The Jungle Lord just keeps going! Since his creation by Edgar Rice Burroughs (under the pseudonym Norman Bean), Tarzan has swept through 22 novels, countless films, TV and radio shows and comics, to become one of the indispensable icons of the twentieth century.
The story of the child John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, left alone in the jungle of central Africa after the death of his parents, his adoption by the great apes, his eventual rise to become Lord of the Jungle and his fateful meeting with the American Jane has struck a chord in many of us. And with such a large potential market, how long did we have to wait for the computer game.
This BBC version of a Spectrum original has been well-coded by Dave Wainwright but sadly it does not, for me, capture any of the appeal of the character. A giant action arcade adventure (this is one you're going to have to map!), it runs almost immediately up against the lack of memory and so we have no sound and a very small playing area (about a tenth of the screen).
Scrolling left/right with gaps between screen, the adventure is reasonably detailed with good scenes of the jungle and fairly good animation of Tarzan, the natives and the lions.
The object of the game is to find seven gemstones within three days in order to save Jane being slain by the natives. These, together with various objects such as ropes, are well-hidden on the screens and appear as small boxes - entering 'object mode' at the right place will reveal the object below the playing area.
As you might expect, Tarzan can run, jump and fight and a fairly constant stream of natives, arrows and wild animals will keep you on your toes. Contact with harmful objects will cause time to pass more quickly and the three days don't seem to last very long at all!
What is confusing, I think, is the movement from screen to screen. Moving left/right is fine but many screens can only be entered by moving up the screen into the jungle and there are few clues as to where the openings are. Consequently it can take quite a time to learn your way around and, as many of the screens (especially the caves) appear identical, the game can become confusing.
I don't think this is classic material but it should appeal to arcade adventure fans who enjoy mapping and working out the puzzles of object placement. Pure action fans will probably prefer a straight kung fu game but I think that Tarzan is going to win Martech a good number of new friends.
My disappointment is due in part, I'm sure, to the fact that this was promised for release last autumn. How time flies in the jungle!