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Central Solutions
1986
Arcade: Platform
£0.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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95.96
Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

If for no other reason this software is notable for its price; somewhere between the real cheapie at £1.99 and the full blown effort clocking in around the seven or eight pounds mark. It offers a graphic adventure on one side and a very simple arcade on the other. Neither are of particularly high quality and I would have thought that both could have been offered for a sum slightly less than that asked for. The adventure is reasonably interesting due mainly to its theme schools are naturally amusing and the average school day is familiar to everyone.

You kick off on a rugby field following a very simple intro tune. East takes you to a cricket pitch and west takes you somewhere completely different; so much for mapability, or is it trying to recreate that sense of being lost which is part of all school careers until sense begins to surface around fifth form? At the first stairwell loopy Mr Hollyhock rushes up to tell you of some great news. He's just seen a Gatekeeper and is offering £1 to the pupil who can catch it. Now a Gatekeeper is not the school janitor. No, it turns out to be any of several Eurasian butterflies of the genus Pyronia especially a species having brown-bordered orange wings with a black-white eyespot on each forewing. I see.

Before you can get into the act of getting the butterfly you will no doubt be accosted by some pain-in-the-neck like Mrs Birch who will pose some incredibly difficult question like 'When was the battle of Bannockburn'? The teacher looks pretty angry so you shoot out the answer which is... errrr.., exactly. You're given four attempts at the impossible after which you are slung into the adjustment unit where time seems to stand still and so does the program for a few moments. On your return to the game proper the program rather cleverly insists that you answer this same question rather than some other like 'Who painted the Laughing Cavalier'? It's about now when you decide to get up from the computer and dig out an encyclopaedia to find out all about the battle where Robert the Bruce won a famous victory over the English.

The usual batch of loopy eccentrics who pass as schoolteachers inhabit this school. In addition to the curiously academic Mrs Birch there's the daft Mr Puce who mutters 'Heh man, I just got to get some flowers' into my 'still-life' and a Miss Curvey who says 'Non intres in judicium cum servo tuo, Domine'. Even uneducated types will immediately jump to some crude translation like 'I' ll spare you detention if you get out' like what I did with the help of my Latin made slightly less difficult and obscure book. Meanwhile George the Janitor is forever asking for his shovel and Swotty Noall, the brainiest girl in the school, asks 'Hi stupid, got any sweets?'

The arcade game on the flipside is called Dungeon Dare where the object of the game is to collect 46 keys scattered about a dungeon. Your energy is sapped if you go too near or touch a monster but energy pills revitalise you. Some screens of the dungeon allow left, right and up and down movements while the platform screens allow left and right only. The curious mixture of four-directional and platform screens can be confusing at first. You are given three lives, an energy bar to show how near death you are, and time and score. As arcade games go this one is very simple, which is not necessarily a bad thing, and it does at least have smoothly scrolling sprites which is more than I can say about another arcade type game reviewed his month.

Classroom Chaos I found to be a very entertaining adventure. Its theme is a pleasant and refreshing change to monsterbashing and it creates a believable caricature of a school. It uses the Spectrum character set (both capital and lower case) and has a glaring white background on a colour TV but overall the presentation is lively and colourful. Not bad for £3.99.

CRITICISM

COMMENTS
Difficulty: moderate to easy
Graphics: small, rudimentary but effective
Presentation: fair
Input facility: verb/noun
Response: Quill
General Rating: Entertaining.

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