Pi-R Squared

by Dave Healey, Gary Ireland, Jas C. Brooke, Jeremy Nelson, Lee Cawley, Lyndon Brooke, Paul Ranson, Steinar Lund
Mind Games
Crash Issue 45, Oct 1987   page(s) 124,125

Producer: Mind Games
Retail Price: £7.95
Author: Binary Design

You know what it's like - faced with a tense situation, your mind goes blank, you can't think of anything, and you feel like the thickest person. Oh sorry, you're like that all the time? Well, Professor Storm isn't, but he's desperate to collect all his intellectual thoughts and put them firmly under control.

And to do that he must travel through his own mind, which is made up of interlocking cogs; Storm can travel either clockwise or anticlockwise on their rims. Travelling with a cog's motion increases the prof's speed, while movement against it slows him. If Storm just stops walking, he moves at the same speed as the rim.

All this rotating is to help our egg-headed hero reconstruct the scientific formulae he once knew; when he completes one revolution on a wheel rim Storm picks up part of a formula, but only by collecting all the parts in the correct order can he move to the next level and the next piece of disassembled knowledge. (The required formula is displayed at the beginning of each level.)

Storm's otherwise routine task is hindered by stray, distracting thoughts. Some journey predictably on the cogwheel's rims, but others switch randomly from rim to rim, or even home in on the poor befuddled man. If these touch the dear professor they can reduce him to a moron - so keep a check on Storm's IQ. If it falls to zero, he loses one of his five scholarly lives.

Some wheels have fond memories or abstract thoughts at the centre, and they can temporarily paralyse him Storm or take down his intelligence.

But to help him in his rotating task the professor can collect other objects from the centres of the cogs: a book raises his flagging IQ, a calculator speeds up his movement on a rim, a hammer lets him swat a stray thought, and if the prof finds a trash can he can dump in parts of a formula in the incorrect order.


Joysticks: none
Graphics: simple but effective
Sound: tune and spot FX
Options: definable keys

After a few games I started to enjoy swinging from cog to cog and saving the poor old professor from a very embarrassing situation. Graphically Pi-R Squared is nothing startling, but it's competent and quite playable.
MARK [53%]

This latest Mind Games extravaganza certainty taxes the old grey matter as well as requiring some lightning reflexes. Pi-R Squared has all the appeal of Think!. The concept is amazingly simple and straightforward, but each level is ridden with a fiendishly constructed array of wheels. And there are some vicious stray thoughts, making planning essential. It might be a bit expensive - but there are mounds of addictivity in Pi-R Squared, and it's definitely worth fiddling with.
PAUL [77%]

If you're trying to forget all that maths homework you haven't done, avoid this one! The central character looks like a cross between Bobby Bearing and a baked bean and the scrolling is terrible. The idea is simple, and so are the graphics - but their presentation and the different formulae to work on make it highly addictive. Pi-R Squared is a brilliant little game.
NICK [69%]

Presentation: 63%
Graphics: 56%
Playability: 66%
Addictive Qualities: 68%
Overall: 70%

Summary: General Rating: An enjoyable and fast-moving puzzle game.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 23, Nov 1987   page(s) 62

Mind Games

The idea of being able to enter your own head and literally collect your thoughts appeals to someone like me who spends his entire life drifting from one day-dream to another!

Our hero, Professor Storm, can't afford to day-dream - his big day is at hand. He's facing his important television debut, a lecture on geometric solids for the Open Polytechnic. The studio is hushed, the credits begin to roll and... panic!! His mind is a total blank. Only one thing for it - he has to get inside his own head and sort those stray thoughts out.

This isn't as easy as you might think. The Prof's brain is full of distractions: thoughts about ice cream, molecules, and other thingies get in the way, often reducing his IQ (life) level. While he collects the scattered formulae (in the correct order) all these distractions have to be avoided by skillful movement around the cogs and gears of his complicated brain.

Well that's the scenario. The game itself is another 'collect and dodge' multi-level arcade adventure, just substitute the platforms and ladders for wheels and cogs. The program is enjoyable and addictive. I often felt myself wanting just another go - the sign of a great bit of software.

The presentation is original I don't think I've seen the idea of spinning 'cogs' before, and the way the screen is drawn and characters animated (all beautifully done) all lend it a fair bit of style.

All in all, I found this game to be simple to play but hard to put down, the best Mind Games offering for quite a while. If you fancy tidying your brain, get Pie R Squared and you're on your way. One niggle though, it's a mite overpriced at £7.95. £4.99 would have been nearer the mark chaps!

Graphics: 9/10
Playability: 6/10
Value For Money: 8/10
Addictiveness: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

Summary: An original 'collect and dodge' arcade mind stretcher. The best thing Mind Games has released for years. Bit pricey though.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 42, Jun 1989   page(s) 43


They're certainly cheap, but are they cheerful? Marcus Berkmann rootles around in the YS Lucky Dip...

Reviewer: Marcus Berkmann

An odd game, this, which never really found its niche on initial release - too strange for the general market, probably. Your task it to search through the inner workings of the mind - represented here by a series of touching wheels - to extract certain mathematical formulae - like πr2, for instance. If this sounds hopelessly dull or cerebral (good word, eh?), well it ain't. Symbols are to be found in the centre of the wheels, and you travel around the edges trying to pick up the ones you want in the order that you want them (you grab 'em by doing complete circuits of the wheels in question). There are hazards, including old little nasties that whiffle swiftly around some wheels' perimeters, and the whole is somehow quite addictive, in an odd, offbeat sort of way. But then the game's really only another collect-and-dodge multi-level arcade adventure in sheep's clothing - just substitute wheels and cogs for platforms and ladders. At eight quid, though, it did seem overpriced - but at two, perhaps it has found its niche at last? A neat little brainteaser.

Overall: 7/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 67, Oct 1987   page(s) 27

Label: Mind Games
Author: Gary Ireland
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: none
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

Let's face it, Pi-R Squared from Mind Games doesn't start off too well, what with being called after an exceedingly boring mathematical equation and all.

The plot doesn't make it sound much better either. Apparently you've got to chase through your mind assembling equations you need to give a lecture, avoiding distracting thoughts and keeping up your IQ. Worse! There's books to collect. And calculators too!!

All of which is a tad off-putting, and that's a shame. Because, lurking somewhere under this unpromising exterior is actually quite a playable little game.

Your mind - which forms the playing area - is portrayed as a series of interlocking cog wheels whirling in space (not unconvincing, you may think). Each wheel spins at a different speed and your on-screen persona, represented by a smiley face, moves around the rims of the wheels, using three control keys to move either clockwise or anticlockwise or to jump from wheel to wheel where the rims touch. (By the way, don't bother trying to use a joystick - the game crashes if you have a Kempston interface connected.)

One each level you are shown the equation which you have to assemble by collecting the pieces in order. Moving all the way around a wheel automatically collects the piece it contains.

To make it more difficult there are stray thought-bubbles, out to drain your IQ, some moving in set patterns, some randomly, and some homing in on you.

Collecting books and calculators increases your speed and IQ, while hammers allow you to stomp stray thoughts. Fond memories such as ice-cream cones, and abstract ones represented by molecules, cause your IQ to drop - reach zero and you become either a moron (or an Eastenders fan).

It's the gameplay - mainly the way you move - which makes the game so neat.

Slick animation and screen-flipping, great music and an original and maddeningly addictive scenario make Pi-R Squared a surprise hit.

I was all set to hate it from the description on the insert, but I had second thoughts...

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Overall: 7/10

Summary: Surprisingly enjoyable challenge to both the reflexes, and the braincells. Based on a neat game idea.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 86, May 1989   page(s) 56

Label: Bugbyte
Author: In-house
Price: £1.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

OK, first things first, it's called "Pi-R-Squared". not "Mister Two". Secondly, it's not a conventional arcade adventure, but a unique and maddeningly addictive challenge of skill and forward planning.

Well received on its full-price release, Pi-R-Squared (the name's based on an equation for calculating the area of a circle, in case you didn't know) takes place in a strange universe of spinning cogged wheels. You control a robotic sphere which travels around the spinning wheels, changing direction and jumping from one wheel to another in search of sections of geometric formulae.

Stray thoughts interfere with your progress, draining your IQ, which can be restored by freeing books from the centre of wheels. There's also a calculator which improves your speed, and other bonuses and hazards.

Graphically smooth, cleverly designed and very unusual, Pi-R-Squared is worth a look if you're bored with the run-of-the-mill shoot-'em-ups.

Overall: 74%

Summary: Strange but fairly enjoyable test of skill and strategy.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

The Games Machine Issue 1, Oct 1987   page(s) 71

Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £7.95
Commodore 64/128 Cassette: £8.95, Diskette: £12.95


Mancunian programming team Binary Design have been a relatively silent but deadly force behind dozens of releases, including Max Headroom and Glider Rider for Argus Press Software. They've achieved a slightly higher profile in the world of budget games with 180, Zub and Amaurote, amongst others, on Mastertronic's MAD label,

Pi-R-Squared is more involved than previous Binary Design concepts and requires geometric formulae to be completed. This isn't as tedious as it might sound though: it's not educational software and you don't actually have to calculate anything. No, instead the formulae are split into three parts which have been 'forgotten', and lost within a mechanical representation of the workings of the mind.

A formula is briefly shown on screen before play begins, just to show the order in which its components should be assembled. Controlling a small bubble, you enter the levels of the mind, represented by a series of interlinked spinning wheels, some of which contain thoughts at their hub. The guest involves piloting a bubble through the mechanical mind-world in search of the the sections of a forgotten formula.


A window shows a small segment of the mind you're exploring and contains a few rotating wheels that touch one another. Movement is achieved rapidly by travelling with the wheels, or more slowly if you choose to move against the rotation. Where the wheels touch, you can leap between them - but it's advisable to consider such moves carefully as the window doesn't reveal what lies ahead in the next section of the mind.

Three types of Stray Thought bubble roam through the network, draining energy whenever they come into contact with your questing bubble - some simply follow the rotation of a wheel, others roam aimlessly from wheel to wheel and some home in on your presence.


Memory Bubbles are found in the hub of some wheels, and may contain Fond or Abstract Memories which are released as soon as the surrounding wheel is touched. Releasing such memories has an adverse effect on your bubble, either stunning it or reducing energy reserves slightly. Useful objects are also found in Memory Bubbles and include parts of the formula, a calculator to increase speed, a book to boost energy, or a hammer used to stun energy-draining Stray Thoughts. Bubbles that contain objects rather than thoughts can only be burst if you stay on the wheel for a whole revolution.

Collecting the three parts of the formula in the right order allows you to exit to the next, more difficult level. The formulae don't get any more complex, but the wheel arrangements get larger and Stray Thoughts make more frequent appearances.

A fairly simple concept lies behind Pi-R-Squared, but its very addictive to play. At times you have to concentrate so hard your head hurts... and if you don't concentrate on what you're doing, it's very easy to become disorientated and end up dead.

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Overall: 85%

Summary: The best of the two versions, featuring simplistic but clear and effective graphics, unsuitable but passable jingles and plenty of playability. It provides a welcome change from dealing death or leaping from platform to platform collecting objects, and the action is compulsive and more often than not frenetic.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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