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Elite Systems Ltd
1988
Arcade: Action
£7.99
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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82
Phil King, Nick Roberts, Kati Hamza
Chris Bourne

It's a hard life hopping through the world and Hopping Mad is full of ups and downs.

The player controls a string of four balls which continually bounce up and down as they move from right to left against a horizontally scrolling landscape. The player can make them jump higher (by pressing fire) and speed up or slow down their movement. The balls collect balloons by bouncing into them; a collection of ten balloons gives access to the next level.

Environments range from forest to beach scene (no time for sunbathing here) and from desert to undersea world. Each stage contains its own particular hazards, most of which burst one or more of the balls when hit. Desert cacti swallow up badly positioned balls; prickly hedgehogs and slithering snakes crawl across the earth, and lethal rooks and bees soar through the air. Extra points are awarded for collecting apples as well as other bonus objects and for jumping directly on to certain obstacles. When all four balls have burst, the player loses one of three lives.

Play skilfully enough and you can bounce through the world, over the sea and out into uncharted regions of space to boldly hop where no man (or woman) has hopped before.

CRITICISM

'The controls for the game are extremely simple; just left, right and fire, but the balls are still incredibly difficult to control as they bounce through the scrolling landscape. The backgrounds lack detail but are very colourful with the odd spot of colour clash. The sprites move easily and quickly against a smoothly scrolling background. There are a couple of nice tunes on the 128K - it's just a pity that they don't play during the game itself. The idea of bouncing is reminiscent of the ancient Kosmic Kanga but this time the screen scrolls from left to right. Personally, I'd have preferred it the other way round. Despite its simplicity, gameplay is fast and fun but also very challenging as you try to keep up to four balls out of trouble at the same time. The real problem with the game is its repetitiveness and the rather high difficulty. Still it's very playable and keeps you coming back for more; definitely worth a look.' PHIL ... 84%

'Skipping through the countryside as a series of interconnected bouncing bobbles doesn't sound like the most promising game scenario, but what starts out sounding incredibly silly turns out to be extremely enjoyable. The colourful backdrops are bright and bouncy - as with all Elite games a jolly 128K tune helps you on your sprightly way - and collision detection is totally accurate as you bound recklessly over hedgehogs, lizards and flowers, squashing the innocents as you go. The only missing ingredient is a bit of variety. If only there was a contrasting sub-game, a bit of multidirectional hopping, a two-player option - anything for a little alternative excitement When you've bounced and bounded your merry way through all eight levels of this computerised hopscotch you may feel a little disappointed that there's nothing more. Still - as long as you're not after the game of a lifetime you've got a few enjoyably acrobatic weeks on your hands.' KATI ... 74%

'The control method of Hopping Mad is very similar to that of Ocean's Wizball in that there's so much inertia it is extremely easy to go out of control. The presentation is excellent, with a tune that sounds like it has come from a children's programme, along with some colourful and jolly graphics. The game itself is terribly hard to play; with some concentration I did manage to get to the start of Level 3 but found it impossible to finish. It's a shame Elite have made it so difficult to get anywhere because the further you get the better the graphics and animation - Level 8 should be a real treat! At least they've chosen the right title for a game where, if you're not careful, you can get killed very easily in the first couple of seconds - and go Hopping Mad!' NICK ... 76%

COMMENTS
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: bright, bouncy and colourful with well-animated figures
Sound: two jolly 128K title tunes plus many varied squirty spot effects
General Rating: The unusual control method and the attractive presentation are great fun at first. However, repetitive and difficult gameplay suggest that initial enthusiasm may not last.

76%
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Screenshot Text

Watch out for the ball-eating plant.

Just hop, hop, hopping along.