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Activision Inc
James Software Ltd
1985
Arcade: Platform
£7.99
£3.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes

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24
Chris Bourne

Included in the useful inlay of Toy Bizarre is this playing tip from the author himself:

'Listen, it's important to remember that you can control Merton while he's in the air. Also, the screen wraps around, that is, move off the left side and you'll appear on the right.' Activision obviously aren't giving anything away except a lecture on what wrap around means!

In this game you are cast as Merton the toy factory maintenance man who is unfortunate to be on the night shift when the factory goes berserk. Your task is to restore order, or die in the attempt, at the very least you will realise what it is to be understaffed.

Essentially Toy Bizarre is a straight forward platform game with four levels. On each of three of the levels there are two valves which periodically pump out a squidgy purple object, later identified as a balloon. If Merton can be encouraged to burst the balloons he will score points, however, should any of the balloons escape they will release a toy, a flying pink submarine, to be exact. Contact with the toys is unhealthy so the more balloons you can destroy the easier your progress will be. Bonus points will be awarded if you turn the valves off thus stemming the flow of balloons, not too much too ask is it? All you have to do is walk past them and off they go. Well life never is that simple and in this case the complication is in the form of an animated bodice called Hefty Hilda.

Hilda spends most of her time chasing you round the screen trying to do you in, as well as turning all of the valves back on. If you are to succeed then you will have to survive to the end of your shift.

Should you survive the first screen you will be presented with another, but it will be harder than the last because the platforms will be arranged so as to make jumping from one to the other that little bit more difficult and of course there will be more balloons. There are a few nice touches to the game which should help to keep you interested. As the toys move to the factory floor, to become balloons again, they will try their best to kill you, your only defence is to hope that one of the toys will land on one of the paired pistons located on each of the platforms, when it does you will be able to stun it simply by jumping up and down on the other piston, I admit it's not a great deal to look forward too but you could give Hilda a nasty shock.

CRITICISM

'After playing Toy Bizarre I had to check if the name Activision on the cassette was the real one. I found this game rather unaddictive with jerky graphics and the central character was difficult to handle. He got killed many times, the pause after damage was unbearably long winded with him jumping off the screen. Unfortunately the game left me with that 'Pedro' and 'Cosmic Cruiser' feel. I hope Activision haven 't lost their way as this is certainly not the way forward. I did not actually enjoy Toy Bizarre, but I'm sure there will be those whose opinions differ. Pretty average-ish.'

' This is one of those games you play without thinking as it needs no skill nor brains to play, just jump on the balloons and collect tea cups and extra lives. Its graphics and sound aren't that bad, but they're nothing to write home about. I like the way your man once hit by a toy or squashed by Hilda, walks off looking very flat'

'Toy Bizarre is an unusual mixture of platform game and catching game. What is unusual is that objects (balloons) that you have to collect are mobile and after a while turn into a destructive toy. The game idea is very, very simple and even a youngster could pick it up quite quickly, which could be a good selling point. I find this game very playable and it does get progressively fast moving, as the hours tick on. I like some of the features such as 'Tea Time' when you are allowed to get points for every object, including toys, you catch, and also the way you get an extra life - you have to grab it when it appears somewhere on the screen. Graphics are neat, smooth and well detailed. Overall I think the younger games player will love this game although as an older one I found this game fun to play as well.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: O/P left/right, Z to jump
Joystick: Sinclair 2, Kempston, Cursor type
Keyboard play: very responsive
Use of colour: above average
Graphics: some disagreement, but they seem smooth enough
Sound: good, with a nice tune
Skill levels: 1 with rapid progressive difficulty
Lives: 5
Screens: unknown, but several
General Rating: Again, mixed feelings, ranging from average to good, but at £8, very expensive.

70%
72%
64%
73%
62%
48%
65%

Screenshot Text

You have to dash around like mad stopping the balloons from blowing themselkves up and turning into toys, which as we all know can be a bit bizarre.