Commodore User1st September 1988
Published in Commodore User #61
After wading through the small booklet that forms the instructions for Tanglewood, I finally managed to come up with a short version of a long-winded plot. Your uncle who claims to have the sole mining writes to the planet T'ngly-w-wd is being muscled in on by some big men who know about the valuable gems scattered about the planet. These nasty men have also stolen the documents that prove that your uncle has sole ownership. What you have to do is to find the documents and hand them back to their rightful owner.
It all sounds pretty easy, if it weren't for the fact that you can't actually go down to the planet. Something about the temperature or some such mutterings. So what you have are five different types of mining robots, called Mobiles through to 5, and it's with these that you have to carry out your duty.
The whole game is controlled through a cockpit/control panel and a large window on the world. Viewed from above, it's at this point you notice how crude, almost childish, all the graphics are. Though it looks like a 'true' overhead view, a quick examination show it to be nothing more than a series of icons laid next to one another. In fact, large though it is, the landscape is very bland, with just a dozen icons being repeated over and over again, to represent bushes, wastebins, buildings and paths. This would have just been acceptable on the C64, maybe, but on the Amiga?
The five mobiles are controlled by moving a pointer into the map area (if using a joystick) and clicking. Movement with the joystick is relatively easy. Just push the joystick in the required direction. Mouse control, however, is incredibly tetchy. When you click, you have to imagine that the pointer is in the centre of a four pointer star and move the mouse along the arms of it to move the mobile.
Unfortunately, the greatest distance from the centre has priority, which means that, if you move the pointer up the screen 100 pixels, and you then want to go right, you have to move the pointer more than 100 pixels to the right, which means that distances get greater and greater, making the game more than slightly unplayable.
Around the edges of the map are switches and dials. These show you the outside temperature (a waste of time, I thought, as it doesn't seem to affect you at all) and the amount of energy your mobile has. The switches are there to perform mundane functions like quit game, save game, sound off and the like.
Also there's an interesting switch that tells you where you are. The funny thing is that, no matter where I was, it always said 'On a path'.
After playing Tanglewood for a while, I began to feel that I was going round and round in circles. After playing a bit longer, I still found I was getting nowhere. Tanglewood is just another one of those games that can claim to have billions of different screens, but makes no claim that there's anything in any of them. If you want a game that in any way show you a little of what your Amiga is really capable of, then look elsewhere.