Copper is rather an odd looking policeman with a top hat for a body and a pair of diddy little arms and tiny legs on which he bounds along. Strange though he may seem he's still an arm of the law and is out to solve a crime. This is where the player comes into the game. Topper has to be guided round a strange environment to find vital clues so he can collar one of the seven suspects of a crime.
Topper's beat is a very weird one, with many different connected rooms containing platforms and loads of 'orrible nasties that sap his energy, shown by a diminishing bar. Should the bar reach zero then Topper dies. Never fear though, if the energy situation is rather dire then Topper can return to the 'police station' room to replenish his energy.
Dotted around each of the rooms are safes, which Topper has to collect. In eight of these safes lie the clues to the crime along with the key to the jail. All these need to be collected to allow Topper to complete the game. Most of the safes sit in very awkward places and Topper has to leap his way up from platform to platform, in Thing on a Spring style, to reach them.
At the bottom of the screen is an Impossible Mission-type radar scanner showing all the rooms and where you are in relation to them. The map has three storeys and each storey is linked by lifts. Well, they're not really lifts, more like the buckets on chains that you find on building sites. Jumping on these as they go past takes a bit of practice - if you miss one then you plummet down the lift shaft and fall into the giant boiler (which, not unnaturally, tends to be a fatal manoeuvre). If you're going up, then also beware. There are crushers awaiting a Topper who doesn't jump off in time.
If all the clues are collected then Topper can make his way to the courtroom. Here a random riddle is printed and using that and the clues which you have collected, the suspect can be successfully apprehended and taken to jail.
A nice feature about this game is that the seven different clues and seven different suspects are randomly chosen every game, so even if you solve it the next game could be completely different.
If you imagine Thing On A Spring with everything that was good in it taken out and replaced by something inferior, you would have Topper The Copper. The graphics are of a crude and gaudy nature, using bright clashing colours. The sprites are also ill-defined and move sluggishly about the screen. The overall game object is near impossible and I found myself soon getting bored before I'd even come near to making any progress. The music is tacky and fitting for such a game. I'm afraid that Topper The Copper is a bit of a let down after the high quality of previous English Software releases.
When I first played this I had a certain feeling of deja vu. It wasn't until a while later that someone said that the game reminded him of Thing On A Spring when it clicked. Topper The Copper's game structure is very similar to Thing's and the Topper character also moves like Thing. That aside, the game has nice graphics and provides quite a challenge to any platform fanatic. It's not bad by any means, but by no means a classic.
English Software have been pretty quiet of late with not a single release for the C64 in the past nine months (perhaps they're warming up for something big me thinks)? Topper The Copper isn't an exceptional game but without attempting to sound too pretentious, I would say it's a passable one. Both the sound and graphics are above average and although the gameplay is more than a touch 'contrived', the game proves an enjoyable way of passing the time.
Nice title screen and a couple of options.
Colourful landscapes with big, bright, bold baddies.
Reasonable tune which can be turned off or on.
Will you solve the crime?
And the six others for that matter?
Value For Money 67%
Just below the average Commodore price.
A reasonable platform adventure.