This game has a little top as your piece; however, it can change into a marble or a gyroscope at the press of a button - remind you of anything? Mike Roberts investigates.
Spindizzy is published by Electric Dreams, and written by the author of Confuzion, a reasonable game that just lacked an inner spark (if you excuse the pun). However, Spindizzy seems to have put all that behind both author and software house, for it is probably the best 'marble' game yet. And, as far as gameplay goes, I include the original Marble Madness. It is certainly better than Gyroscope on the Amstrad.
The theme of Spindizzy is to collect jewels from around a pseudo 3D stylistic landscape. In this game you go from screen to screen at will, unlike the usual system where you progress down a hill to the end before going on to the next level. In Spindizzy it is more like a platform game, where you have to dash back and forth, turning on/off switches to perform various tasks such as the operation of lifts.
The only hint that you have is the arrows that are plastered on the floor sometimes, with other screens you may have to throw yourself into the void, luck then judges whether you are safe or not.
Pressing 'M' throws up a map of where you have already travelled, where you have yet to go, and whether there are any jewels that you have seen but not collected, though any other information than that is left for you to decipher.
Pressing CTRL/SHIFT/ESC in the title screen throws up some credits and one or two hints, like the map will fit on a 50 x 64 grid and that *all* switches are significant, and that there *is* a cheat mode (though I couldn't find it) and that if you do make a map, send it to the author - perhaps he lost his can can't finish the game!
The scenario is fairly simple, though very little to do with the game at all - you work for 'the corporation' as a trainee assistant cartographer (i.e. mapmaker). The backroom boys have discovered a new world out in this new dimension that they have created. They want it mapped and it falls down to you to do it.
Time is money, and the whole game revolves around time. You start off with a set amount, and add to it whenever you pick up a crystal, which replenishes your power cells. As this world is hung out in space, falling off the edge of it destroys your craft. However, if you have enough energy you will be recreated - at the cost of an enormous power drain.
The craft that you are in is a Geographic Environmental Reconnaisance Land-mapping Device. Lovingly called G.E.R.A.L.D. This is your top/marble/gyroscope.
As mentioned before, your initial 'radar map' of the world shows each location as a simple blob. However, just because two blobs are next to each other on the map, it doesn't mean that they actuall connect, you may have to go around the houses to get there. Likewise, what you see isn't necessarily what you are looking at, paths and objects may be obscured.
Simple, in front and behind obscuring is easy to get past - the cursor keys allow you to alter your view to any of the four directions - with a handy compass to tell you which direction is north.
What gets a bit confusing is when you get 'towers' with two or three junctions at different heights converging - often with a lift in the middle - which has to be switched on from some remote location!
Hills are the real problem. You have to keep a steady pressure in one direction with either the joystick or the appropriate key, and then zig-zag through that current problem.
Jumps are less of a problem if tackled correctly. The further ones can be got using the boost key - either Shift or Fire, which increases your speed to some times your original. However, stopping on the other side isn't so easy. There are two ways: the first is to put on a bit of g - it uses up tme. If you keep it down for too long it aborts the game - so watch that you don't use it for stopping at the bottom of hills. Slow down with some negative joystick movements first - then press Space when you hit the bottom of the hill.
All this is much easier with the keyboard, you have eight directional keys, plus Space is much easier to get at that when you are using the joystick. With the joystick I found the directional control a bit confusing - getting lost on a very tiny ledge can be bad for your health.
Apart from the difficulties that this kind of game creates with orientation - you can't react at speed properly. It is excellent, but the orientation problem is merely one of mental attitude. After a few days of play you soon get used to it. Well, you can never get used to it, but at least you can play the game.
This kind of game will appeal to all games buffs of all types: action, strategy, platform, mapmaking - it's all there - even adventure gamers may give it a quick sneer.