Publisher: Spectrum Holobyte
Machine: Commodore 64/128

Published in Zzap #36


As foreman of a large warehouse, it's the player's duty to relocate misplaced boxes to their assigned storage area. This is achieved by directing a mechanical warehouseman around the warehouse's fifty maze-like levels, pushing boxes as he goes.

The title screen shows the warehouseman in the lobby of the building in front of two elevators: one leads to the screen designer, the other to the warehouse.

Choosing to play signals the appearance of the player select screen, where one to four players enter their names and select a time limit of up to twenty minutes.


The warehouseman reappears in the elevator, standing adjacent to the level select keypad. The preferred maze is selected by directing the workman's hand to the required buttons and keying in the desired number (01 to 50). The elevator then takes him to the correct level, which is loaded from disk.

The warehouse floors are viewed from above and contain four basic elements: walls, boxes, a storage area and the mechanical warehouseman. Boxes are relocated in the storage area but can only be pushed individually. An information panel at the foot of the screen displays the level, the number of moves and pushes taken, and the amount of time elapsed. Scoring is thus based on the relative quantity of these elements taken to complete each task.

A single wrong move can be retrieved, but should the mistake lie in an action performed previously and the situation prove hopeless, the current maze can be reset or a new one selected. A pause feature displays the present high scores and also allows the current game position to be saved. Once a level is complete, a tune plays informing you of the fact, and the next maze is loaded.


Returning to the lobby allow entry to the 'edit' elevator. Here, the player is able to design his own screens using the same features employed in the preset mazes. These are then saved to disk and played as normal.


This is one of the simplest and most addictive of the Commodore puzzle genre: it's also the hardest and most taxing! The idea is so deceptively basic that it lulls you into performing actions without thinking; as soon as concentration lapses, you make a move whose mistake doesn't become apparent until ten actions later.

When you think the solution is easy, you push a box in the wrong direction and find yourself trapped! Fortunately a couple of features redeem the compelling masochism: the ability to choose any of the levels at will, and the 'undo' and save game options; but in the end success depends on an increasingly powerful ability to think strategically.


Forget about the four-colour, blocky graphics and simple, clicking feet sound: the game extracts mental agility of an order which proves irresistible.

The only spoiling feature is the multi-load, but even this is neither excessively slow nor annoying. If you're a brain-squeezing puzzle freak with nothing to do, Soko-Ban should keep you happy.


After confounding us with the infuriatingly addictive Tetris, Mirrorsoft now provide Soko-Ban to complete the torture! The game looks and moves pretty awfully, but the puzzling gameplay is among the most subtly devious I've come across.


Each screen appears deceptively simple, but one momentary lapse is all it takes to ensure a press of the screen reset button!

The designers have done a terrific job in creating some of the sickest puzzles I've seen; play takes on a feeling of solitaire chess, where you must be able to think logically and up to five or six moves ahead.

The presentation and front end is very good, being marred only by the slow disk access. There are definitely some annoying aspects about the game itself, though, such as the lack of colour and variety in the screens, the slow speed of play and the pauses during screen reset and move undo commands.

However, even with these, I can still recommend Soko-Ban to anyone wishing to give the old logic centres a good workout!


Presentation 87%
Good construction set, pleasant front end, and good range of options including game save. Slow and poorly structured disk access mars the effect.

Graphics 30%
Blocky, but effective four-coloured backgrounds with reasonable animation on the main sprite.

Sound 24%
Appealingly crisp tapping footsteps and an occasional ditty; otherwise silent.

Hookability 84%
It only takes one or two attempts before addiction sets in.

Lastability 89%
Fifty levels of increasingly compelling and frustrating puzzlement.

Overall 81%
A superb puzzle game lacking only in polish.