Your Sinclair


Author: Andy Ide
Publisher: Domark
Machine: Spectrum 48K/128K

Published in Your Sinclair #49


If in doubt, doodle. That's what I always say. Sitting in a Neanderthal cave with only a pesky pesky sheep for company? Get doodlin'! (And they did!) Got 9,761 nuclear warheads heading straight for your key defence installations and major cities? Get doo... (Whoops, too late.)

Yup, a doodle a day helps you work rest and play. And, lo and behold, if Domark hasn't come along to satisfy our very needs. Much to the relief of school books everywhere, Pictionary is a board game conversion in which you scribble away to your heart's content, drawing descriptive pictures of words, which your partner has to decipher.

So how do you play it? Well, first, to all the dimmocks out there, I have only one thing to say. Please take your felt tips AWAY from the TV screen. Right, now throw them away, you won't be needing them. You see, Pictionary comes complete with a nifty art package, needing only the addition of your fingers and a keyboard to originate the most splendiferous of graphic designs. (Mind you, you pay through the nose for it. Just look at those prices!! £14.99 and £19.99?!? Are we being scrooged or what??)


The way it works is that around your 'drawing board' are various 'palette' icons. The ones on the left are the 'dominant' commands from which you choose, among other things, your straight lines, circles, boxes and bends. These determine the size and shape of your image. The ones on the right give you thicknesses of line and (if you want) how many dots you'd like it to be made up of, while across the bottom are seven types of shading with which you can fill in your objects.

All fine and dandy, I hear you say, but what about the game? Well, there are two ways to play - either let the computer have all the fun by drawing the pics itself so you guess what they mean (obviously a variation away from the original board game), or the DIY (Doodle-It-Yourself) version. No prizes for guessing which is the crap one (it's the one for which the computer does the drawing itself, of course). Why's it so rubbish? Well, it's too easy to cheat for a start. Once you've sussed out what the computer is trying to draw, all you have to do is tell it to stop the clock, watch it complete the sketch, then wail for it to throw up a word, which you have to reply 'Yes' or 'No' to. Since (when I played it) the word it threw up was always the correct answer (so your answer was obviously always going to be 'Yes') I think you'll agree we're not exactly witnessing the lauded art of Hitchcockian dramatic tension here. Still, the good news is it's loads better when you're playing with friends. At least then you get the opportunity of kicking them up the bum when they cheat. And even when they don't (if that's your bag).

Right, now on to the 'Doodle-It-Yourself' version, and it's loads more interesting. I was going to explain exactly how this works, but it would get far, far too complicated (though once you're actually doing it, it becomes a lot more obvious). You need at least four people - you and a partner (who to identify the pictures you draw) plus a couple of opponents. Once you've got this many together, though, it's difficult to see what you gain by playing the computer version of Pictionary. I mean, wouldn't a traditional board be better? That way you can all sit around in a circle instead of huddling in front of a TV screen, and you wouldn't have to keep explaining to Granny what keys to press.

In fact, mastering the keyboard commands can impose a degree of cat-strangling frustration while you're learning (which, in my case, took blooming ages). The reason traditional board versions of things like Pictionary are so fun is because they're all rather spur-of-the-moment and jolly and communal, but introduce A COMPUTER and not only does it take an age to load, but half the people won't be able to work out how to play it anyway.

But all is not lost! There's still the Practice option, which - unburdened by time limits - gives you free reign to draw pretty pictures ad infinitum. There's rather a neat art program in here somewhere, so if you are a dab hand at sketching there's no reason why you can't go and create some pretty spiffing and complex computer images. Get yourself a printer and you're laughing.

So, what's the verdict? Well, it's a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde this one, and quite an expensive one at that. I don't think it works well as a game (not user-friendly enough) but if it sounds like your cup of cha then its appeal might be limitless. And as an arts package you can't fault it (Except it's not in colour. Which is hardly a fault at all, actually.)

For all budding Rolf Harris's, the perfect gift.

A bit of a dud as far as the game goes but the art package is certainly worth splashing out for. That is if you want to spend this much dosh.

Andy Ide

Other Spectrum 48K/128K/+2/+3 Game Reviews By Andy Ide

  • Switch Blade Front Cover
    Switch Blade
  • Mystical Front Cover
  • Hydra Front Cover
  • Shadow Dancer Front Cover
    Shadow Dancer
  • Alien Storm Front Cover
    Alien Storm
  • SWIV Front Cover
  • Gazza 2 Front Cover
    Gazza 2
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus Front Cover
    Monty Python's Flying Circus
  • Dick Tracy Front Cover
    Dick Tracy
  • Wheels Of Fire Front Cover
    Wheels Of Fire