1986
Arcade: Action
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

40
Clare Edgeley
Chris Bourne

Bounder almost gives you vertigo just to play it. Imagine you're in a helicopter looking straight down on the patchwork of the landscape and there's this ball bouncing up and down underneath. The ball gets bigger as it bounces up, disappears to a dot as it falls away, and rebounds up again.

The theme to Bounder is as old as the hills, yet Gremlin Graphics has presented it in a highly original way. Instead of the old bouncing ball off the platform routine, you play from on high - bouncing through landscapes of stone walls, mountain ranges and other unrecognisable landmarks. Your route is easy to spot - just land on the hexagonal slabs and you'll be OK. Bounce on anything else and it's 'Splat!'

There are 174 scrolling screens, chock-a-block with nasties and tortuous routines. Beware the missies, the moscita birds (the what birds?), the binoculoids, manic teeth in the shape of chomper domes and stickits!

After a few false starts you'll work out the safest route on each level and here the pause button comes in handy if you want a breather. You begin with seven balls and 40 jumps and pretty soon you discover they decrease and increase (respectively) at every question mark you come across in the terrain. These give mystery bonuses, and you are as likely to lose ten jumps as gain two balls when you land on one. It's a question of luck. The arrows you find are more useful and enable you to take longer jumps over the jumbled landscape terrain below.

Though a joystick makes life easier, the keyboard gives greater control and, it seemed, extra bounce for both forward and backward moves.

At the end of each level is a simple bonus screen - mostly an excuse to amass huge scores. When you get to this screen just bounce around landing on all the question marks, each of which is worth a certain amount. There's nothing to avoid, and it seems to be purely a matter of luck as to how much each question mark is worth. Very hit and miss and very boring.

Contrary to my initial expectations, I found Bounder to be quite addictive and not the walkover I expected. The vertiginous view and bouncing ball make for an original format. And the dratted ball never seems to land exactly where you want it to. It's quite fun learning how to control it, whizzing around and trying to leap on to the arrows and question marks in the more inaccessible parts of the screen.

Bounder's the type of game which is great for a little mindless relaxation - good in short bursts.

Label: Gremlin Graphics
Authors: Quiet Bunch
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Clare Edgeley

***

A clever idea and the unusual perspective add to the playability. Mindless fun. And wots wrong with that?

3/5