Jail Break

Author: Ben Stone
Publisher: Konami
Machine: Spectrum 48K

Published in Crash #38

Jail Break

There's been a jail break. The warden is tied to a stake in his own prison yard, and the inmates have taken over the town and are holding the citizens hostage. It almost makes you wish that you'd never joined the police force. Orders come down from above - free the warden at any cost. This gives you carte blanche to shoot just about everything - the kind of mission you really enjoy.

The prisoners are armed with guns and are lobbing tear gas grenades at anything official looking - like yourself.

Combatting the revolting prisoners isn't going to be easy, all you have, is a fast-repeating pistol - hardly a match for the horde of jail breakers. But releasing hostages (simply done by moving over them), adds new weapons, either a bazooka or a tear gas grenade launcher. They're shown on screen and can be swapped over by pressing SPACE. Additional weapons are lost each time a hostage is accidently shot, so it's back to the pistol again.

Jail Break

The screen scrolls from right to left, the policeman moving and firing in four directions. Most of the convicts come from the right hand side of the screen, although occasionally one may try and sneak up from behind.

The hostages are to be found strolling around town, blissfully unaware of the mayhem and carnage around them. But some sit in the road or in windows of houses, pathetically waving their hands, waiting to rescued.

Stage one is the town where the villains are on foot. Stage two moves to the city park where the escapees have hijacked trash vans and are intent on driving the heroic policeman into the dust. The final section takes place in the prison itself, where the warden awaits rescue - prisoners are particularly thick on the ground here.

The pistol is favourite for disposing of running convicts, and the bazooka comes into its own when clearing obstacles and prisoners who hide under manhole covers. Finally the tear gas launcher is handy for flushing out well dug-in convicts.

If additional weapons are lost through indiscriminate shooting, it may be necessary to wait for a hostage to come along for rescue before continuing the carnage.


Control keys: Q left, W right, I up, J down, O fire. SPACE select weapons
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Use of colour: minimal
Graphics: dubious sprite collision and poor scrolling routines spoil otherwise pleasant graphics
Sound: sparse spot effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: scrolling play area


At last, the long-awaited first release under Konami's own label has arrived. We eagerly loaded it up, and then ... what a disappointment! Over the last hour I've squeezed-out every last ounce of playability that is to be had from Jail Break. Now I'd be extremely happy if I never had to see it again. The game is fairly well presented, and the sound is quite bearable (although effects are used minimally). But the game ... I'm sorry Konami but I won't be awaiting your next release with quite as much enthusiasm.


Jail Break is an extremely hard game. It takes quite a while to get used to the collision system - the bullets seem to be able to go through your legs, but if they hit your hat you've had it. The scrolling is atrocious. The background moves jerkily and slowly, although the graphics are nice and detailed. The characters don't move about very smoothly and often get lost behind each other when two appear at once. Jail Break is quite good fun to play, and fairly addictive. However, it doesn't excel in any areas, and is not one of the best games with which to launch a new label.


Wow, what a totally trashable box. Wow, what incredibly poor graphics. Wow, what a generally rubbish game this is. At least Konami have got the courage to actually take the blame for it; probably because no-one else would! The scenario is hardly original, and the game itself lacks any amount of playability, addictivity, and most of the other things that would usually convince someone that a game is worth buying. Boring, not very playable, and poor value for money. Konami have already started to lose their reputation.

Ben StonePaul SumnerMike Dunn

Other Spectrum 48K Game Reviews By Ben Stone

  • Loco Front Cover
  • Agent Orange Front Cover
    Agent Orange
  • AcroJet Front Cover
  • Short Circuit Front Cover
    Short Circuit
  • How to be a Hero Front Cover
    How to be a Hero
  • Army Moves Front Cover
    Army Moves
  • Hysteria Front Cover
  • Enterprise Front Cover
  • Gunrunner Front Cover
  • Koronis Rift Front Cover
    Koronis Rift