John Prince
1985
Arcade: Platform
£6.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

88
Chris Bourne

Here's your chance to meet some of the big names in politics) With the release of Big Ben Strikes Again Artic have brought the caricatured faces of some of the most well known Members of Parliament to your Spectrum. The game is basically a platform arcade affair with nasties being the members of Mrs Thatcher's government, assorted notes of varying currency, bouncing barrels and helicopters! All the mobile nasties patrol an area of the screen rather can seeking out Ben, but are deadly if he blunders into them. Ben (he of the title) is in fact a reporter looking for an exclusive about the government, for his paper, rather than the famous clock-tower.

Ben is on a mission his nose for news has caught a whiff of a potential scoop, and he ' s travelling round the Houses of Parliament trying to piece together the big story he's sure is about to break. Ben has to collect gifts for the various political figures in the game, and present them in exchange for leaked items of news. All kinds of bits and pieces can be picked up on the way around the screens and added to Ben's inventory by simply walking over them.

To get the rather portly character you control from one screen to another, you use doorways which may be anywhere on the screens. You don't have to complete one screen before moving on to the next, so it's fairly easy to go exploring straight away. Jumping and falling gets you to different levels (though falling too far is fatal), and there's the odd ladder to scamper up and down tool.

The game comes with a fairly comprehensive screen editor which is menu driven and allows you to tinker with the contents of individual rooms or completely redesign them if you so wish. Once a screen has been modified or designed from scratch you can save it to tape and play it again whenever you like. Indeed you can fine tune selected screens in the game as supplied, making them harder or more difficult according to your taste. Alternatively, there's no reason why you couldn't assemble a completely new game to amuse yourself with but you are stuck with the library of mobile characters and can't design new nasties of your own.

CRITICISM

'Oh dear. Flickery sprites abound. Poor graphics and error checks riddle the game with faults. Good caricatures of some of the politicians are lost In this otherwise abysmal game. Very, very primitive. Don't buy this.'

'Apart from the slight amusement caused by the mega headed caricatures of the Tory cabinet, the overall fun got from this game was, as near as makes no odds - nothing. The sprites flicker at a horrendous rate, and the checks to see if you've hit a baddie are appallingly poor on occasions. After Mutant Monty, which I really liked, Artic have really come down in the world. Definitely not a winner'

'At first glance this just looks like a boring platform game with a few interesting little caricatures of politicians, but little else going for it. Then you find out about the screen redesigner and things look up. In tests I couldn't change the position of the moving characters once I'd put them in a screen I was designing without scrubbing the whole lot and starting again: A bit frustrating. Lode Runner did this sort of thing much better. For the price, this game falls short and lets Artic down. They can do better.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: Q up, A down, O left, P right, BOTTOM ROW jump
Joystick: Sinclair, Kempston, Cursor
Keyboard play: adequate
Use of colour: overdone
Graphics: very poor, with odd exceptions
Sound: below average
Skill levels: one, but you can adjust the difficulty
Screens: 20
General Rating: Not a wonderful offering; unattractive at £6.95.

40%
39%
39%
69%
50%
33%
42%

Screenshot Text

BIG BEN STRIKES AGAIN from Artic, with lots of caricatures of famous figures combined with arcade action. Could that be Nigel be up there?