rooms I felt a little disappointed because the traps, security devices and alien toys are always the same, although the construction of each room is different and usually well- designed... That's not so bad, though, because the authors have come up with dozens of different deadly combinations. For instance, you may find two ledges, one on top of another. You jump to the left and on top of a bubble ladder only to find that you're blocked to the left by a wall and a hidden door is closing down on your right. You're trapped and there's no way out except to press Q and lose a life, which will take you to the pipes. It's irritating but in this game it's a fact of life, so be careful where you bounce.

I've got no reservations about the monsters, though, and there are plenty of them. There are blue meanies which look like bassett hounds in Miami Vice shades, toads who wear crash helmets and go by the name of rivlets and. of course there's Gerald the Gremlin. All of them suck out your energy by bouncing up against you - all you can do is spring to avoid them.

When you've found a piece of program you go to the nearest exit and take your chance on the roller coaster pipeline again. Once you've got all four parts the program will start to run and, just like that Tron software in the Walt Disney film, it closes down the works and you win the game.

Although there's a lot of repitition in this sequel, Thing Bounces Back is a winning combination of alien action and strategy-building constructions. You don't need to have played the original Thing game to enjoy it but... Bounces Back has double the difficulty of... On A Spring, so if you've only just got your Thingies together warm up with the original first.

Label: Gremlin
Price: £7.99
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: John Gilbert

There's a new spring in this tale. Bigger than the original, but there's a shortage of new traps to fill the game map.