Pengwyn (Postern) Review | Acorn User - Everygamegoing

Acorn User

By Postern
Acorn Electron

Published in Acorn User #021

Is no animal safe from the hands of that nasty species, the programmer? The range of creatures used in software is beginning to rival the famous Guinness zoo and this time round it's that lovable, funny creature, the penguin at peril. Well, not exactly a penguin... but a Pengwyn!

So, what's Pengwyn all about? At first sight, the game appears simple. It loads in three parts, and the challenge is to place three flashing blocks of ice in a straight line. Sounds easy. However, the flashing blocks are positioned randomly, and most of the rest of the screen is filled with ordinary blocks of ice. Pengwyn can move up/down and left/right. He (she) is controlled by four keys, and return enables the bird to move the blocks or melt them. A block of ice is melted if movement forward is obstructed, otherwise the ice cube will move.

Now for the difficult part. There are other animals around called 'Nasties' who also appear quite lovable as moving circles with a happy smile. But they too can melt ice and live up to their name by chasing Pengwyn. The only way our hero can defend himself is by hurling blocks of ice at the Nasties or dodging them. There's a time limit, so you can't afford to hang around.

It takes quite a while to get used to the game and work out a strategy. On the first screen there are two Nasties and three on the second. I haven't got any further to see how many more await!

The Nasties appear from within the ice blocks, so there is no way of knowing where they will come from - and every time one is killed it is replaced with another.

The screen display is very good and I really enjoyed watching the ice cubes melt. Pengwyn really stole the show for me, however, and he is defined so you can see him from the side, back or front, depending on the direction he is moving. You have three lives and if you succeed in lining up the flashing blocks, the screen clears and Pengwyn dances to the tune of 'When the Saints Go Marching In'. Bonus points depend on how much time you have used.

After the praise, the problems. Pengwyn is supplied on one tape for the BBC and Electron. However, the small print reveals that there are two versions, to take account of the difference in speed between the two machines. Fine, but finding the correct side for your machine is a game in itself, as the tape label is identical on both sides! I found this out by loading the Electron version on a BBC by mistake and was amazed at the speed - if you want it fast, this must be the ultimate game!

Overall verdict: excellent. It is a pleasure to review a piece of software that is both novel and well-written. Pengwyn has earned a place on my shelf with the likes of Snapper. Praise indeed!

Paul Richard