Here's the first of a batch of new year Mastertronic budget games. In Finders Keepers the King of Isbisima is upset because he has nothing to give his daughter for her birthday. As a magic knight you have been ordered to find the Princess Germintrude a very special present. Should you succeed you may be invited to become a Knight of the Polygon Table.
To carry out your appointed task, the king transports you to Spriteland which is a welter of platform-type screens and two mazes teeming with electro-historic nasties that sap your energy and useful objects in the shape of small white triangles.
There are two possible objects in this game; either you may elect to collect as many valuable objects as you can and escape from the castle, or you may collect the treasure to please the king and princess and join the polygon table. Finders Keepers is an arcade adventure, and 'adventure' in quite a literal sense, because when you are next to a white triangle you can examine or get it. On getting, you are given an inventory of what you already carry, and when the limit of five objects is reached you have the choice of dropping something first. Some objects react to form other substances, sometimes more useful than the original two, sometimes less, so finding a philosopher's stone is good, because it will transform a lump of lead into a bar of gold. Scoring is in two sections; percentage of rooms explored and cash value of objects collected. Some objects are useful in as much as they can be traded with the ghostly traders who waft about, others have a function which will help you on your way.
The screen display is a square with a status panel on the right. The platform screens are all linked horizontally and vertically. Control is in four directions, up being used when on the move to jump. In the mazes, the knight remains centre screen, while the large maze scrolls across.
Control keys: user definable, eight required, four directional and keys for Get, Trade, Droplist and Examine
Joystick: Kempston, Fuller, Sinclair 2, AGF, Protek
Keyboard play: very responsive
Use of colour: excellent
Graphics: very good
Skill levels: 1
Screens: unknown, but many including continuous scrolling on mazes
'It's been a while since Mastertronic have brought out one of their cheapies. I must say that I was rather cautious while loading this game having seen some of their previous attempts at programming, but to my amazement, on playing this game I found that it would easily sell at £5.95. Yes, it is that good. Finders Keepers has a comprehensive joystick selection menu with some concise instructions, and there is also an option to define the keys. Graphics on this game are fast, smooth and very well animated. The plot is quite strong, making this a purposeful game and not just a collecting game, with your ultimate task to please the king and princess. I wonder why people are more often than not pushing cheapies that would quite easily sell at the full average retail price. It seems to me that they are losing out somewhere, but Mastertronic has always had an odd strategy to marketing, and it seems to work, and definitely will work with this game.'
'Most Mastertronic games have disappointed from the word go, although some have been quite playable, they have all lacked a lot in the graphics. Finders Keepers puts the record straight immediately with brightly coloured, imaginative and fully animated characters. The scrolling on mazes is particularly good. The idea is simple enough, but the fun comes from collecting objects - there are a lot, and of course you never know what each will be. Although each play reveals the same objects in the same place, picking up and dropping soon muddles them up and makes life more complicated. Generally, a game with pleasing and slick graphics, and enjoyable story line, and with a fair amount of addictivity.'
'One element of this game that I find most pleasing and satisfying is that two objects, if thoughtfully put together will have a chemical reaction and form a (usually) valuable new object. I really think this is a neat point to the game and does tend to get the player thinking and not just trying to collect as many objects as possible. Another aspect that's pleasing is the combination of platform and maze game, two totally different skills are needed for each. There is, I suppose, an adventure type skill also needed, which goes to say that this game is dedicated to 50% thinking and 50% playing, yet it is an arcade game. One thing that I couldn't get the hang of though, was trading. I just didn't seem able to trade any of my objects - oh well, there are more things to life than making money (or is there)? To sum up Finders Keepers it seems to be exceptional value for money, and a distinct improvement on any of Mastertronic's previous budget games. Is this the way the software industry is headed, competition not between good games and bad games, but competition between two good games but at different prices?'
Dave: Judging by the standards of the early cheapo games you would've been forgiven for thinking someone had misheard 'budget' for 'bodge-it'.
This game certainly changes all that. There's nothing particularly new about it - we've seen platform games before (Just a few! Ed) but there are a number of unusual differences.
For a start, not all the playing area is divided into rooms - there are some rather nice scrolling mazes tucked away in there.
Then there's an extra element to the game that really makes it. Some of the objects that you'll find combine to make a third, and you can then start bartering for other bits with the Castle traders.
The whole point of all this hunting and haggling is that you have been sent by the king to find a birthday present for his daughter.
The 'finders keepers' of the title just means that once you've nabbed the treasure, you can stash it away for yourself. It's a shame we're not informed of the king's reaction to this bit of private enterprise.
Fortunately, the plot ain't that important so you're not likely to lose your head. So, if you find it, keep it! 5/5 HIT
Roger: I'd rather have kept the king's daughter than her birthday prezzies but hopping about to cop the loot was worth it anyway. 4/5 HIT
Ross: A colourful, well presented game. Searching for treasure gives that bit extra to life above the competition - and at this price, it deserves to be a... 4/5 HIT
MACHINE: Spectrum/keyboard or joystick
"Ere, I thought you said Mastertronic games were a load of rubbish"
"Yes, I cannot tell a lie. It has been known for me to pass a judgement of that kind in the past"
"Well, what would you say to a game which has excellent graphics, loads of screens, beats the pants off a lot of the current hit games - and costs just £1.99?"
"I'd say the software company had a mega-hit on their hands, mate!"
"So Mastertronic games can't be all that bad then?"
"Yes, Finders Keepers is the latest budget release from Mastertronic. And I found it - so I'm keeping it!"
Finders Keepers features a neat video character called Magic Knight - who by, all rights, should star in a few more games. He's such a nice guy!
He has been sent by the king to find a gift for the princess who will soon be celebrating her birthday. Our mate Magic finds himself in the Castle of Spriteland which is packed with treasures - and energy-draining monsters.
The game features more than a touch of Adventure too - as you can trade items with ghostly traders who are more than willing to bargain with you.
You can also examine objects you find by hitting the appropriate key - some objects react with others in strange ways which you'll discover as you play.
There are mazes to be solved and puzzles puzzled over in this original combination of platform and Atic Atac.
There are two ways to play. You can either collect as much treasure as possible from the castle and escape with your booty - or you can return to the king and join the famous Knights of the Polygon table!
Mastertronic have a real hit on their hands with Finders Keepers. A number one? You bet!
MACHINE: Spectrum 48K
FROM: Mastertronic, £1.99
The dramatic improvement in Mastertronic titles continues with this sparkling arcade adventure.
Make your way through 25 screens of platform action, plus two large four-way scrolling mazes, in search of precious objects. Some are just lying around, others must be obtained by trading. And certain combinations of objects (which you have to work out) merge to produce more valuable ones (eg. philosopher's stone + bar of lead = bar of gold).
Can you earn enough money to buy the King's daughter the special birthday present she wants? Or will you simply try to make yourself a fortune and then escape from the castle? Either way the game requires a certain amount of thought as well as arcade skills, and should take some little while to solve.
Pretty graphics, worthy of a princess, including a very cute knight. Some of the platform screens seem a bit unplayable, and you're bound to lose energy by contacting nasties. But still an amazing title for the money.
Verdict: Mastertronic Magic
Value For Money: 9/10
GAME TYPE: Arcade
Finders Keepers is a charming program in which you play the part of the Magic Knight. You have two choices in the game. Either you can please the king by collecting all the treasure in the castle of Spriteland so that the king can give it to his daughter for her birthday and you can win a place on the Polygon table. On the other hand, you could just keep all the treasure and make your escape.
The castle is made up of an elaborate series of rooms, many of which are based on the time-honoured Jet Set Willy principle, with weird creatures which sap your energy crossing and recrossing them, a series of tunnels and ledges and even a teleport which sends you spinning to another section of the castle.
Other sections of the game take the form of mazes, which scroll continually as you move through them, producing an eye-straining effect for anyone playing the game on a television rather than on a monitor.
Only five objects can be carried at any one time. Others can be dropped (except the glue, of course), or sold to the trader. Some objects can be combined with others to produce new ones, although it takes some experimentation to find which objects will combine. For some reason, all objects which you find look like small heaps of salt.
Minor reservations apart, this game is good fun, and represents excellent value for money.
If you've never played a platform game, then this might be worth a try. Your quest is to travel round the castle of Spriteland, collecting up treasures which the King has carelessly left scattered around his castle.
There are the usual collection of baddies trying to kill you, a maze and a large number of screens. You can only carry five objects at a time, and you can then trade them for cash, or be a good fellow and return them to the king.
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