About a year and a half ago a Self Willed Extreme Environment Organism (SWEEVO to his friends) was sent to a mysterious world, Knutz Folly. Once there Sweevo had to do a spot of tidying up and capture several cute Widgers. Now, after much effort and bumbling, Sweevo has returned with a vengeance and, well, a whimper or two.
The kindly old Robo-Master gnashed his metallic teeth and roaring at Sweevo said, 'I didn't expect you back so soon... so, go and clean out the Deathbowl and don't return until you've finished doing that.'
Sweevo, being the wary soul that he is, picked up his copy of Galactic Aquarist (essential reading for all inter galactic cleaners of deadly bowls) and read:
The gigantic aquarium known as the Deathbowl is now so heavily polluted that the only remedy is to completely drain it by pulling out each of the four plugs.
So there you have it, Sweevo with diving gear in tow has been abandoned on another strange world with only his wits (or lack of them) to protect him from the plethora of weird and wonderful creatures, none of whom are too fond of alien life forms draining away their habitat. Each of the plugs must be pulled in the correct order else an inaccessible level is created. And to pull a plug several puzzles must be solved by moving specific objects to particular places.
Unfortunately these objects are often guarded by Deathbowl's denizens, or they may even be a part of a particularly despicable nasty. Luckily, though, there are weapons to be found in abundance for the destruction of these creatures but watch the ammo level, it's very limited.
Deathbowl is constructed on several interlinking levels in a similar manner to Sweevo's World. Whirlpools are used to travel downwards to the next level and bubbles for upward movement. The game itself is presented in 3D isometric views, using two, but varying, colours for the caverns.
Sweevo has several lives, one being lost each time his Rustometer reaches maximum. Such occurs rapidly as soon as Sweevo makes contact with water (silly fool forgot his wet suit), but if it starts to get dangerously high, rusting can be temporarily halted by finding the oil cans that pollute Deathbowl. Touching guardians is none too healthy either, so once armed - shoot to kill!
The game is spread out over more than 200 caverns, and the 128K version boasts an even bigger map as well as a Rob Hubbard score, a cartographer's delight no less. Hydrofool is some mean beast to beat, the programmers estimate a game time of about four hours for experienced cleaners.
Control keys: Q W E R T Y U I O P up left/up right, A S D F G H J K L down left/down right, Space to fire
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2, Cursor
Use of colour: monochromatic playing area
Graphics: superb definition and animation
Sound: good tune and spot FX, better still on 128
Skill levels: one
Screens: over 200
'Sweevo's World was a very original game that had a quality very hard to define, and one that hasn't quite been reproduced since. Bearing this in mind I was annoyed to hear that FTL were doing a follow up. Hydrofool has turned out to be a Sweevo's clone (the similarities are too numerous to mention) that's playable and compelling, but not the step forward that its 'parent' was. The puzzles take a while to solve but aren't frighteningly hard once you've learnt the basic layout of the playing area. The graphics leave little to be desired, some character definition is excellent, and the sub-aqua effect works convincingly well. Sound, too, is more than adequate (except for the re-run of the Sweevo's World title tune), but the 128K tune and effects are far superior. This should provide plenty of puzzle solving and mapping fun for all. Recommended.'
'Essentially Hydrofool's concept is a rehash of the old Sweevo's game, new names and different baddies perhaps, but very similar - even the same Sweevo's tune. However, there are some completely new graphics. The main characters are superbly animated and drawn with a great amount of detail. I found Hydrofool much harder to play than its predecessor, although the problems are fairly logically set out. The backgrounds create a good feeling of depth with the creatures adding to the strong atmosphere. If you've seen Sweevo's then don't expect much different - still a great game though.'
'Some game formats can stand cloning by their creators, and what made Sweevo's World was the content more than the look - which is saying a lot because it looked great. So Hydrofool survives less for its originality than because it's still a highly enjoyable romp, packed with loads of puzzles, a need for dexterity and plenty of atmosphere - the first time you see a sea serpent pop up from the floor ranks as quite a shock. The feel of the game relies heavily on the high quality graphics - Sweevo really does seem to be swimming under water. With the large number of screens, and the intricately woven Greg Follis puzzles, Hydrofool should hold its appeal for quite some time.'
The follow-up to the tremendously popular Sweevo's World arrived in June 1987.
After doing a spot of tidying up in his previous adventure, Sweevo has now been given the task of draining the polluted Deathbowl, a sort of giant aquarium. Clad in his diving gear, Sweevo must search the many 3-D isometric screens which make up the Deathbowl for the four plugs to pull out.
Unfortunately a variety of fairly dangerous creatures (including fish and sea serpents) which regard the Deathbowl as home don't want Sweevo to drain away the water. Yet more difficulty is created by the existence of puzzles, which must be solved by moving objects to certain places in order to remove a plug.
Although the gameplay is very similar to that in the prequel, Hydrofool provides a welcome second helping of whacky action and perplexing Greg Follis puzzles. This is complemented by beautifully defined graphics and atmospheric sound to make a high quality arcade adventure.
You may have guessed by now that I'm a bit of a sucker for these 3D Ultimate-style arcade adventures, so you can hardly expect me to be anything other than pathetically excited about this latest entrant from FTL. Hydrofool, of course, is the sequel to Sweevo's World, and like its predecessor it's seriously weird. Poor old Sweevo - all that battling around the abandoned world of Knutz Folly, and just as he gets back home and settles down with a bacon sarnie and a video of Moonlighting, the Robo-Master sends him off to clean out the Deathbowl. Doesn't exactly sound a barrel of chortles, does it? But then Sweevo's hardly Brain The Size Of A Planet material - a pebble would be more more accurate - and it's that or the dole on Monday morning.
Off he goes to this gigantic planetary aquarium and sure enough, Sweevo finds all manner of aquatic nasties swimming around. Deathbowl is so polluted that the only way to scrub it out is to empty the whole place of water - which means pulling out four large plugs. You can do this (once you've found them in the labyrinth) by dropping nearby certain objects, which may just be lying around (and usually guarded) or could be part of something alive - which therefore needs killing! It's tough down there on Deathbowl - eat or be eaten.
Like Sweevo, there are loads of different levels (six, to be sure) and four choices of starting screen. You can rise levels by jumping on a passing bubble, and descend by glooping down a whirlpool. The bubbles are especially well animated with a process called Hydromation - very Gerry Anderson - which, well, animates bubbles. Sweevo picks up oilcans to stop him rusting, and as in his first adventure, falls over and looks sorry for himself when hit rather than dying.
All great fun. The graphics and sprites are all wonderfully clear and well thought out, and as usual with Gargoyle/FTL, the design's immaculate. If it's not a megagame, it's only because in gameplay terms it's just a little too similar to Sweevo. But I love it, and if you went a bundle over the original, I'm sure you will too.
Another Gargoyle re-release and the sequel to everybody's fave Knightlore clone Sweevo's World. As always with Greg and Roy, the idea was bizarre: an undersea world full of fish, clams, bubbles and Sweevo in an aqualung. It was one of those games that was never quite as gripping as it first looked. Full marks for graphics, playability and value for money, but addictiveness was somehow lacking.
It's good to see it again, though, and at £1.99 it does seem something of a steal. Nowadays of course, all cheapie 3D isometrics are ripped off from Head Over Heels, but Hydrofool is a return to more original days. Glub glub glub...
Sweevo's World was one of the great underrated peculiar games of our time. Now we have Hydrofool which is funnier, cleverer and, if there is any justification in the world, destined to be not underrated but instead lurch to number one with a bullet.
There are not many 3D games set underwater, this is the first point in Hydrofool's favour. The graphics are marvellous, this is another. And it's funny, this is a third, the music on the 128K version is by Rob Hubbard - yet another and - well that's enough to be getting on with.
Faster Than Light has effectively dispensed with plot on this, one, the scoring system is beyond human calculation - all you need to know is that you are trapped inside a giant goldfish bowl looking for the various objects which will enable you to pull out the four plugs that will drain all of the water out of the bowl. On your way you do battle with assorted denizens of the deep including an extremely cute baby whale and some extremely aggressive seahorses. Other elements include garden gnomes, these can be collected to advantage and spoons. The spoons appear to be a means of attack but whenever I chuck them at the fish they seem to be singularly unimpressed.
The central hero of Hydrofool is, again, Sweevo although clad in a diving suit he looks very much how I always imagined Gollum from Lord of the Rings looked. Bumping fish and generally the time spent in the water causes rust. This is measured by a rustometer at the bottom of the screen. Rust can be resisted collecting cans of Oil. This is logical in a way - as logical as anything else in this game.
Movement between screens is up via a passing bubble or down via a whirlpool. In the best traditions of 3D games some rooms are seemingly impassible others contain hidden secrets or are themselves hidden. The bubbles are not merely lifts - as you enter a room you gradually sink to the floor. Sometimes to get past obstacles you'll need to leap on to a lesser bubble - these only travel up half the screen or so before bursting but hitching a ride gives you enough height to over passing stalegmites and rocks.
The graphics are superb - particularly if you like fish - large, smoothly animated, and detailed. Unlike most 3D games, rooms in Hydrofool do not reset when you go in and out - no chance to correct mistakes - worse still, sometimes the gigantic fish you managed to avoid in the previous screen follows you through a conveniently placed porthole and comes after you.
There are various problems to be solved - some exits remain closed awaiting some special action (but what?), there are various weapons scattered around but few of them seem to be up to serious death-ray quality. Sometimes useful objects are effectively guarded by a monster fish - you need to skewer it somehow.
The music on 48K is passable blips (and nasty fairground music at the beginning) and the 128K stuff by Rob Hubbard is excellent although more jovial and less funky than some of his previous work. The game is an absolute winner.
Label: Faster Than Light
Reviewer: Graham Taylor
SUPPLIER: FTL/Gargoyle Games
PRICE: £7.95 (Spectrum), £8.95 (Amstrad), £13.95 (Amstrad disc)
VERSION TESTED: Spectrum/Amstrad
Brilliant! That's the only word to describe Hydrofool - the continuing adventures of Sweevo.
There I was, bored of playing games. Yes, I have to admit it. You know how it is. You've had a day where nothing has gone right - your mum has found your favourite dodgy mag under the bed, Enduro Racer holds no more challenges and you keep getting wiped out on the first stage of Nemesis.
Then, sneakily, along comes a game that takes you by surprise and keeps you up until the early hours, restoring your faith in the great games programmer in the sky.
Hydro fool is one of these games. It's fun, terminally addictive and packed full of puzzles and jokes. If you thought Sweevo's World was the bees knees then you're going to go completely O.T.T over Hydro fool. The plot? Do you really want one? OK, here it is.
Sweevo, fresh from his success on his "world", returns to the Robo-Master only to be given another great job cleaning out the Deathbowl.
Now, the Deathbowl is a giant planet-sized aquarium which has become so polluted and packed with mutant creatures that the only thing to do with it is pull the plug. Or rather plugs.
Sweevo, armed with a deep sea diving suit, has to find the objects that will release the four plugs and empty the planet by placing them on pedestals in the "plug rooms".
The objects are scattered around 200 rooms over six levels. Some are guarded some aren't. But you'll have to work out just what to do with what. And it's fun finding out!
Sweevo can fight off the aquatic enemies using weapons he finds in the many cavernous rooms. I've worked out a few - harpoons get rid of baby whales (what about Greenpeace?!), spoons kill off jellyfish, while horseshoes wipe out, what else, Seahorses.
Other objects help - a bone lures nasty shoals of Sweevo nibbling fish away while he collects a gnome. Why a gnome? Who knows - a further exploration of the game should explain.
You'll have to learn how to use air bubbles to take you from level to level, or simply help Sweevo overcome other obstacles.
Ride the bubbles to find out how high they'll take you. You'll soon discover where they take you. You'll also have to ride bubbles to reach certain objects tucked away in seemingly unreachable ledges in some of the rooms.
Whirlpools transport Sweevo to lower levels. Some of them are sneakily placed just inside doors - so you end up being sucked down even if you don't want to go!
Sweevo can collect anti-rust oil to keep his suit going in the polluted waters. It rusts as soon as you enter the water. Run out of oil and it's back to the surface again.
Clues and jokes appear in message windows at the bottom left hand side of the screen - which is similar in layout to Sweevo's Worid.
You can start the game from any one of four different locations - but can anyone tell me why they are all named after Elvis Presley songs? Return to Sender, Jail House Rock, O Sole O Mio and Heartbreak Hotel - is this another subtle Greg Follis plan? Answers on a postcard please!
The excellent music , even on a Spectrum - comes from none other than Rob Hubbard - and is more than just a collection of beeps and burps. Graphics are - as you'd expect from Gargoyle - pretty neat. I particularly like the baby whale.
Overall, Hydrofool is the most fun you'll have with your Spectrum this summer - probably this year. The best game on the Amstrad since Batman. If you thought the arcade adventure was dead, think again a think about raiding your piggy bank to collect the cash for your very own copy of Hydro fool. Don't miss this one.
Stop press! Just discovered that harpoons kill of the 'orrible Wolf Fish and that the Amstrad version is just as addictive as the Spectrum game. And as an extra added tip look "inside" the pedestals in the plug room for a clue to the objects you need.
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