Remember Monty Mole? The hero who went out collecting coal and got sent to prison because of it. We-e-e-ll, he's back again, a fugitive this time and running from the boys in blue in this game converted from Peter Harrap's Spectrum version.
Cutting short his time in clink, Monty, with the aid of Sam Stoat, escaped and now it's up to you to help him find a boat so he can sail away (probably to meet his good ol' pal Ronnie Biggs). When legging it from the prison Monty, in his haste, must've taken a wrong turning.
It's too late to do anything about it now, and with the law on his tail (do moles have tails?) he has to enter a rather odd-looking building. This is where you take over and the adventure really begins.
The actual screens (there are around 48) are standard Monty Mole platform specials with piles of 'orrible thingies a-zooming around the place. As you will instantly see, Monty took a fitness course in prison and he now somersaults in true "Impossible Mission" style instead of jumping.
When you start the game, you are given the chance to select a freedom kit of five objects from a pool of twenty. The objects chosen have to be correct, otherwise you won't be able to complete certain screens and therefore the game. Once the freedom kit has been selected, it's on with the game.
The screens are explored in Jet Set Willy style and objects have to be picked up. If you don't pick them up then the game can't be solved - unfortunately some objects are useless to you and some are positively harmful, but you won't know that until it's too late, but afterwards you won't forget, will you?
There are plenty of hazards like crushers (carried over from Wanted: Monty Mole) which pound up and down and other sneaky traps that you can discover for yourself (hee hee hee).
What would a platform game be without humorous denizens, you may ask? Don't worry, there's loads floating about the place and they certainly make the going tough. All sorts of oddities like floating mugs, wasps, Things on some Springs, hands, blobbies, amoeboids, jellyites and other characters that are really weird. Mind you, nothing seems weird in a game with an athletic, somersaulting mole!
The screens are all named and you start off in "The House" and soon progress to places like "The Sewerage Works" and "The Ultimate Experience". As you go further into the game there are teletransporters and lifts, Troopa Truck-like screens and - and... 'nuff said.
Solving the game takes some time as there are plenty of puzzles and traps to keep you amused for hours and with sussing out the freedom kit Monty On The Run certainly will be a tough one to crack.
One of the most striking features of Monty On The Run is its funky bop, I mean listen and dig that groove baby. Having had quite an earful (monitors at full volume), Zzap! thought it was high time Commodore synth musicians received some acclaim, so Jaz "my Walkman is so-o-o loud" Rignall gave Rob Hubbard, composer of the Monty music a bell.
Rob Hubbard is thirty years old and has been in the music biz since he left school. After hearing the music from Activision's Master Of The Lamps and Rock 'N Bolt, he felt inspired enough to start experimenting with the C64's SID chip and consequently connected his black and white monitor to his hi-fi and started to program his own music utility. When asked whether he used any professional utility, he said that he felt that most of the utilities available are very limited with the sounds you can create. His own utility has been perfected over the last four months and he constantly makes changes to it so he can customize sounds and incorporate them into his music.
Some of his early work includes the music to Mastertronic's Action Biker, Confusion and Thing On A Spring. He considers Monty On The Run as one of his best pieces to date but thinks the new piece of music he's composing for Adventure International is going to be a lot better, complete with blue grass banjoes, fiddles and a drunken violin.
Most of his music is sketched out on an old Casio MT30 synth but he also has a Casio DX7 which he says is a lot better. Once the tune has been worked out it's over to the C64 to start experimenting.
During some tinkering, he's even accidentally stumbled upon some of the voices used in Monty, although something like the drum sounds (trying to emulate a Simmomds drum sound) took two weeks to perfect.
He feels that he's getting near to the limits of the C64 sound chip and also finds the three channels rather limiting... never mind, perhaps the new Commodore Amiga with its eight-channel stereo sound will keep him happily making computer music for a few more years to come!
Groaning loudly when I was forced to sit down and play what seemed to be yet another boring ol' platform game I found myself surprised at becoming quite hooked. Perhaps it's because the game is so nutty. What with Monty somersaulting around the place and getting splatted every 2.3 seconds there are all these strange creatures hoofing around the screen at hellish speeds, one of my faves being the one with Barry Manilow bouncing snitch. The game itself is a really, really tough one and it took me eons to get on to some of the meaty screens. It took me slightly less than that to die on them too!
During the actin an ace tune pounds away, compete with Eric Clapton guitar solos and violin bits. Truly wonderful. The bit of muzak on the high score table is another masterful composition. The game is very difficult and if you don't like dying on the same bit of screen time after time then you may find it won't appeal to you. Otherwise it's certainly one of the better platform games for the C64.
The first thing that really impressed me about this game was the incredible piece of music that bursts forth once the program has loaded. Full of 'clapping' violins, some nifty little twiddly bits and even a brilliant guitar solo, it's certainly the best I've heard on the C64 yet (I keep saying that and someone else always seems to come up with something better). It's almost worth buying for the music alone! Rob Hubbard is a SID chip wizard extraordinaire and has nearly squeezed every last drop out of it.
Music aside, the game itself is a very good and *very* tough platform derivative with some excellent new touches to it. The graphics are also of a high standard with some great use of colour, definition and animation all round, although for me they don't quite have the impact of Micro Projects' previous masterpiece, Thing On A Spring. All told, Monty On The Run is one of this year's better platform games and should prove as popular as its predecessor.
Wanted: Monty Mole showed the platform games had a lot of life still left in them, and this new one continues in the same vein and is not in vain. It's a conversion from the Spectrum, but Micro Projects know how to make such things work in a way that uses the Commodore's graphic advantages to the full. The result is a pleasing looking game. I think the others have said enough about the excellent music...
What I like most of all about Monty is the humorously mean tricks played on the player constantly. They keep you on your toes, and often when you die in a welter of frustration, you can't help laughing at the way it happened. Teleports that take you nowhere make you wary of using them, and even when you have worked out the 'safe' coloured beams per portal, you can get it wrong - and I have always hated lifts...
Monty On The Run isn't a vast game in the sense of numbers of locations, but you have to use some rooms several times, and what the programmers have packed into each one, would make several games for some software houses. I loved it.
Great scrolling high-score table and definable keys.
Colourful backgrounds and cool animation.
Aurally am-m-m-mazing, technically perfect.
It's a bit tough, but the hook is high.
Finishing it will take a fair bit of doing.
Value For Money 88%
A real canary.
Moling about has never been such fun!