System 3/Bob Pape £9.99 cass, £14.99 disk

Indiana Jones certainly casts his influence on this game, and to good effect. Tusker lives up to the film series’ spirit much more effectively than US Gold’s recent Last Crusade, and offers a truly sprawling arcade adventure.

You are Tusker, whose explorer father has disappeared during an expedition in deepest Africa. Searching through his papers you discover the clue to his whereabouts. Maps of the fabled and as yet undiscovered Elephants’ Graveyard send you to the Dark Continent in search of your dad and the Graveyard.

The three load adventure starts off in the desert. You’re not welcomed by the nomadic tribesmen who are quick to use their scimitars. Surviving on fist power alone does not seem to be a good idea, so some solid exploration of the huge playing area is called for. And true enough, a variety of objects vital to the expedition can be found. Luckily, among these are weapons, machettes, daggers, stones and even a gun — if you can find the ammo. Using the gun obviously makes the natives very vicious, so beware. Eventually you come upon caves which lead you to a vast complex of underground caverns full of snakes, crocs and a huge praying mantis. But vital information lurks here too.

You soon find yourself in the jungle, and unsheathing that machette you picked up (you did, didn’t you?) you hack through the undergrowth. Warthogs, monkeys, bone-axe wielding natives and dinosaurs all gang together to hinder your quest. A land that time forgot and full of danger and puzzles to be solved awaits. A tribal village populated by bouncing skulls and a devious witch doctor holds more hair raising traps (acid spilling totem poles). But you must go on, the Elephants’ Graveyard awaits — and knowledge of your father’s fate.

Graphically the game is rather good, the character sprites are monochromatic, but the programmer has successfully put a lot of work into the backdrops, impressively adding atmosphere to the proceedings. Gameplay is absorbing, so if you enjoy exploration requiring a fair bit of brainpower, Tusker is highly recommended.

MARK — 88%

This is the type of game all Indiana Jones fans will love. The puzzles are devious, the resident bad guys all take their jobs of explorer-bashing very seriously, and the poor old player is left in the middle of it all wondering just what the heck is going on. The scenery is varied enough to stop you nodding off to sleep (there is nothing worse in a game than seeing the same couple of trees, buildings etc. all through the levels) and the brainteasing puzzles will have you jumping around in pleasing frustration.

NICK — 86%



A big exploration game which packs a bundle of clever traps and puzzles