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Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Phil King, Mark Caswell
Chris Bourne

For the uninitiated, TRAZ, stands for TRansformable Arcade Zone. Why 'Transformable', you ask - well, because this is one game which you can alter to your heart's content, due a great construction kit.

The basic game is Breakout - it's all about knocking out coloured blocks by deflecting a tiny ball with one or more bats.

Some of these blocks release question marks which have an unpredictable effect on the bat, speeding it up or even making it go round in circles. Some types of block are indestructible though, while others are transparent and after the path of the ball as it travels through them. Monster generators create nasties which hover around the screen deflecting any balls which hit them. If all the balls are lost through traps at the bottom of the screen, so is one of your three lives. Complete a screen and one or more exits appear. Only when all the screens have been visited is the game over. In addition, a two-player mode allows a daring duo to play simultaneously, taking control of one bat in turn, or two or more bats at the same time, switching bats every so often to mutual confusion.

All the block types and traps can be moved around via the designer to create new screens. Also, any number of vertical and/or horizontal bets may be placed onscreen along with the starting position of the ball. Up to 64 different screens can be created and saved to tape. Screens are linked by definable exits, and once you've created a whole set you can play the game proper. Or if that sounds too exhausting use the predefined set of screens.

Although there are undoubtedly better Breakout variants around, the way TRAZ allows you to design your own screens makes it much more fun. In fact, just as much amusement can be had fiddling with the editor as in actually playing the resulting game. But for the budget price, it represents a great deal.

PHIL ... 78%

Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Sound: nothing more than the odd beep
Options: one or two players. Design your own screens


'The playing areas are bright and colourful, and the action is certainly fast with screen after screen full of bouncing balls and weird monsters. The screen edit facility is a good idea, not exactly novel but it's great fun and simple to use (even for me). With the amount of Breakout games on the market I don't think TRAZ would be a big hit if full priced, but at a budget price you'd be daft to miss out.' MARK ... 84%

Mostly simple blocks, but colour is used well.
Improved by the fascinating two-player mode.
Designing your own screens is amazingly compulsive.

Screenshot Text

Designer Breakout with TRAZ.