A&B Computing1st January 1988
Published in A&B Computing 5.01
Yes, he (it?) is back. Superior Software's enormously popular Repton makes yet another appearance - his fourth - this time starring in the story of his life.
For old hands, The Life Of Repton is a collection of 40 new screens for Superior's Repton 3. If you're a fan, that alone should be enough for you to go out and buy a copy.
If, on the other hand, you acquired a BBC Micro over Christmas or you've been living in the asteroid belt for the last two years, a few words of explanation will be in order.
You control Repton - a cute little reptilian character - and the object of the game is to move him around a maze collecting diamonds and killing monsters as you go. Each maze contains earth sections which you can dig through and barrier sections through which nothing can pass.
Then there are the boulders - the fun and frustration part of the game. An earth section will support a boulder but if you undermine it, it will fall. If it lands on top of you it will kill you. To add a little more excitement to the plot, some barrier sections have curved tops and a boulder will roll off these if unsupported at the side. Boulders are very useful, though, as you can kill monsters by pushing and dropping boulders on to them. In fact, boulders are the only weapon you have - this is not a zap-and-blast-'em game. Fast fingers alone will not win the day.
All the graphics are large and chunky and you need to plan your moves carefully otherwise a boulder may trap a diamond or Repton himself. There are several puzzles on each screen and you can call up a map of the easier screens to help your planning.
That's the basic story. The Life Of Repton includes the original Repton 3 shell but not the screens. The 40 new screens load in sections of eight. The first set depicts Repton as a baby, the second shows him at school, the third is Repton in his teens, the fourth is Repton at work and the fifth is Repton as an old man. The graphics in each section have been re-designed so, in the baby set, Humpty Dumptys take the place of boulders, teddy bears take the place of diamonds, a fireplace is the skull and irate dogs and toy soldiers take over from monsters and spirits.
The graphics in the other ages are similarly appropriate - as a teenager cigarettes take the place of the skull (subtle hints at work here), at work a floppy disc is the spirit and as an OAP war medals become the diamonds. The screen designers have done an excellent job.
The Life Of Repton also includes the Repton 3 screen editor which allows you to edit existing screens or construct entirely new ones. The editor is an excellent piece of software in itself and can be controlled by the keyboard, a joystick, an AMX Mouse - the AMX rom must be fitted - or a trackball.
Before you can edit a screen, however, you must complete it. When you do, you are given a five-digit code number to be used in the editor. You are also given a password for the next screen, so you don't have to start from screen one every time you play.
The instructions are generally helpful although the filename of the teenage screens is "Teens" and not "Teenage" as stated. Another oddity can be found in the part of the instructions which tells you the puzzles arenot impossible. It says: "We assure you that Around the World can be completed."
Just a couple more niggles. The disc label said 40/80 Track compatible. What it didn't say was that you have to flip the disc for the 80-track version. I had been using the 40-track side and I was extremely annoyed (to put it mildly) to find the Baby file missing.
The instructions say this loads with the main program so it's no loss when you're playing the game but unless it's on the disc you won't be able to load it into the editor. Fool that I am, I spent over an hour trying to edit the "Baby" screens.
The problem was compounded by the fact that the first edit code number is not 56882 as the instructions say - it's 15890. My own fault. I've reviewed enough software to know by now that if something doesn't work it's likely to be the instructions which are at fault.
Anyway, if you've a 40-track drive make sure the baby file is on your side of the disc.
Meanwhile, back at the program, if you manage to complete all five sets of eight screens without using a password you are eligible to enter a competition. Upon completion of a set, a congratulatory message appears along with a competition entry code-number and to enter you need all five code numbers.
On June 30, a draw will be made from all the correct entries and the winner will receive £200, a signed certificate and a Repton 3 Fun Pack consisting of a Repton mug, a Repton badge and two Repton pens. Twenty runners-up will get the certificate and the Fun Pack but if you can't wait that long, a coupon on the instructions offers you one for £1.95.
The program is compatible with the BBC Micro and Master series and a special Master version takes advantage of sideways RAM to store both game and editor in memory at once.
Niggles apart - and they're nothing that a little care couldn't put right - The Life Of Repton is a super game which will keep you busy for days - probably weeks. If you don't have a Repton game already then buy this.