Amstrad Computer User


Strangeloop
By Amsoft
Amstrad CPC464

 
Published in Amstrad Computer User #15

Strangeloop

Strangeloop is another "arcade adventure" in which puzzles have to be solved in real time while propelling your character around a large maze of scenery. It is not. however, just another clone of the original Sorcery. This time, the layout of the playing area is known from square one, In fact the term "square" is very appropriate, as the whole thing is made up of a grid locations, 16 rooms by 16 rooms.

This gives 256 different locations as opposed to the rather meagre 40-odd in Sorcery. The penalty for having so many rooms is felt in the lack of difference between each, The building blocks of each room are just as detailed, but are not so many and varied.

The whole game is set within the depths of an old and dilapidated factory, where you have to get round and solve various strategic problems in order to guarantee a happy retirement. Initially you start on foot and have very limited control when it comes to crossing baths of boiling liquid and the like, However, a couple of rooms beneath you, you will find a room containing your jet-ski suspended from the ceiling. Your first task is to free it before you can progress (anyone who fails to work out how to get it down might as well give up right now).

Strangeloop

Finding your way about is greatly aided by the amount of information in the bottom third of the screen. Not only is there an arrow which always points towards the central control room (your ultimate goal), but even more useful is a small 5 by 5 map of the surrounding rooms showing the connecting doorways etc. This greatly helps in planning a route from one location to another.

Colour coding of various rooms on this map helps to show rooms of particular significance (for example, the room with the jet-ski is pink).

You wouldn't expect the whole thing to be completely plain sailing, so to hinder your passage a large number of the rooms contain diagonally bouncing bits of coloured swarf. This can be shot, but is not eradicated unless every bit is hit_ The story says that you are wearing an oxygen suit and each time you bump into a bit of swarf, another puncture develops. This is OK as long as your stock of patches does not fall to zero, But, as soon as it does, your slowly dwindling oxygen is lost at a progressively more alarming rate. As the number of patches being carried falls, the stock can be replenished if an object looking like a first aid box is picked up. The same is also true for the bullets in your gun. As the number remaining drops, a new pack can be picked up. With both these type of objects, it is not a good idea to pick them up unless they are really needed, otherwise their use will not be so effective.

Strangeloop

Some rooms, contain much larger bouncing balls which are fatal on contact. There are various other types of large sprite all of which are best avoided.

As you travel about, you may find all sorts of strange objects; like everything else, these are picked up by passing over them. As each new one is picked up, a small descriptive character will appear in the section of the screen that shows what is in your pocket. Pushing the space bar allows a cursor to be moved around in this area, a one line description being given for each object. To take a simple example, a 5 credit coin can be picked up. If this is taken to the room containing the vending machine (which asks for 4 credits), then a one credit coin will be given as change (the exact motive for this has so far escaped me).

If you're one of those people who doesn't like to cheat when playing games then don't read the next paragraph.

Strangeloop

An added bonus of the save game mechanism and perhaps an un-programmed feature is the ability to get past objects and walls that couldn't be passed otherwise, If you get to a screen that has a dividing wall down the middle and you would really like to get across to the other side, pause the game, hit 'S' to save then just before it does, hit ESC once, You will now be given the opportunity to re-position your man on the current screen in just the same way as if you had just lost one of your five lives.

While I don't see people going ape over the graphics in the same way as they did for Sorcery, the actual gameplay is actually better and closer approaches the complexities of a text adventure.

However, if this game isn't as successful as Sorcery, then a lot of people will have missed out on a really excellent game.