That Sinking Feeling (Bum Fun Gaming) Review | - Everygamegoing


That Sinking Feeling
By Sunteam
Spectrum 48K/128K/+2/+3

That Sinking Feeling

That Sinking Feeling is presumably so named because, in it, you control a submarine (Spectra) which, when not propelled upwards (by you, the player), sinks downwards to the bottom of the screen. Your mission is to collect up ten treasure chests and the game is the typical flick-screen graphic adventure. There's some additional guff in the instructions about war-torn planets and being "the hunted" but there's nothing more to it than that. I managed to collect up three of the ten chests on my first go and I shouldn't imagine it's a very difficult game to complete.

That's not because it's too easy; it's made difficult by frustrating collision detection and it's the first game I've played for a while where I really felt cheated on many occasions when I lost a life. That may well be because the patrolling nasties (mostly in the form of jellyfish and bubbles) were often at least eight or more pixels away from me when I heard the ziiiipp sound that indicated I'd been deaded. The screen obligingly freezes at the same time too, compounding the misery I felt by presenting me with a visual snapshot of just how far away I was...!

On the positive side, the graphics aren't too bad, the submarine is quite responsive to control, there are handy dimples in the underwater mazes which you can duck into to take a break and there's a bouncy tune throughout the action on the 128K version. Alas, I did have that sinking feeling in quite a few respects in relation to the game itself.

That Sinking Feeling

Firstly, it's clearly yet another La Churrea-created game. There are so many of these doing the rounds at the moment that anything created with it evokes a little bit of despair from the off. Secondly, it includes mines - you know, those things that explode when you walk over them. Except that, in That Sinking Feeling, they don't explode when you move near them. Instead they explode randomly, which is as irritating as it sounds. Some screens feature six or seven of these devices surrounding a treasure chest. Bypassing them all without one of them randomly showering you with the ziiiipp sound is almost a question of luck rather than skill. Now I was careful to say "almost" there, because there is some sort of pattern to the explosions, i.e. if one mine just exploded, another one won't go off for at least a second or so. But the trouble is that, if there are seven mines to pass to get to the chest, and then you have to make your way back through the maze using the same route, your brain quickly does two mental calculations.

The first is that, to be assured of success, you may well have to wait a good half minute or so just out of range of each mine. Then you may wait for it (or another mine) to explode and, afterwards, in the window of safely, move past one mine at a time. Time taken to reach chest: 3 mins 30 seconds.

The second calculation is you may recklessly plough towards the chest and, as long as a mine doesn't randomly explode just as you're passing, you'll make it with no strategy whatsoever. Reckless, yes. Chances of being killed: About 1 in 20. Time to reach chest: 5 seconds.

That Sinking Feeling

Needless to say, recklessness usually wins out. If it doesn't, to say time begins to drag (as you sit out one mine explosion after another) would be putting it mildly!

At least on the Bum Fun Gaming physical release of That Sinking Feeling, there's some marketing hyperbole on the cover art bigging up Sunteam, who wrote the game, in a way that suggests they are a force to be reckoned with. But, whilst I haven't seen a Sunteam game before, I felt in a lot of ways that I had seen it all before. Moving a submarine around a watery environment collecting things was done by Oceano a few years ago and I personally found that game (by Ego-Trip) a lot more playable. Yes, I suppose people may play That Sinking Feeling for a few moments but, essentially, within those moments you've pretty much seen all it has to offer. If it were a multi-parter - think Imagine's Navy Moves or Ocean's The Untouchables - where you needed to collect up the chests to proceed to level 2, I think it would enthrall the player for a lot longer and would feel more "special".

As it is, well, if you can forgive the unforgiving collision detection, there's nothing really wrong with it. It just feels a bit blah. Is it worth buying? If you like underwater collect-'em-ups, possibly. But if you're looking for something you'll load up more than once, I'd say there's nothing to see here.

Dave E

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