Hewson Consultants have generally steered clear of the more normal type of arcade game, so it comes as something of a surprise to see Technician Ted which is very much an arcade platform game. With their recent history, however, it is no surprise to see that Hewsons have waited until they got their hands on a real strong contender. This is the first ever program from the duo of Steve Marsden and Dave Cooke, who have set their game in the environment they know best, the silicon chip factory.
Technician Ted has to walk around a very large plant collecting chips, while avoiding the numerous hazards. It would be hard not to compare this new game with Manic Miner, which on the surface it resembles. Indeed, there are even sly references in some of the room names. But once into the game it soon becomes apparent that Technician Ted isn't quite so MMish as one might expect.
For a start off, the chips cannot all be reached, some rooms are impossible to get into, and others contain routes between hazards that look impossible - and are! But the secret lies in how you go about playing the game, and gradually all becomes clearer. There are several levels to the factory, and as in Pyjamarama a lift room allows access to other floors, although holes in the floors and ceilings also link between screens.
An unusual idea is that there are no lives as such but a long purple bar slowly recedes across the screen as you lose a life. As a result you may have between 30 odd and zero lives. Once down to zero the scene cuts to the exterior of the chip factory where Ted gets the boot, literally, from the boss. Scoring is by tasks completed and time, set against a real time clock.
Control keys: Q and O/W and P left/right, bottom row to jump
Joystick: doesn't need one
Keyboard play: simplicity itself, very responsive
Use of colour: excellent
Skill levels: difficult to start, gets progressively worse
Lives: as many as 32, but they go quickly enough
Screens: about 50
'It seems to be a reasonable length of time since a Manic Miner style game has been revamped. Technician Ted has many similar qualities to MM but has been expanded to a large extent with quite a bit more content having been added. Considerable thought must have gone into this program and is definitely not a copy in any sense of the previous success, Manic Miner. You, a lively two character-high sprite graphic, seem to be eager to explore the vast extent of thoughtful, tricky and insensitive maze of hazards (insensitive being, they don't give a damn)! There have been previous games such as this with many hazards, nice detailed graphics at a good pace, but none have gone quite into such a depth as this, the depth being that there is only one set way and only one correct way of completing the task. And if you're not going the right way about it, then the solution to the subtasks will not even become apparent. This game has some of the liveliest, detailed and imaginative graphics that I've seen to date. Each graphic obstacle has its own characteristics, which makes the game very interesting. Another thing about the game which is quite inspiring is the fact that when a task is done, certain and varied things happen over the maze - obstacles which you may have thought impossible to overcome become physically possible. An interesting and unique feature of this game. This is one game that I can quite easily and willingly state that it must be a game to add to your collection. Truly amazing, truly difficult, truly wonderful.'
'Technician Ted bears a strong resemblance to both Jet Set Willy and Manic Miner, but the major difference between this and other platform games is that this game needs a lot more thought to complete the screens. The graphics are well up to Hewson's usual standard, and certainly surpass those seen in JSW and MM. The sound in this game is pretty good too, playing a continuous tune throughout the game (and a different one in the attract mode). Technician Ted is fun to play, offering progressive difficulty in the screens, so every screen is a new challenge to be tackled and overcome. If you become a bit bored with ye olde platform type games this one is certainly worth getting because it offers a real challenge which seems to be lacking in many of today's platform games. Overall, as a platform game Technician Ted must go down as one of the best games available for the Spectrum and brings back life to the genre which of late have just been copies of Manic Miner. And it is a more original game of the type than any of its predecessors.'
'The excitement starts straight away with the highly unusual loader, which not only masks the border but also while it is loading there are ranks of Technician Teds marching up and down the screen at the same time. And that's not all, for the first time ever, a countdown clock to completion of loading. AND, going in the opposite direction of most others these days, the loading rate is slightly SLOWER than normal, thus hopefully ensuring a high rate of loading success. Once loaded, the music breaks out into its full glory (well as much glory as the Spectrum allows), and it is the best since Manic Miner, with two tunes played with a 'real' synthesised sound (and equipped with on/off facility if you go mad). The graphics are really wonderful, loads of detail, animation and humour, and the timing routines throughout are perfect, and perfectly hard to beat too. Technician Ted is a platform game, and there's nothing new in that, but the thought that has gone into this one makes it quite something else. Addictive, delightful to play and a definite must.'
Technician Ted is a hard working young computer hacker who earns his daily crust at the local, platforms-and- ladders Microprocessor factory. He clocks on at 8:30 and has until 5:00 pm to complete his 21 daily tasks. His first task is to go to his desk, then the Silicon Slice Store where he has to hit two flashing boxes in the correct sequence. When a task is completed another two boxes start flashing somewhere in the 50 screen factory.
Even with a map of the factory and the order of the tasks from Playing Tips (Issues 15 & 18), Ted is a difficult game. Your thirty or so lives are always in danger and some of the tasks - with strict time limits - are 'mega-tough'. Yet four years after its release the graphics remain crisp, colourful and amusing, the tune is good and playability high. Moreover Hewson have thoughtfully added some coding so that the +2/+3 joystick ports will work with the game. An attractive and compelling game this is an essential purchase for platform-and-ladders fans, and well worth a look even from people who normally hate the game-style.
Then: 96% Now: 87%
When you load this up, you realise with a certain element of shock how long it is since anyone released a platform game in the traditional Jet Set Willy mould. After all, shoot 'em ups haven't gone out of fashion, 3D isometrics are still with us, and there are still games coming out called Revenge Of The Ninja Aubergines, but nothing quite as platformy and pixel perfect as Technician Ted ever sees the light of day
It's very similar to Jet Set Willy, but far far slicker, with more to look at and more to do. Getting past each screen requires thought as well as arcade skill, and initially it's hard to get anywhere. For one thing, you soon learn not to jump down every hole you chance upon, and of course every femtosecond counts. I'd never recommend this to everyone - because, let's face it, lots of people detest this type of game with a vehemence bordering on violence - but if you caught onto JSW on its recent rerelease, then you'll lap this up too.
Roger: Well even Willy has had to leave the Jet Set, apparently, changing nomenclature and seeking humble employment, just like the rest of us.
The Job Centre has fixed him up with a technician's slot in this chip factory, but the broad and erratic selection of munchkin equipment doesn't give much of a clue about whether we're talking silicon or spuds - whichever it is we're still talking the same old game...
Being hamstrung with such a blatantly derivative and unoriginal nature isn't going to do a great deal for Technician Ted's popularity but, having said that, it is still a well-crafted slice of software.
The programmer's claims that: "graphics are ultra-smooth and collision detection is exact" are actually truer than the average sales blurb's pork pies and the result is an extremely difficult platform job that demands practice and concentration. It is, nevertheless, best described as a triumph of technique over new ideas. 3/5 HIT
Dave: Some day all games will have graphics that animate this smoothly. This makes it one of the best platform games I've ever seen. 4.5/5 HIT
Ross: Willy by any other name... yes, it's another Jet Set copy! I'd like to know who still buys them all. If it's you, then you could do worse than this. 3/5 HIT
Use of Computer: 93%
Getting Started: 92%
Addictive Qualities: 97%
Value for Money: 99%
Back in the days when Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy were riding high in the charts, everyone was bringing out platform games. This one had a few innovations which set it apart from the crowd. Technician Ted works in a microchip factory, and has to achieve a variety of tasks during one working day. The routes around the 50 screens that make up the factory are by no means as straightforward as those in Manic Miner. Plenty of hazards threaten to drain Ted's energy.
"The music is the best since Manic Miner, with two tunes played with a 'real' synthesised sound (and equipped with on/off facility if you go mad). The graphics are really wonderful: loads of detail, animation and humour and the timing routines throughout are perfect, and perfectly hard to beat too. There's nothing new in Technician Ted, but the thought that has gone into it is quite something else. Addictive, delightful to play and a definite must."
"Technician Ted had the best loading screen of the year, in fact it was the only thing that really stuck in my mind about it. Looking at it today I can't really see why it was a Smash. It wasn't original at the time; the graphics are bad and the game is pretty dull to play. It shouldn't really have had such high ratings. Ninety-six percent overall for a Jet Set Willy variant seems silly nowadays. I'd put all the ratings down into the mid to low sixties as there are still so many games around in a similar vein."
ON A LEVEL WITH TED
CHIPS, chips, everywhere and not a bite to eat. After all, who wants to eat the silicon variety?
Hewson Consultants obviously believe someone might like a byte and have launched Technician Ted. It is yet another platform game bearing startling similarities to Jet Set Willy.
You play the part of Ted in a silicon chip factory. It is a massive place and to get his meal of chips, Ted has to complete various tasks allowing him to pick up a glass, knife and fork and so on.
The graphics are highly coloured and scroll smoothly - transition from one screen to another is well oiled! Ted almost waltzes round the factory to the Blue Danube, a rousing number even when played on the Spectrum.
Technician Ted is guaranteed to keep avid arcade adventurers happy for a few days. However, if you prefer something with more zap, don't go anywhere near the silicon factory.
Joystick: Sinclair, Kempston
TED HAS BEEN given a much easier job than the one in the 48K version of this game, but there's much more work to be done.
The game is twice the size of the original, with 100 rooms in the factory and 30 tasks to perform. Unlike the original game, in which you had to guess which tasks to perform, each of the jobs is numbered.
That does not make their performance any easier, though. Some, like the one waiting in Ted's Den, are split into two and you have to find out which part should be performed first. Others are hidden behind objects, such as rampant C5s over which you must jump at the right time.
Some of the new screens have been created with current affairs - well almost - taken into account. There's the C5 production line which never breaks down but constantly runs over its hapless work force, and the Sinclair Research factory.
The cloth-capped hero also has to put up with the brothers on the picket line who have the help of an Arthur Scargill lookalike. Scargill's face pops up in nearly every screen blocking the way for Ted. He will have to jump over him and sometimes sneak under him.
The interactive graphics are slightly better than those in the original game. You do not lose a life unless you score a direct hit on an obstacle.
Hewson has put the cutest sound track and effects in the package and those can be played throughout the game. Effects and music are controlled separately on the main menu before the game begins and you can have one set on without the other.
The music at the beginning of the game, Tchaikovsky at his raunchiest, uses only two of the three 128 voices but, nonetheless, adds a carnival atmosphere to the game. The tunes may be slightly off key but I have a feeling that the notes were made to droop to make the game more amusing.
The Mega-Mix is not just another 128 revamped con job. The authors, Steve Marsden and David Cooke, have made the game more playable for beginners and a viable buy for those people who have the 48K version. It's not a total re-write but gameplay is different and the new locations make you forget that you are playing a game which has been around for over a year.
PRICE: £5.95 (Spec)
The race is on to create a true successor to the infamous Jet Set Willy! Technician Ted is a front runner - along with Brian Bloodaxe!
Ted is a young computer hacker who works at a Chip Factory. He has an awkward boss who has this annoying habit of setting him almost impossible jobs.
Still, Ted likes to get stuck into his work and is soon leaping around the Chip Factory in an effort to find just what he needs to complete the job - although he's not quite sure just what he does need!
Technician Ted is a workmanlike platform game with over 40 hi-res screens and lots of puzzles.
The graphics are well drawn - although some of the features come just a bit too close to Jet Set Willy for comfort, I feel.
Animation is smooth and flicker free and colour clashing - on the Spectrum version - is kept to a minimum.
There are lots of strange nasties to deal with - like savage filing cabinets and furious fire extinguishers - all the oddness you've come to expect from these platform games!
If you've been holding your breath waiting for JSW II and can't hold out any longer, take a look at Technician Ted. It will keep platform freaks - and map makers - busy for weeks.
GAME TYPE: Arcade
Somewhere, although exactly where is hard to define, there lies a difference between a game which is enjoyably difficult, and a game which is absurdly difficult. Technician Ted falls quite solidly into the latter of these two categories.
There you are, an unexciting animated character, saddled with a load of unexplained jobs, trapped amongst a series of hostile graphics, each of which appears to be drawn to a completely different scale. The first sign of a problem is when, faced with a lethal, rampaging penny farthing on the first screen, your first thought is not: "Oh, yes, good, I am looking forward to finding out what to do and how to do it" but you instead find yourself thinking how exciting it would be to switch the computer off and go to do something completely different.
Ted has to complete his 27 daily tasks by 5.30pm Spectrum time, but his boss has failed to tell him what the tasks are, or where they can be located. Trying to reach your desk in order to find a clue is a major problem in itself, as all the screens look like ineffectual parodies of Jet Set Willy. Almost everything you touch is lethal, almost every jump you attempt is either too long or to high for your limited capabilities.
Totally uninspiring, Technician Ted is written for the 48K Spectrum by Hewson Consultants, 60a St Mary's Street, Wallingford, Oxon.
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