Amstrad Action1st December 1986
Published in Amstrad Action #15
A great idea for a game, this: a program trapped inside your computer that doesn't want to die when you switch off.
Your task, of course, is to aid and abet the rebel program, Icon Jon, and get him out of the computer before the power goes off. To manage that you've got to complete many puzzles and explore the weird insides of the computer.
The screens are shown in 2D, and you move between them by going off either edge or 'into' a doorway by pushing up. Each location has a name - most of them are puns on the actual parts that make up a computer, such as the redundant interpreter and the klikety bit (keyboard). Scattered around the locations are objects which may not have any immediate apparent use, but will help you complete the tasks.
Two other characters in the game move around freely among all the locations. They can provide invaluable help. They're called Andy Capacitor and Charlie Chaplin. Andy is a northener and Charlie a stuck-up southern snob. You communicate with them, and perform all other actions in the game, using a set of icons and window menus. The icons allow you to perform many different tasks while the menus provide all sorts of helpful information.
There are ten icons: status, chat, terminal, manipulate, act, move, note, help, save and quit. Chat lets you talk to the other characters on a number of subjects so that you can make them friendly and more helpful to your cause. The status option tells you how Andy and Charlie are feeling, as well as how you're doing in the game, while the help icon tells you where they are. Terminal puts you onto a computer terminal if you're standing at it, where a menu of options will be given to you.
Manipulate and act both involve handling the many objects you can find. You can pick them up, drop them, examine them and give them to other characters. You can also try to use them or more specifically dig, rub, wave, hit or combine them. One other handy feature is the note-pad on which you can keep track of your progress and jot reminders of what you need to do.As you explore the computer there are various areas that can't be entered without the right object. If you do try to enter without a 'key' then an energy gauge decreases. The game ends when one of three things happens: a 30-minute time limit runs out, energy rims out, or you escape.
The graphics and sound aren't spectacular but the puzzles, icons and menus make the gameplay absorbing. It's a bit tough to begin with, until you work out the memory map near the start location (remember to use the 'breadcrumb' technique of dropping tilings to show where you've already been). Once you're well into the game there are plenty of objects, puzzles and humour that will keep you bashing away for many an hour.
On reading the instructions to this game, I thought this was definitely for me. Unfortunately, it was much harder than I had anticipated: I was barely able to leave the first screen without death standing over me.
After several attempts I really started to enjoy the game, with its humour, chirpy characters and often devious puzzles. If you enjoy silly jokes, and don't fling the computer into the rubbish tip after failing miserably for the first few attempts, then this game is a must.
First Day Target Score
Green Screen View
Absolutely no problem wandering through your computer's insides here.
P. Plenty of locations with interesting names,
P. Nice icon and window menu system.
P. Characters to communicate and interact with.
P. Lots of objects and puzzles to solve with them.
N. A bit tough to start with.