Popeye (Gabriele Amore) Review | Crash Annual - Everygamegoing


By Gabriele Amore
Spectrum 48K

Published in Crash Annual 2018


As this is - no surprise - an unofficial version of the Popeye arcade game (Nintendo, 1983), you're probably already aware of the premise.

The aim is for Popeye, moving up and down the four levels on the screen, to collect hearts thrown down by Olive Oyl while avoiding Brutus. He throws punches and bottles at Popeye, and watch out for the Sea Hag who resides at the edges of each level. To defend against these two, Popeye needs his trusty can of spinach.

Despite the feature of the punch button, Popeye cannot attack Brutus or the Sea Hag directly. Punching is used both to destroy the bottles before they hurt Popeye and to gobble down the cans of spinach.


A punch bag is available, and when it's hit it releases a cage that - should Brutus be underneath at the right time - traps him for a few seconds, which gives you a bit of a breather from the chase. To complete each level, collect all the hearts.


It looks pretty, but it's way too hard to play. Due to Nirvana's constraint of moving only one character at a time, the sprites are too small to be able to avoid the bottles, Brutus and the Sea Hag.

It's also tricky to move around the play area in a way conducive to completing a level and I found myself missing the stairs that take you between the levels. I couldn't even complete the first screen despite repeated goes.


Had there been some proper playtesting before release, maybe the first screen might have been made easier in order to ease the player into the game more gently and Popeye would have been more fun to play. As it is, it's just infuriating when you lose life after life.

The music is grating: a single continuous in-game 128 tune that doesn't really go anywhere and uses only one channel. This is probably the best version of the arcade game on the Spectrum, but then there's not much competition.


Control keys: Q, A, O, P, M
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair
Keyboard play: Responsive
Use of colour: Looks nice
Graphics: Nice but small
Sound: Simple tune, plus 48K spot effects
Skill levels: One
Lives: 4
Special features: Written with Arcade Game Designer, Nirvana engine graphics
General rating: Give it a go if you're a fan of the arcade game

Mark Jones

Other Spectrum 48K/128K Game Reviews By Mark Jones

  • El Stompo Front Cover
    El Stompo
  • Pietro Bros. Front Cover
    Pietro Bros.
  • Farmer Jack In Harvest Havoc Front Cover
    Farmer Jack In Harvest Havoc
  • Alter Ego 2: Dreamwalker Front Cover
    Alter Ego 2: Dreamwalker