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Bill Percy
1985
Arcade: Platform
£6.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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120
John Minter
Chris Bourne

I would like to think that this game was inspired by the Shropshire hills that surround its author's home but the deadly creatures and unpleasant plant life found in this game are thankfully not to be found on the Long Mynd, at least not in such numbers.
Mount Challenge is an unusual game. The player guides Professor Burk to the top of the mountain. For the sake of scientific research he must battle his way to the top while being under constant threat from the nasties that live on the mount. Even the little birdies tucked up in their nests are lethal. Burk must be guided from one ledge to another (in reality, platforms of varying length and colour). The length of a ledge can be described in terms of blocks or steps since this is how Burk moves, either one or two steps across or by one or three jumps up or down. So to play the game you consider the ledge that Burk is on and try to map out a route in advance. If Burk is on a green ledge then he cannot move at all until the energy is turned on, and then only one step at a time. If a ledge is red then movement is by one step at a time with the energy off or by two steps with it on. If you are one step from the edge of a red ledge with the energy on and you jump to the side then you are going to jump one step too far into who knows what.

On some ledges monsters await you, attacking as soon as you move onto their level, at which point escape at full speed is the only course and under that kind of pressure sorting out whether you should have the energy on or off is very difficult.

The game is played over 160 screens, the mountain being 20 screens high with the other screens taking up its various faces. Some faces have no ledges so any attempt to jump onto them will be met with mild disappointment. Getting to the mountain's summit takes a great deal of time because the author has laid so many traps. More often than not you think you've found a way up to the next level only to discover yourself trapped because the colour of the ledge you land on prevents you jumping back.

While the game does not provide a score as such this can measured by noting how many levels you have managed to scale. Three lives are allowed and in the very likely event of your losing one you find yourself back on the screen on which you died but back at the place of entry. On the B side of the tape there is a pretty standard dominoes game generous chap our Bill. The game is only available mail-order, and you can contact Bill on 069 46 345.

CRITICISM

'When I first played Mount Challenge I thought 'Oh no not another half hearted platform game' but I was wrong. The program is definitely more of a puzzle than a game but I am sure that's as intended. The graphics are OK for the type of program though a little on the boring side. I found the game extremely addictive and challenging. Most of the time was spent experimenting with different routes. It is a great game for the price and with the dominoes game on the 8 side it must have some appeal.'

'Mount Challenge really is an oddball game because the movement is dependent on the colour ledge on which you are standing. The game demands really quick decisions. At the edge of most screens one has to decide whether to jump one or two blocks but since you cannot see it's really a gamble - most of the time I was wrong and either ended up either stranded or shark bait. While Mount Challenge has very simple graphics they are smooth and every now and then you encounter minor graphical niceties that implore you to explore further. The game design is superb because the idea behind it is so deviously simple, it is frustrating, challenging and addictive. Playability was marred until the controls had been mastered. In deference to Mr Minter I will describe the game as 'brill 'n fab' so there.'

'When I was first shown this game by Mr Percy I (in Minterese) got negative vibes man' and my first impression was a bad one. When I settled down to play it I was impressed by the puzzle that the game presented and I would dearly love to get to the top of that wretched mountain. I am only sorry that more effort was not made to produce much more attractive graphics, in themselves they would have made no difference to the playing of the game but I am not happy that the existing graphics do the game itself justice. One oddity I found in the inlay was the claim that the game had been made 'deliberately harder when using a Kempston . . . ' as the player could only change energy when the stick was centred ....Hmph! sounds rather like a bug being turned into feature. Perhaps Mr Percy will combine his obvious talents with those of a good designer for his next game.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: O/A up/down, I/P left/right, W for energy on/off
Joystick: Kempston but the game is harder to play
Keyboard play: responsive
Use of colour: generally very simple
Graphics: smooth and simple, Burk is rather ungainly
Sound: nice tune
Skill levels: 2 if you consider the Kempston
Lives: 3
Screens: 160
General Rating: A highly unusual, addictive, difficult game demanding a sense of rhythm and fast reflexes, a bit let down by the standard looking graphics.

70%
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