Devising a game about maths formulas will go down as one of the great ideas of 1987. Rumour has it the same programmer is working on a multi-level French verb conjugations blaster. Next year could see a fast-scrolling Capital Cities of the World and Their Population game. Pi-R Squared doesn't need a joystick. Yes, it can be keyboard-only controlled.
Since maths formulae involve brainy people, we're supplied with a very brainy person in the shape of Professor Brian Storm. The prof is about to appear on the telly to lecture on something very brainy. Like most professors in Carry On films, he's absent-minded and he's managed to forget his maths formulae. So he must get inside his brain, locate the bits of formula and put them back together again.
As usual, the game is nothing like the story. What's actually served up is a succession of levels, each consisting of a series of cartwheels, some spinning clockwise and others anticlockwise. At the beginning of each level, a simple formula is flashed on the screen and then removed. The components of that formula are to be found at the centre of some of the wheels. You must remember the formula and pick up the bits in the correct order to go on to the next level and another formula.
To make things difficult for you, Stray Thoughts also circle the wheels and will brain you of IQ if you bump into them. To help you, various objects can be picked up. A book increases your IQ, a hammer lets you zap the Stray Thoughts, and so on.
The array of wheels is larger than the screen, so it scrolls in all four directions. This means you don't see where your formula components are located until you start moving around. You really have to plan a route that will get you to all the components and safely back to the start point.
At the bottom of the screen, you get a display of IQ left, lives left (you have only three) and how much of the formula you've picked up.I have a few gripes; this is one of those games that's fun for a few hours but then starts getting on your nerves. The reason is that there's nothing much to it. Complete one level and the next one looks pretty much the same, and so does the next one.
The only real change is the arrangements of spinning wheels and the formula itself. So there wasn't much brains used on the programming side and even less brains involved in playing.
Most maddening are the three lives. Use them up and you simply go back to the start. This means you play the first few levels over and over again just to reach one higher level which looks pretty much the same as the rest. The tune is also one of those that makes you reach for the meat cleaver.
There's nothing random about levels either, they always play exactly the same way. In any case, spending a few hours in front of loads of spinning circles is about as exciting as watching your undies go round and round in the launderette.