Is it a Pterodactyl? is it a Tyrannosaurus Rex? Is it (heaven forbid), T'zer with a wig? No, it's Vixen, the raunchiest Spectrum release Sam Fox Strip Poker. Martech has taken the pixels out of page three girl Corrine Russell and squashed up all her best bits 'till she's small enough to fit on your Speccy's screen. But raunchy rambling apart (well, almost), is there room enough for a game in the humble 48K Spectrum as well as Corrine's considerable assets?
Ms Russell's digitised pixels play Vixen, the only human left on the planet of Granath. Raised by foxes, she has vowed to her once great forefathers to avenge their deaths by wiping out the tyrannical dinosaur empire which has slowly but surely taken over the planet. How though, I hear you cry, can such a raunchy wench as our heroine liberate a planet as infested as Granath? That one's up to you, matey! Fear not though, mere gameplayer, for Vixen has a formidable arsenal (and there's not much wrong with the rest of her, I can tell you!) at her disposal. At her side swings a whip (say no more...), which comes in very useful for giving the dinosaurs a bad time. Standing, jumping, or crouching, Vixen can destroy the scaley beasts with a crack (or two) from this most daunting of weapons.
The playing area scrolls right as Vixen makes her way towards the end of a level before her limited time runs out, more than a bit like Thundercats. Certain bits of scenery can be whipped to reveal gems which score vital extra points, extra lives, extra time, or "fox time". When Vixen has enough of this fox time under her designer leopard skin at end of a level, a dramatic metamorphosis takes place, which transforms our luscious heroine into a ginger-animal of canine descent (like a fox, but we don't want to confuse you with all these buxom blonde girlies!), which immediately bolts to safety underground. These subterranean fox levels are guaranteed 100 percent dinosaur-free, and their purpose is as a bonus level. Playing against the clock, Vixen, in fox form, runs and bounds through this scenario, picking up gems, mega gems, (which increase your scoring potential above ground), and mega whips, which give you added destruction power, letting you kill even the most stubborn of dinosaurs with one fell swoop. Once fox time runs out, Vixen returns to her normal, much more delectable self.
Vixen loads in three parts, which slows down the gameplay fractionally. It's funny, but you never realise how much sound FX, tunes, and the like affect a game's overall playability until you come across a game which doesn't have any at all - the sonics are only noticeable through their absence. The pleasantly burbly tune and FX on the 128K version add a considerable amount of appeal.
Vixens best bits are purely graphical - the animation on the main character is beautiful, and the fox, although a little on the weeny side, moves superbly. The rest of the graphics suck - they might have looked worthy in 1984, but now they're quite the opposite. The game plays fairly slowly, and you have to battle your way through a sizeable number of nasties to get anywhere. Whipping dinosaurs in the right places requires a bit of nifty fingerwork, a bit of luck, and a lot more concentration! In short, it's not astoundingly difficult to play or hard on the eyes, just plain hard work. You have to go through a lot of hassle before you get any rewards.
Simply fighting off dinosaurs, jumping over holes, and occasionally belting through the bonus level isn't likely to be enough to keep most hardened garners playing for long. If you're looking for a straight forward bit of violence (should that be whip 'em up?), then Vixen is the one for you - if it's thought-provoking compulsiveness you're after, then look the other way.
Look all right, but this rumpyish runaround is less enthralling than it might've been.