Split Personalities

by Ernieware Productions: Ruud Peske, Ernest Peske, Mark Strachan
Domark Ltd
Crash Issue 30, July 1986   (1986-06-26)   page(s) 18,19

Sliding block puzzles and jigsaws are as old as the Ark, but Domark and the Dutch software house Ernisoft have come up with a new, computerised variant. Although the name might suggest a tie-in with a certain TV program - don't be fooled, there's no wicked satire to be found in this game, and rubber puppets don't appear. All you have to do is work against a time limit and assemble caricatures of the famous from little blocks.

All you have to do? Well not quite. Starting with Ronald Reagan, ten cartoons of famous faces have to be pieced together if the game is to be played through to the end. At the start of each level the main playing area is empty - a zone enclosed with blue buffers. A pulsating square cursor is under your control and sits under a flashing arrow at the top left of the screen. The image that has been split appears in a small window in the status area on the right, the bar display that monitors the time you have remaining is refreshed, and play commences.

The cursor is used to shift the blocks around in the playing area. It can be moved in four directions, and once the cursor has been placed over a piece to be moved, pressing fire grabs the block. Holding fire and then moving the cursor whizzes the selected block off in the chosen direction. A moving block continues to travel in a straight line until another block or the blue buffer is hit, when it comes to rest. Pieces are brought on to the playing area by zipping the cursor under the flashing arrow, pressing fire to seize the hidden piece and moving right to fetch it into view. While the cursor is over a piece in the main play area, one of the squares on the little status panel picture turns white, revealing the correct location for that segment of the puzzle.

Twenty pieces have to be shuffled into the right order to make up each picture, and there are only four spare block positions at the top of the playzone - so some careful juggling is called for. Just to add a little variety to the game, cracks appear in some of the buffers. Blocks that are moved onto a cracked section of buffer bounce off, returning to their start point. Some of the cracks remain in the same part of the buffer throughout a level, while others hop around the place during play. Little sliding doors in the top, left and bottom buffers open and close. While a door is closed it acts as a normal section of buffer, but if a piece is shoved towards an open door it disappears from the playing area and joins the queue of pieces behind the flashing arrow.

Every so often, objects associated with the character whose likeness is being assembled are dragged into play. These objects can lead to bonus scores if you do the right thing with them - shoving the American Flag against the Russian flag for instance, earns a bonus of 1,500 points on the Ronnie Reagan screen. If one object is thrown against another object, they both dematerialise and if the right pairing has been achieved the bonus value flashes up at the point of collision before being added to the score.

Bombs are bad news - they explode five seconds after they are brought into play and have to be shoved against a tap (bonus of 5,000 points) or whisked out of an open doorway before they detonate. Failure to dispose of a bomb results in an explosion and the loss of a life. Other objects appear at random and can be combined: throwing a pistol against a bullet doubles your bonus score on that level, while matches and fuel should be kept well apart!

The number of points awarded for completing a level depends on the amount of time remaining when the final piece is slotted into place. Running out of time results in the loss of a life - but providing all three lives haven't been lost, the blocks stay in place when you die. An extra life is awarded for reaching 100,000 points and extra time can be won on later screens by sliding a diamond into another gem.

Control keys: O left, P right, Q up, A down, CAP SHIFT to SPACE fire, R and T abort, H pause, J continue
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Keyboard play: responsive, but a bit tricky
Use of colour: neat - no clashes
Graphics: fast moving; good caricatures
Sound: start and end tunes and spot effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: ten

'While this game has almost nothing in common with the TV series it isn't based on, I thought it was great. The caricatures of the characters are excellent, and the game moves at a very rapid pace, which adds to the fun. Things like the bombs and other bonus elements contribute towards this too, making it an extremely playable game. The graphics and sound effects are nicely executed, and the game is highly addictive, with that 'one more little go' element about it. I like it. It's nice to see Domark getting their act together after the awful Friday the 13th.'

'This is definitely the best Domark game ever! I know that's not saying much, but Splitting Images IS a really good game, and the most surprising bit about it is that the game is so simple in construction. The presentation is well above the normal Domark stuff and suits the game perfectly - simple but stunning. I found Splitting Images was totally compelling from the first time I picked up the joystick. The graphics are excellent with very smooth scrolling and some nice sound effects. Domark seem to have got the right balance of difficulty, with the 'Reagan' screen being easy to get past and 'Maggie' being a bit harder and each subsequent level presenting that bit more of a challenge. The game features lots of nice bonuses, which can improve your score tremendously and keep you addicted to the game for ages. I would recommend you buy this, as it's definitely something different from the normal game.'

'Well done Domark, you've finally broken your spell of releasing poor games. I am well impressed. This is a very original, playable and compelling game. The graphics are colourful, detailed and generally well 'finished'; the characters are all recognisable; the sound is nice too - there is a tune at the beginning and some very reasonable effects during the game itself. Playing the game can be a bit tricky until you get the hang of the control, but once you do, the action gets fast and furious. Disposing of the bombs is also tricky, and going for bonus scores means some extra thinking is called for. I enjoyed playing this one as it is fun and fast moving.'

Use of Computer: 85%
Graphics: 88%
Playability: 89%
Getting Started: 90%
Addictive Qualities: 0%
Value for Money: 87%
Overall: 90%

Summary: General Rating: A different, compelling and original game.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 08, August 1986   page(s) 28

Take a block sliding puzzle and combine it with a popular satirical television show title. Now add an extra letter and you get Splitting Images, the first TV tile-in!

This ingenious avoidance of royalties hardly filled me with confidence. Nor did the blurb, burbling on about arranging the squares. Could Domark seriously be marketing a game as old-fashioned as this?

But begin to play the program and you realise its virtues. Dutch company Ernieware seems to have specialised in this sort of program and has added enough neat variations to create something new.

Put away all ideas of plastic puzzles and sliding squares around to create a picture. Instead imagine an arena with a store at the top left hand corner from where the picture sections emerge when you press fire. Three sides of the frame contain doors which are constantly opening and closing, and you can slide unwanted tiles through them to go to the bottom of the pile and re-emerge later.

There are also cracks in the wall, most of which flash on and off but one is constant. When a block collides with a crack it bounces back so you have to be careful with timing.

As you start to shoot sections of the picture from the store you'll find that corresponding squares are illuminated in a miniature completed picture to your right. You'll also find that non-picture squares emerge. Often objects associated with the person you're creating appear and if you bring me right ones together you score extra points. Arrange a collision between the finger on the button and the mushroom cloud and you'll bring about a cataclysmic bonus!

While you're trying to avoid crashing the wrong objects together you'll also have to watch out for bombs. These are neutralised by taps or can be kicked out of play through the doors, but whichever course you choose you've got to be quick because if the fuse burns down they'll explode and you'll lose a life. The same goes if you run out of time.

For some reason I found all this totally addictive, even though there's a tendency for bombs to appear in rather quick succession. Eventually you'll discover the technique to complete Ronnie Reagan within the time limit and you'll skim through Thatcher. But don't get too confident because more cracks appear in the wails and the doors open at a different rate. By the time you reach Alan Sugar you'll be panicking. Apparently Prince Charles lurks in there which makes me wonder whether we should really split heirs.

Not the most glam game of the year, but certainly one of the oddest and most unique. If tests of mental agility and strategy set against a tough time limit suit you then give these spitting images 'l'.

Graphics: 8/10
Playability: 8/10
Value For Money: 7/10
Addictiveness: 9/10
Overall: 9/10

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair - Article Re-review Issue 57, September 1990   page(s) 64

A bit of an oldie this, but its still quite good all the same.

(A few plays later.) In tact, I'd almost go as far as to say that I quite like it. But what's it all about, eh?

Well, it's kind of like those slidey puzzle games (where you must slide those plastic square bits around to make up a normally-crap piccy of Lassie or some such equally attractive persona), but with a few subtle changes to add to the fun. Firstly, you can collect the pieces one at a time, keeping them or temporarily chucking them out through a gap in the wall. Once you've got one you can't just put them where you want either - just like in the similar puzzles of the plastic kind, you have to slide them completely to one side or the other - if you see what I mean. And things get more complicated as you progress (Clive Sinclair really is a bummer to get together for instance) with things such as bombs (which blow everything up), holes in the wall (where pieces can fall out), bonuses which you can throw together (for extra score and lives) and a variety of other things which I, erm, can't quite remember, cluttering everything up. Still, it's actually not too bad at all.

Fiendishness: 91%
Lack Of Sleep Factor: 89%
Pull Your Hair Out Factor: 18%
Variation: 89%
Overall: 93%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 52, July 1986   page(s) 40

Have you ever wanted to rearrange someone's face? Well, here's your chance.

For starters, you can put Reagan's mouth where it ought to be. As for the Iron lady, she's got metal fatigue and gone to pieces.

In Domark's Splitting images (nothing to do with the hit TV series). You've got to piece together parts of famous faces - like one of those sliding block puzzles. The idea sounded awful to us, but then, we wuz wrong. Its fast, addictive and very, very fast.

You start off with a blank screen and waiting behind the scenes are a number of picture squares which make up the portrait. Bring them on to the screen and arrange them in the right order before your time runs out. Sounds easy? Wait till you try it. Apart from being fast there are additional bogus and bonus squares. Some have to be got rid of instantly, like the bombs. Otherwise, someone's carefully constructed head is liable to go up with a bang. Brains all over the place YUK!

In fact the bombs can be doused with the water tap to earn bonus points. Likewise, match the pistol and bullet for a higher score. Don't light the fuel with the match though, or you'll get singed. Push the American flag into the Russian one for extra points. Other objects include a hammer, ice cream and diamonds. Some good, some bad, throw them into other objects and see what happens.

To get rid of the bogus squares, line them up with the sliding hatches in the wall, and chuck them out when the doors open. The squares will then rush round and join the end of the queue to reappear later.

The problems start when the screen is almost full, then it becomes almost impossible to shunt round the squares before the time runs out. Try to complete the bottom of the picture first and move upwards and try not to block off the sliding hatches. Watch out for the cracks in the wall, these act as springs and repel all squares if they are placed head on. Approach from the side and slide the squares into position.

There's a time limit on each screen and they can be fiendishly tight, especially with characters that come later on in the game. Ronnie and Maggie come first - which must be some sort of political statement.

For Ron you have to knock out the Russian flags with the American flags. Then for Maggie you hammer the Labour symbol with the Tory symbol. Dodgy stuff. For each character the objects change, though the bomb is constant throughout.

On hearing the title, Splitting images, I wondered what was in store for me when I loaded up. After the disappointments of Domark's Friday 13th and Friday 13th and View to a Kill I was fully prepared not to like it.

The game however, is very fast, very difficult and very playable.

Label: Domark
Author: Ernieware
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: Various
Reviewer: Clare Edgeley


Overall: 4/5

Summary: Let's not split hairs: this is pretty fast. Much better than expected, in fact. Domark back on form

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 58, August 1986   page(s) 30

MACHINE: Spectrum 48K
PRICE: £7.95

In my opinion, Split Personalities is absolutely topping! It's fast, furious, and extremely enjoyable.

The basic idea, as Domark says, is very simple. Remember the strange little hand-held puzzles which preceeded Rubik's cube? Yes? You know, where you had to slide tiny plastics blocks left, right, up and down in order to make up a fragmented picture. Well, this is the basis for the game. You pull the pieces of pictures from the left hand corner of the screen, and shuffle them around.

Movement is a bit tricky, because everything moves so fast, it's tough to get to grips with the cursor.

Split Personalities is great.

Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 6/10
Value: 8/10
Playability: 9/10

Award: C+VG Hit

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Computer Issue July 1986   page(s) 42

Arcade Adventure

This game belongs to that rare breed-of adventures which, at the outset, seem very simple to complete but in practice prove to be tricky. You have to form pictures of politicians, the Royals, pop stars and other famous personalities from the jumbled pieces of jigsaw appearing on the screen. A spinning cursor allows you to move off the screen to dip into a unseen store of pieces to place on the screen. Do not take too long, though, as the cursor will explode after a few minutes.

What makes the game really difficult are the items mixed with the jigsaw. They include diamonds, matches, pistols, bullets, dripping taps, flags and several other mystery items. You cannot finish the picture with those items on the screen, so to get rid of them you can either push them through holes which appear from time to time in the playing area or, better still, combine two to make a pair - e.g. pistols and bullets - and win bonus points.

Watch for the bombs which appear on the screen. Unless you get rid of them quickly they will explode and cause you to lose one of your lives. Once all the pieces are on the screen and all the unwanted items have been dealt with, all that remains is to move them into their correct positions to form the completed face before you run out o< time.

If you have seen the TV series, read the book and sung the song, you will probably enjoy the computer game as well.

Graphics: 4/5
Sound: 2/5
Playability: 3/5
Value For Money: 3/5
Overall Rating: 3/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ZX Computing Issue August 1986   page(s) 12


At last! A game from Domark that lives up to their publicity! Based loosely on the old picture puzzles where you slide blocks around, this program shows inventiveness and ingenuity, and by adding a time limit and other related factors they have created a fast, furious and fun game.

The basic task is to move pieces of a picture to their correct position on the main screen. This is done by positioning your cursor over it and 'pushing' it up, down, left or right until it is where you want it.

Other pieces of the puzzle which appear may have related pictures which, when paired correctly with another piece, will give you a bonus. For example a bullet goes with a gun.

There is an overall time limit so at first you tend to concentrate on getting the puzzle together correctly and ignore ignore the bonuses. As you improve these bonuses can boost your score greatly.

A further hazard is the bomb block which gives you five seconds to reject it or douse it with a dripping tap for more points. Pieces of the puzzle can be pushed off the board when sections of the side walls slide open.

The pictures are all of famous people, I got to see Reagan, Thatcher, Kinnock, Sir Clive, Alan Sugar and Price Charles before losing all three of my lives and after several attempts.

Considering this is not an animated arcade wonder, I found it very addictive, reactions have to be very fast and most importantly you have to think!

A marvellous combination of strategy, puzzle and reactions. The pictures are all recognisable and well drawn, control is sensitive and I found it easier using a joystick.

Overall: Not Rated

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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