CRASH Smash

Wanted: Monty Mole

Producer: Gremlin Graphics
Memory required: 48K
Retail price: £6.95
Language: machine code
Author: Peter Harrap


Screenshot

Monty, pursued by a picket, enters Arthur’s mine

The inlay says that this game has caused quite a stir with games experts, the national press and television. Television was naturally interested because the game contains a caricature of Arthur Scargill, the Miners’ Union leader. In fact a sequence was shown on TV News at the height of the strike. It’s been released simultaneously for the Spectrum and the Commodore 64, but reviewers in the CRASH office feel that, with all the Commodore’s better looking graphics, the Spectrum version is the better game of the two.

The story goes that it’s a long, chilling winter, and Monty Mole makes a daring bid to raid his local South Yorkshire pit to snatch coal. Battling through flying pickets, man-eating fish, coal crushers and drills, he escapes to emerge in Arthur’s Castle. Seizing his only chance of toppling the great man, Monty collects the secret ballot papers and vote casting scroll. But Arthur’s no fool when it comes to the heavy stuff and his personal bodyguards put up a struggle.

So much for the blurb — what about the game? Instant viewing will bring Manic Miner/Jet Set Willy to mind, and not without some justification, for Wanted: Monty Mole is a complex platform game with a jumping character and interlinked rooms to the maze. There are also a few guessing tricks involved and a strategic element to finding the route through a room or series of rooms. Monty himself is an endearing character likely to reappear in more games, who has an attractive walking gait and an athletic jump very reminiscent of his mining cousin from Surbiton.

Unlike Manic Miner, which ends on the surface, Monty starts on the top in a screen with a bridge over troubled waters, squirrels dropping acorns and a steaming bucket. The bucket looks tempting — it should be, for without it coal won’t even appear in the mine shafts to be collected. First timers, take heed — grab the bucket and run like hell! The mine shafts contain ropes, moving platforms and dice-with-death crushers as well as ghosts, monsters and deadly machines. There are also objects to be collected but only the coal lumps score points. The objects do, however, have their uses, and it will no doubt be the cause of much speculation and playing hints in issues to come, as to what does what. One thing is certain, some useful objects cannot be collected until a particular tool on the screen has been collected first. In all there are 21 rooms, or levels, to get through.

Screenshot

Deeper into the mine — it’s hard to know where to go

CRITICISM

COMMENTS

Control keys: Q/A up/down, O/P left/right, B to SPACE = jump
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair ZX 2
Keyboard play: very responsive, good positions
Use of colour: excellent
Graphics: very good, sensible scale
Sound: good
Skill levels: 1
Lives: 3
Screens: 21
General rating: highly addictive, excellent value.

Use of computer86%
Graphics94%
Playability95%
Getting started88%
Addictive qualities96%
Value for money90%
Overall92%

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