The simplest games are often the best and this new release from Poppy Soft is a perfect example.
You must help robot Zirky break out of a factory, since alien monsters have activated its self-destruct mechanism.
There are three screens, but five skill levels. Alpha is the easiest and you'll certainly need low-level practice before attempting Beta, let alone Epsilon.
The first screen shows Zirky in a white egg capsule in the centre of the screen. Surrounding Zirky are seven tunnels, along which deadly micron rays approach. A successful hit from a ray loses one of Zirky's three lives. You can rotate the capsule using the five and eight keys, and pressing zero fires Zirky's short range defence laser. The key combination is awkward and at Epsilon level steady nerves are called for. During the action a power column beneath the capsule grows up and finally Zirky hatches out into the very latest Zirkonium Mark 3 robot to be taken via conveyor belt to the second screen - the reject line.
Here Zirky moves right and left across a floor supported by yellow columns. Reject rays descend from the ceiling at different rates according to the skill level. A yellow bird flaps back and forth beneath the floor, rising a little on each pass. It may look like a grinning canary, but contact with it is lethal so it doesn't pay to hang about. The columns turn from yellow to white as Zirky crosses the floor, and at harder levels the conveyor belt plays strange tricks, so controlling Zirky's movement is extremely tricky. A successful traverse takes Zirky to the final screen.
This is the lift room and consists of a sort of maze with openings left and right. Each level has coloured blocks which change colour should Zirky fall through. Moving Zirky to the sides of the room carries him up, and it's possible to slide him sideways onto one of the levels on the way.
The aim here is to make all the doors change colour, then start again with another colour as in Qbert and variants. If you can get Zirky to one of the flashing force fields, the aliens turn white and are temporarily vulnerable, giving Zirky extra time to manoeuvre. Once the doors are removed, a bonus life is granted and Zirky returns to the reject room. At some point, Zirky may discover a key which allows him to escape the factory, but that still eludes me.
Very good value for money. The screens may be simple, but they're uncluttered, nicely drawn and the action is smooth.