The Edge
Charles Bystram
1985
Arcade: Platform
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Edge

116
Chris Bourne

With overtones of Monty Python (Life of Brian?) in the wrathful hand of God striking death by lightning to the careless games player, Brian Bloodaxe sets out on a quest full of Primary Imbalance.

The Edge have abandoned 'Synurgy', what ever that was, for a more imbalanced start. Don't worry when after the animated title screen has finished doing its thing, the program crashes. Observant computer owners will notice that the Sinclair logo has become a bit moth-eaten and realise that everything is okay-yah. Soon the familiar Monty Python theme music comes up and you're away.

Away to where, you may wonder. Well the inlay doesn't help much - on purpose, as it states clearly enough. But Brian Bloodaxe is a Viking Rip Van Winkle who has woken up after being stuck in an ice block for hundreds of years. On reawakening he decides to do what he original set out to do, and conquer Britain, except now it's 1983 (a period piece as you see).

Through 104 screens of platform- inspired jumping, Brian must steal the Crown Jewels and sit on the throne. The screens are variously designed, one of the early ones is a snooker table complete with killer balls for instance, and require jumping skills. Some objects can be picked up and used like the triangle on the same screen, which keeps the snooker balls away, put it can also be placed usefully and acts as a jumping platform.

The larger of the hazards can be used similarly, like the duck whose back is broad and safe as long as you walk fast enough to keep up, but watch the beak!

Primary Imbalance seems to be a highly sophisticated programming method whereby things don't always work as you might expect. Water drowns, for instance, but Brian has a fine line in walking on water as long as he keeps bouncing. On the other hand, Primary Imbalance may be nothing more sophisticated than a game frustration factor depending on how you look at it. The ability to pick up objects and use them (Brian can only carry three at a time) does make Brian Bloodaxe into more than just a platform game, as the uses of the objects are critical to success and the Throne.

CRITICISM

'Brian Bloodaxe claims to have Primary Imbalance which suggests that anything could happen, and this is certainly the case. The Monty Python music also indicates that this is no ordinary game. BB is one of the arcade/adventure type games which these days seem to be the games and require thought as well as the customary skills. It has all sorts of happenings in it. To name a few, I found I could walk on the back of nasties but dies if I met their path - quite logical - but when jumping off a ledge onto another it decided to move away, leading Brian to a watery grave - quite illogical. So my advice is to expect anything. The idea of collecting objects to use as help as seen in Knight Lore is seen here too. Bloodaxe is an excellent game which is representative of the high class software which is being produced today.'

'Straight to the point, Brian Bloodaxe is a sort of souped-up platform game with a few major differences. The main one being that the objects you collect play an important role in performing another or several actions. Also, not everything that moves is deadly - did you know that sharks are safer from behind than in head on? The graphics are excellent and the sound is fab with a rare but appreciated continuous tune that doesn't appear to affect the movement of the graphics at all. The game is certainly fun to play though I think the platform idea has been a bit overworked and should be given a rest. But with that said Brian Bloodaxe is still a truly marvellous think, and a game which I don't think The dye could improve upon. I think Primary Imbalance refers to the hyperload - I had enough problems with that - or maybe the game is played better when you balance upside down on one finger!'

'I think I've discovered what Primary Imbalance is. It is that it takes so many attempts to load it and then you try the other side just for luck and it loads straight away! I think this has to be one of the most infuriating games I have ever played. It has good graphics and sound, everything is well drawn and moves well (apart from the Rhinos) and the only thing lacking is the instructions! There are some but they are not intended to help at all so bird-brains have to work it all out for themselves.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: CAPS/Z left/right, C to jump, V/SPACE pick up/drop, X to use an object
Joystick: Kempston, Protek, AGF (auto detection), Sinclair 2
Keyboard play: responsive and simple to use
Use of colour: good, varied
Graphics: very good, large, well detailed and smooth
Sound: excellent continuous tune
Skill levels: 1
Lives: 3
Screens: 104
General Rating: Very good to excellent, a tough thinking/skill game.

85%
86%
89%
78%
89%
76%
86%

Screenshot Text

Britain in 1983 - the ancient viking, Brian Bloodaxe faces fearsome modern opponents.