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TV Games
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Graham Taylor
Chris Bourne

I have a problem with Blockbusters. The problem is Bob Holness the quiz master on the TV show. He... how can I put this? He makes me go yeeeeearggggggggrgrgrgrgrgrgrgrhahahahahahhhhhhh!!!!

I had to overcome a good deal of residual prejudice before I could even Load this one up. That and the fact that the original version of the game was put out by Macsen. Both biggish obstacles you'll agree.

Well this Blockbusters is a reworking of the game of the TV series by TV Games - the latest Domark label. The reprogramming has been done by ODE which did Trivial Pursuit and, it has to be said, the firm has done a highly professional job. I'm still not sure though.

Here's the game - just like the TV series: you answer questions posed by quizmaster Bob Holness. Each correctly answered question lights up a hexagon on a grid made up from 20 of them - if you can light up a line of hexagons from one side to the other you win the game. The answer to each question is given by the initial letter on the centre of each hexagon. From such humble beginnings began the now majestic Blockbusters which gave us such legendary phrases as 'Can I have a P please Bob?'

Bob Holness actually appears in the computer game - he lurks in a corner of the screen all digitised and daft looking - not only that but when you answer a question he gets animated! Your Spectrum flips through a bunch of digitised screens of Bob in different poses, and with my Bobphobia it made me pretty sick I can tell you. Clever though, and evidence of the efforts ODE has gone to.

More clever touches - the big problem with this sort of game adaptation is that you have to type in answers to the questions. This means that not only do you have to know the right answer but you have to spell it correctly as well. But that's not what happens here - Blockbusters will try and make sense of whatever you type in and if it is right but for the odd spelling mistake there is a good chance it'll understand what you want.

It doesn't work every time though and consequently wrongly spelt right answers still cause much frustration when Bob (despite the misspelling routines) still thinks you've got it wrong.

If you win two out of three games then, just like the TV programme you get the 'Gold Run' in which you have to cross the board in 45 seconds.

So it goes, there are a lot of questions, your Spectrum really will print 'Can I have a P please Bob?' and the game actually features an animated Bob Holness. Hard to see what else you could possibly expect from the game, really. Personally I think it has a longevity of around three minutes (apart from watching Bob go mad with excitement which is pretty funny). Fantastic job ODE, but I'm not sure there is point.

Label: TV Games
Author: ODE
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: None Bob
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

As good a computer version of Blockbusters as there could possibly be. Some may wonder if there is any point...


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ODE (Oxford Digital Enterprises) is a programming house working across a wide range of machines. The team consists of Jenny Coles, Dermot Quinn, John Wood, Richard Yapp and David Pringle. The original ODE'd first release was an adventure game for the C64 based on Macbeth!

SOFTOGRAPHY: Macbeth (Thorn EMI, 1984), Trivial Pursuit (Domark, 1986), Sailing (Activision, 1986), Titanic (Activision, 1986), Yes Prime Minister (Mosaic, 1987).