Grand Slam? Wossat? Turns out, rancheros, that this is the brand new name and corporate style of dear Ol' Argus Press Software - and much do they need it, I hear you cry. 'Cos let's face it, the standard of games from that much knocked software house has scarcely been Olympian in the past couple of years. (Remember The Tube? Grange Hill?) But Stephen Hall, the MD, liked the company so much that he bought it (a la Victor Kiam), and he's pledged that in future things will be very different. And I for one am prepared to believe him if Terramex is anything to go by.
As you know, I'm a bit of an arcade adventure man, and the current lack of same on Speccy is a source of great sadness to me. Boo hoo. I mean, you can't go on playing Head Over Heels forever, can you? So this one's than a little welcome in Berkmann Towers, and a right cracker it is too.
Your mission is a fairly perilous one, certainly The world's under threat from an enormous asteroid, that has foolishly chosen to head in this direction. Unfortunately the one bozo who can save us all is a certain Dr Albert Eyestrain, a wacky genius who disappeared into self-imposed exile when his prediction of the forthcoming KER-BOOM! was met by universal indifference. Result: you are parachuted into a rugged desert landscape, and it's up to you to find the old barmpot and put together the pieces of his Positronic Asteroid Deflector.
What it all comes down to, then, is our old chum Problem Solving, so I shan't give too much away. But essentially, you've got to find your way around a maze of screens, and pick up any objects hanging around. You can play one of five characters - an Englishman, a Frenchman, a German, an American or a Japanese - and the problems change slightly depending on which one you pick.
This bald description, though, cannot possibly do justice to such a complex and subtle game, and this thinx I, has a smidgeon or two to do with the chaps who dreamt it up to whit, Teque Productions. This is the Gremlin breakaway of Shaun Hollingsworth and Peter Harrap, the programmers who gave us the Monty games - including, of course, our very own Moley Christmas. This game's much in the same line of fire - loads of jumping about avoiding things and trying to work out what the heck's going on.
As usual with Shaun and Pete's games, Terramex (awful title, doncha think?) is crammed full of jokes and atmosphere. If you try and push your little helper over the sort of precipice he'd rather not go over, he'll shake his head two or three times before venturing any further. Sometimes, as for instance when you're trying to get the barrel near the start, this hesitation can be fatal. All your booty is carried by a line of bearers (bottom right in the display) who can be scrolled from left to right as you decide which implement you need to use at any one point. And to give you a hand, there's a think key (T) when you're wondering what to do next - although this has been known to tell you serious porkies, so take what it says with a barrelful of Saxa.
Naturally it's viciously hard to get anywhere much, though like all the best games its not too tricky to get going. And there's enough of it all to keep you going for more than a couple of loads, so it does a bit more than just look pretty. I've sussed a few things out so far - mainly that a fair number of the objects don't count for much, but you may as well pick them all up anyway. Oh, and that thing that looks like an outside privy on the far side of the scrolling landscape is in fact a balloon and basket. And whaddya need to make it fly? All I can say is, don't try the party manifesto, even it it is mostly hot air! Haw haw.
So, a great start for Grand Slam - even if all they've done is hire the right people to do the job. But isn't that what delegation is all about? Phil, make me a cup of coffee...
Cracking arcade adventure fresh from the kreative keyboards of Those Who Made Monty. An auspicious start for Grand Slam.