Gordon Hamlett goes digging for treasure and uncovers a gem of a game
The number of good games that were around for some time on the BBC before being converted to other machines can be counted on precisely two fingers; Elite and Revs. Enter a third digit. Repton 3 is one of the most addictive games that I have played for a long time.
The game consists of twenty-four different screens, the object being to find a time bomb on each screen and defuse it. Before the bomb can be rendered harmless though, there are several obstacles that must be overcome first. The screen must be cleared of diamonds and monsters and the crown retrieved.
Your major hazards as you attempt to accomplish all this are the rocks. Balanced precariously on diamonds or lumps of earth, they have an unerring tendency to obey the law of gravity when unsupported. If you happen to be underneath at the time, all that happens is that you get a nasty headache and lose one of your lives. What tends to happen more frequently is that you discover that you can no longer find a way through to a particular section of the maze. Now this may come as a shock to those of you whose game-playing philosophy is 'if it moves, kill it' but in Repton 3, you are actually required to exercise those grey cells whose normal use is keeping your ears apart.
Not that the rocks are your sole problem. To start with, not all the diamonds that you need to collect are present. Some are hidden in safes. These areas are impassable until you find the key thereupon transmuting all the safes into gems and allowing you access to other parts of the maze. There are also spirits floating around. These have to be lured into cages and so turned to diamonds. The only help you have in accomplishing this is that they always follow the left-hand wall.
Eggs are perfectly safe until you disturb them. Then they promptly crack open and a baby monster hatches out. This must be killed by crushing it with a rock. Left to its own devices, it will chase and, on contact, kill you. Then there is the fungus, again deadly to touch and which spreads inexorably unless checked. And all this must be done against the clock. After all, what use is a time bomb if it does not explode after a given amount of time? There are, however, time capsules which reset the clock. These are normally positioned in such a way that you could have reached them if only you had another two seconds available. Well, they are in my case!
The key to the game though is the problem solving, and pretty tricky some of them are too. Several small puzzles frequently go into making up a larger one. Objects need to be collected in specific orders otherwise you find yourself cut off from them later. Careful use should also be made of the one-time teleporters. One of the hardest problems is enticing the spirits into the cages. It is easy if the cages are conveniently positioned along an edge, but what if they are in the middle of a room.
Then boulders have to be shunted from miles away and dropped into position - all without making a single mistake, for if you accidentally remove the wrong piece of earth, forget it, you will have to start that screen again. There are maps of the screens to help you plan your route but these are only available on certain levels.
One of the best things about Repton 3 is its presentation. Each screen has a password so that you don't have to play through from the start every time. Solve the entire game and you can enter in a prize draw. And if by any chance you do complete it all and are getting bored with it, a full editor is also included. Design your own screens and characters or just change the parameters and colours of the existing ones in order to make them that little bit easier/harder.
OK, so it does remind you of Boulderdash somewhat, but Repton 3 has enough original features for you not to mind. The graphics are bright and colourful but not particularly stunning but who gives a hang when the gameplay is as good as this. The relationship between difficulty and compulsion to have just one more go, is just about perfect. Repton 3 is quite simply one of the most addictive games I have ever come across.