Remember poor old Sweevo, who had the job of clearing up planets? He coped with one weird world, and now they've thrown him in at the deep end of another - Deathbowl. This planet is flooded with water and the scuba-diving mechanical moron has to pull four plugs in order to drain it.
As in Sweevo's World, the game is composed of 200 3D locations. This time, they're even more detailed and packed with amazing aquatic antics. Sweevo has changed his appearance and donned a wetsuit, so as to look positively human (poor fella). However he's still a robot and what with all that water around, his main problem is rust.
To pull out the plugs, he first has to collect the correct four objects and drop them at the plug. It's reminiscent of taking objects to the cauldron in Knight Lore and just as difficult.
The watery caverns are connected by portholes in the rock and in each one a new surprise awaits. There's plenty of scenery with rocks, seaweed, anemones and oysters every-where. but there's also plenty of wildlife. Bumping into static objects can stun you, and being savaged by one of the undersea monsters does nasty things to your "rustometer".
If you get too rusty the game ends. You can fight off the effects by picking up oil cans but there are a limited number of these to do the job. The adversaries come in several well-animated forms including large wolffish, jellyfish, seahorses, shoals of piranha and even baby whales.
As well as the oil cans you can pick up other objects, some of which are used on the plugs and others as weapons. The weapons give you three shots but you can kill a specific creature only with the right weapon. For instance bent spoons (?!) work on jellyfish and horseshoes on seahorses.
Killing creatures is important, as it may cause doors to open or objects to come within your grasp. It also gets them off your tail: several of them have the nasty habit of following you between locations. If you waste weapons it could prove costly, so identify your targets early and use them efficiently.
The caverns are split into six levels and to get between them FTL has come up with another ingenious transport system. To go down you just swim over a whirlpool and it sucks you down to the next level. To go up you swim over a bubble point on the floor and soon a bubble will lift you gracefully upwards.
Bubbles don't always go all the way up but may burst halfway up the screen. This is handy for swimming over barriers or reaching objects on ledges because you have no other way of gaining height.
Anyone who remembers the fingers from Sweevo's will be pleased to hear that they're back in the guise of long-necked sea monsters that will suddenly stick their heads up from the ground, catching the hapless diver on top of them.
The graphics are superb, as you'd expect from FTL/Gargoyle. The gameplay has plenty of original touches, although I did find myself experiencing deja-vu from time to time about other 3D games. It's quite a challenge to complete but great fun right from the start. The music is a marked improvement too: Rob Hubbard has created a great piece for it. A lot more frantic running around than most 3D games, but this just adds to the fun.
There is some horribly good software this month. The follow-up to Sweevo's World is no exception. Marvellous 3D perspective, "hydromation" and a plethora of stranger-than-life characters make this another Gargoyle goodie.
Sea-greem, clear green!
Get one object to a plug.
P. Detailed background graphics and characters.
P. Great animation on Sweevo and other characters.
P. Excellent Rob Hubbard music throughout game.
Grab Factor 86%
P. Nice underwater setting and control.
P. Frantic gameplay gets you involved.
Staying Power 85%
P. Lots of exploring and tasks to complete.
P. Some unoriginal elements detract.
Enough new stuff to make this an excellent game.