Your Sinclair1st October 1986
Published in Your Sinclair #10
The Trap Door
Possibly the weirdest programme on the telly this autumn is now being weird on the Speccy. YS's resident berk, Phil South opens the Trap Door to see what' s cookin'...
Life as a lowly Berk can be a bit trying. Like when He Who Must Be Obeyed wants his fried eggs and the stupid Bird doesn't lay. Or when you're trying to make boiled slimies, and the flippin' slimies don't want to be caught. Or when you're trying to get a can of worms together and that divvy Drut keeps eating them before you can can 'em... tsk! There he goes again!
And now Him Upstairs wants his eyeball crush, but the Crusher keeps missing the vat. You went to all that trouble to grow the eyes, pick them and put them in the vat, and now the daft beggar can't even crush them for you. Time's run out and Him Upstairs has changed his mind! That does it. It's time to end it all by throwing yourself into the inky depths beyond the trap door... Ahhhhhhh.
It's a well known fact that if you present the best programmers with a computer that has limitations, they'll make it their business to push their games so close to those limits you can't stick a fag paper in the gap. Witness the quantum leap in graphics between the first games on the Speccy like Manic Miner and the latest offerings like Starstrike II and Heavy On The Magick. So, you may have thunk to yourself, that's as far as the attribute-stricken Spectrum can be pushed. Oh ye of little faith. If I told you that I d just played a game on my Spectrum that wouldn't look out of place on an Amiga, would you believe me? Fortunately you don't have to take my word for it. Check out the screenshots for yourself, and see whether you can tell the difference between this and an animated cartoon...
Based on the forthcoming plasticine peopled TV show of the same name, The Trap Door is the story of Berk and his encounters with the beasts lurking under the door in his kitchen floor. If the series is even half as funny and cleverly done as the game, then it should be good indeed. And you have to look very closely indeed to pick out any attribute clashes at all; even more startling as the sprites themselves are enormous. Some are at least a third of the screen high! The amount of animation in each single sprite character, not to mention their artificial intelligence, is more than most games have in the whole program!
You have a series of tasks to perform for your hungry master upstairs, and not only do you not know what they are beforehand, but the tools you need to do the job are scattered around your dungeon. Some are small and hidden within others, but the problem with most of them is that you have to suss out the task they're most suited to first. I say most suited, because you can use almost all the items in more than one way. This comes in very handy if you lose the proper utensil to complete a particular meal; a spot of lateral thinking and you can usually use another to the same effect.
Berk can move every object in the dungeon; those which are too heavy to lift he shoves along the ground. You don't have positional problems picking things up either, as Berk zeroes in on objects and doors. In a lot of other games the first hour or so of play is spent learning how to cope with the sprites. No such problems in Trap Door. Everything you want, you can get. Just gently push Berk in the right direction and he'll get the idea and carry out your wishes.
Even the music and sound effects match up to the graphics and playability. For the best effect try passing the sound through your stereo from the EAR socket, or even listen to it with a pair of headphones! Don't believe anything else you hear, this is the game for the Speccy. And don't be put off by the packaging either. Yes, I know it's a bit naff, but ignore it, especially that sticker. Height of bad taste, I call it. Brush all these obvious turn offs aside and buy it. For my money, this is one of the best arcade games ever on the Spectrum. (And yes, Piranha, you can quote me on that.)