Like the YS office at five to five on a Friday, time appears to have stopped in Ocean's latest 128K only, arcade adventure. We send aged... errrrm, ageless Rachael J Smith in search of living fossils. (Try Sinclair Abuser and Crush. Ed)
First they gave you The Great Escape but now those dinosaur hunters at Denton Designs deliver an even greater escape. It's just like some Saturday afternoon move where big lizards with stick-on rubber fins stand in for Stegosauri (classically educated reviewer), and muscular hunks spout lines like, "It's as if time stood still (gasp)." Well you'd be advised to look lively if you don't want to end up a dinosaur's dinner.
The lost plateau is not the ideal place to crash-land your four-seater plane, but it was all Jarrett could do to being his passengers to safety on the edge of a cliff. Now he's responsible for taking them out of this prehistoric hell-hole and only one thing is certain - it's going to be no picnic (the Thermos got broken in the crash).
And who are they, these four individuals, thrown together by fate? Jarret himself is the he-man all-rounder. Athletic Cambridge scholar Dirk was recently married to Gloria, a tough cookie in a fragile frame. And then there's Clive, an overweight businessman and Gloria's father, who's about to learn that American Express will not do nicely for a crowd of angry natives.
Each of these characters has their own uses, not the least of which is the ability to carry up to four objects, one of which is a bag which can hold a further four. Not that they're mere beasts of burden. Each one has their own character, which you'll need to exploit to bring everyone home to safety. For example, Dirk is a great help providing Gloria survives, but if she bites the dust he becomes a hopeless dork!
For such a vast and complex adventure, play is remarkably simple, with just four direction controls, plus fire to make the character run (must be that jungle food) - though this is hardly advisable if you're leading the group as you're likely to leave the rest behind. There are also two menus (Yum, yum. Phil) - one to select character and the other to control their inventory.
The graphics are everything you could ask and as imaginative as you'd expect from Denton, and the depth of the game is quite superb. My only grumble is that you can't save a game, which means you'll spend a lot of time repeating the early stages when you make a fatal mistake.
But all in all Where Time Stood Still looks destined to go down as a classic Spectrum game - and it's almost certainly the best that's been produced solely for the 128. More of this sort of thing, and the machine will have a whole new lease of life. So get into the realm of the dinosaurs - and find out how time flies when it stands still!
(Okay - so for once the YS Seal was so impressed with a game that it let us review a copy which still had a couple of days work to be done. Denton swears that it's working like Rentokil to iron out a couple of minor bugs - and based on past performance, we believe it. But rest assured, we'll be looking at the final release version and any alterations to the clapometer won't just mean a marking down in the mag, but the programmers will be up to their lower lips in dinosaur doodies!)
A superb arcade adventure for 128k owners only. All the thrills of lost worlds and lands that time forgot in a true computer movie!
Ever since our plane crashed into this godforsaken jungle I have been determined to keep a record of our adventures. Unluckily there is no recording studio available so I have had to settle for a diary... in the hope that one day somebody makes a computer game of the whole affair!1 May: We spent the night camping by the plane - at least Clive did. Gloria says it's just his age. As dawn broke, I gathered my troops together. The first job was to collect the wreckage, including the bottle, for water. I spread it out amongst our party (we're party animals really) so that should somebody perish we wouldn't lose everything.I got to thinking about the computer game. You could just press space to bring down a window containing our portraits, select one with the cursor arrow, then select with space again. That might produce another window, with a portrait of the person in question - in this case, Gloria - and the four pockets. At the bottom would be any objects lying around the vicinity, which could be selected by moving onto their box, pressing fire, which would change the cursor into the object, then dragging it into the top of the window.We walked left for a further box of supplies, before walking right to pick up a couple more objects, then heading upscreen, towards the mountains.1 May (later): After following the cliff face along to the left, and dodging the odd falling boulder (which reminded me of Gloria), we came to a low slung bridge (also like Gloria). A thought here on the computer game (maybe they could call it Jarret Of The Jungle) - a sound effects option would be useful so that you could hear when rocks were about to drop onto you.But I digress. We were crossing the bridge when suddenly the planks gave way below chubby Clive. Luckily I'd remembered to pick up the rope in the first screen (what - don't say you forgot), and dragged him out. Clive was grateful for the drag and is now poncing around the jungle like Danny La Rue on an off day.2 May: Night draws on - at least Clive wears his. For the rest of us this is a welcome chance to sleep. Well for Gloria and her diminutive squirt of a boyfriend, Dirk, it is. Never could a man have been more accurately named - if only his surname was Head. What Gloria needs is a real man - one with a macho name like... well, Jarret's pretty butch, don't you think?I stay awake though. There are even more important matters in hand - though I've told Dirk it'll make him go blind! We headed to the right after the bridge, following the cliff edge, and watching out for more falling boulders, until we reached a safe place to get some shut-eye, safe in the shadow of this character selection menu. It allows us to turn off the infernal music which is keeping us awake, or to reset the game if we want to live through my finest moments again.2 May (later): I have been persuaded to make a detour into the mountains on a winding path. It proved fruitful because we found a knife. That can mean only one thing - the Swiss Army were here before us. At least if I need to get a boy scout out of a dinosaur's hood I'll know what to do.Talking of fruits, we were taking a well-earned rest when Clive began to grumble. If only he'd keep his voice down but speech bubbles that size can be seen half a mile away. A leader has to understand the psychology of his charges though, I listen to their requests for food, water and a tea-break - then look at the bar chart at the bottom to see if they're telling the truth. Trying to keep everybody happy, and stopping to let the slow-coaches catch up in case they wander off on their own, is more like being a teacher with a school party. Next time I crash my plane in the jungle, I travel alone!2 May (even later): We were heading away from the mountains when we found ourselves in brown sticky stuff. I know that Clive had been grumbling that he wanted to use the bog, but the massive swamp which blocked our path was not what he had in mind. Gloria said that if you walked onto it you'd be sucked under immediately. I began searching for a path.Eventually I found one, but discovered that if you stop walking for one moment you begin to sink.With wellies full of muddy water (who insists on singing an r'n'b song about how sweaty my feet are!), I returned to land, and found that there are several paths across the swamp - only one of which will get you to the other side. A-maze-ing! I was also able to tell the others that there's a giant octopus lurking by the waters edge, which tries to grab you with his tentacles. Clive let out a shrill screech and donned his cricketer's box.Meanwhile, not wanting to appear egotistical, I think Jungle Jarret Saves His Chums (Part 1) sounds good. Just then a flippin' big budgie swooped in. 'A pterodactyl,' shouted Dirk. 'Terror - schmmeror,' I replied, 'I just hope it's not got loose bowels!' I was about to shout 'Shoo!' when... Help. The damned thing's got me in its beak. Doesn't it know that I'm the hero of this escapade... ARRGGH!(From this point the diary continues in another, more feminine hand...)Following the discovery by our gallant leader that this is one of the areas plagued by predatory pterodactyls, swiftly foUowed by his sudden demise, I, Gloria, took charge of the remaining trio - immediately ordering Clive to complete this log in his elegant calligraphy.Now without the need to stop for photographs every five hundred yards, we made good progress. I soon found a path across the swamp, about half way up, which wound round, but eventually delivered us to dry land. That led straight into a native village, but luckily Dirk has a little knack - for translation that is. I always suspected he was bilingual.Soon Clive was gossiping away with the natives about dress hints, how to sew sequins onto a loincloth, and how dropping the odd bauble may make them more friendly.Now it's a question of going down to the river, where we can refill the water bottle, then finding a way across. There appears to be a path behind the waterfall, but I'm not sure about a Bridge Under Troubled Waters. After that I've heard tell of a stone circle and another native village, as well as a temple and many other thrills. But the most exciting prospect is... appearing on Wogan when I lead these dead-legs to safety.What about Jarrett though, you ask. A tear forms in my eye. He shall have his memorial - the computer game. Only it's going to be called The Heroic Adventures of The Great And Good Gloria. So there!