ZX Computing1st April 1983
Published in ZX Computing #6
I am sure readers will not need reminding that six Psion software cassettes were reviewed in the Oct/Nov 1982 issue of this magazine. Super Glooper is a cassette from the same stable, and like the other Psion software is also marketed by Sinclair.
The cassette contains two games and on the A side is the title game, Super Glooper. It is, I suppose, really a 'Pac-Man' type game in reverse. Instead of rushing around a maze eating food pills or whatever, in this one you 'paint' each square of the maze as you go over it.
There are, of course, four aliens who roam the maze, and the object is to paint the whole maze before they catch and destroy you. You have four lives per game. In each of the four corners of the maze is a shield, and if you can reach one of these you may catch one, or more, of the aliens.
For each square in the maze that is painted, a score of 10 points is given, and for each shield you get 50 points. It is profitable to chase the aliens - once you have a shield, of course - since you get an incredible 1,600 points if you catch all four aliens with one shield. Of course, shields do not last for long, and catching more than even one alien is not an easy task.
A nice feature of this game is a pause facility. If you get in a fluster - with an alien close by, you might suddenly be unable to find the right keys to get away from him - you can pause, or freeze, the game while you compose yourself. However, I found Psion's choice of control keys rather difficult to get used to. Keys 1 to 5 move you up, for example, whereas I would rather be able to use *any* of the keys in the top row for up. This is, of course, very much a matter of personal preference, other players might well be quite content with Psion's layout.
If you manage to completely paint a maze, more difficult mazes appear. If you find the slowest speed to easy, there are five levels of play to choose from and these can be selected at the start of each game.
Super Glooper is written in machine code. It is a short program and takes only 80 seconds to load. If you have already got one of the many versions of Pac-Man now on the market for your ZX81, you will probably not be very interested in this game. If not, you may well find it a useful addition to your library of games. Not a particularly inspired game, but competent and well-written, and quite good fun.
Jump To It
I also found Frogs, on the B side, an enjoyable game. It is similar to Frogger, the basic idea being simple but quite effective.
The screen displays a river with two banks, one at the top of the screen and the other at the bottom. On the river are nine lanes of boats, with boats in adjacent lanes travelling in opposite directions, left to right and right to left across the screen. (The screen looks rather like a bird's eye view down on a very busy motorway.)
Eight frogs wait on the lower bank and the object is to help them each in turn across the river to fiver jetties on the upper bank. They must jump from boat to boat, if any land in the river or miss a jetty they are lost. Points are scored for each frog that successfully crosses the river. Two factors make this game more difficult: there is a time limit for each game (100 seconds); and once a jetty has been reached by a frog, that jetty cannot be used again in that game. Whilst the jetties 'downstream' of the last lane of boats are relatively easy to reach, those farthest upstream are much more difficult to land on.
As well as jumping forwards across the river, frogs can jump backwards and left and right along the top of the boats (although they cannot jump from the back of one boat to the front of another coming along behind). Apart from the last frogs, where some manoeuvering is sometimes necessary to get to a still vacant jetty, I found I tended to use the forward keys only.
Again, this is a machine code game and the program is quite short, taking about one and a half minutes to load. Movement is smooth and the game is pretty well idiot-proof. There are nine levels of play, harder games having faster-moving boats. A league table that can record the scores of up to eight players is displayed at the end of each game, so a competition between players can be held.
This is the sort of game that requires a lot of concentration. It would probably make a very good alternative to the breathaliser test - a drink or two and I would imagine that it would become well nigh impossible to get any frogs across as the moving boats just form a blurr in front of your eyes.
Frogs is not a complicated game, but it is well-written, works well and is enjoyable. At £4.95 for the two games, this cassette represents reasonable value for money.