Publisher: Gamebusters
Machine: Spectrum 48K

Published in Computer & Video Games #77


Is Traz what the world really wants? Who needs another Break-out/Arkanoid/Addictaball/Tonic Tiles clone? Well, Cascade obviously think you do!

My first impulse was to not bother with the game. It was the seen it, played it, bored with it syndrome? But I gave it a go, Joe - and I'm still playing. Just why is it these types of games are just so damn playable?

Traz has a few new twists to the bat, bricks and ball formula and, most importantly, a construction kit which allows you to design your own scenes.


There's even a silly plot to go with the game. Traz is a computer-controlled prison made up of 64 screens or perhaps cells would be a better word. There 64 screens are arranged on an 8x8 grid and you escape by clearing the screens.

So far so good. The screens are really neat and complex with some new and original touches such as up to four bats to control. For example, two at the bottom of the screen and two at the top. Or at the bottom of the screen and along one side. There's even a screen where two bats are positioned almost above each other, with the lower one moving at a slightly different speed. That can be confusing. In addition there are the usual oddities which emerge to interfere with play and cause a bad deflection.

And then there are the question marks. These are the real wild cards in the pack.

For a start, it's impossible to know what they will do. And believe me they can do some weird things. One may give limited firepower to your bat, another may rob you of all control over the paddle, others make the ball disappear only to reemerge seconds later on another part of the screen. And the strangest of all is the one that makes the ball swerve, curve and move in the most unpredictable manner.

The two-player option is also good fun. It appears that you're playing as a team but, in fact, you soon find yourself trying to serve up some difficult shots. To add to the confusion, the control of the bat continually swap. So you've got to keep a close eye on the game.

You get a sound clue when control changes and the bats change colour. Confusing, eh? And there's no set time between changes. Control can change and the swap the next instance.

The construction set could be the main selling point of Traz, especially if you've bought any other versions of this style of game. I constructed some pretty strange screens. I thought they were brilliant designs and hugely playable. Others thought different. That's life.

The screens are all inventive, from tropical trees to adverts for Ace II and the nice part is that you don't start on the same screen each time. Variety prevents boredom.