Wriggler is a maze game, or it could be an arcade game - well it might even qualify as an adventure of sorts. The simple truth is that Wriggler is all of these, and in some respects resembles Antics, the insectoidal game by Bug-Byte. The opening screen shows four maggots at the start of a race, and you are one of them - you know it's a race because of the ant with the starting pistol, but you are not racing against the other maggots as they disappear soon after the race starts to become your extra lives.
The game seems simple enough to play, all that's required is for you to guide your maggot down pathways until you find your way out of the maze and into the next, and the next, and the next.... In fact there are four main mazes, the first one being the Garden, followed by the Scrublands, the Underground (or Hell if life is rotten to you as well), and finally the Mansion with the lift shaft that should take you to the planet surface. There are a few other areas but if you find yourself in any of these then you goofed and life can only get worse.
If this all sounds pretty straightforward, the fine print begins to make being a maggot sound less attractive. The first problem you will have to cope with is your diet; as maggot winds his way around the maze he uses up energy. This can be replenished by consuming many of the snacks le around. The menu includes such gourmet delights as milk shakes, bowls of cherries and cups of tea; should you be fairly well stocked with energy (a fact which is indicated by a bar code at the top of the screen) you can always pick up a snack and eat it later.
As well as food there are a few other objects that you will need in order to penetrate the mazes and these include tins of ant spray, keys, extra lives and a parachute. All these are essential for dealing with one situation or another, but you are only allowed to carry one object at a time, so you can imagine your despair as you fall the 1000 feet to the Underworld when you remember that you swapped your parachute for a bag of money.
Finding you way out of the mazes is one thing, getting past all the nasties in there is another. Your first encounter will be with the black or blue ants - fairly timid creatures these, if you stay out of their way they won't harm you, collide with them and you lose energy which may be fatal. The white ants are a lot more unpleasant as they will chase you and any encounter nearly always ends badly for you. The only way of getting past them successfully is to use the ant spray. Other creatures generally have the same effect as the coloured ants, all except for the spider, a wonderfully animated creature but very deadly. Death itself is followed by a quickie funeral conducted on the spot. Should you have any lives left, resumption is from the same spot.
Wriggler takes place across 256 playing screens as you fight for survival in the Maggot Marathon to end them all, with the final object being to reach the planet surface. Points are awarded for picking up objects and eating food. When your energy level reaches a critical point on the bar at the top, the computer emits anxious beeps to remind you.
Control keys: Q/W or O/P left/right, K/M or Q/A up/down, L,M,T or zero to pick up drop, alternatively QWERT or the cursors
Joystick: Sinclair 2, Kempston, cursor type, Micro Power add-on
Keyboard play: responsive
Use of colour: excellent
Graphics: lively, well drawn, superbly animated and smooth
Sound: good tunes, reasonable spot effects
Skill levels: 1
Lives: 4 with possibility of finding extra ones
Screens: over 250
'This is Romantic Robot's first excursion into the games world, and if all their games are up to this standard they could soon be amongst the top software houses. Wriggler is a totally original game, I certainly can't think of another where you control a maggot anyway! The graphics are good and the animation of some of the creatures is excellent, have a look at the spider. Sound and colour are both used well. Wriggler is a fun game to play and offers hours of enjoyment to all, in fact of the games I've seen recently, this is one of the most enjoyable I've played. Overall, a very good game worth buying.'
'Wriggler is an original game which has some very neat graphics and it is very different from anything I have seen before, except perhaps Antics which it slightly resembles at first. To be able to combine arcade features so well with adventure aspects and throw in a dash of strategy is an exceptional idea and although it has been done before, it seems to work especially well with this game. Colour has been put to good use throughout and does add that lively element that so many games miss out these days. Animation is very good too and I especially like the way the huge spider creeps forward ready to pounce, and the way 'you' wriggle about this huge nightmare of a maze (well aren't all mazes nightmares)? I think this game presents quite a task and whether it will keep your interest really depends on what the other mazes have to offer - it's difficult enough that I have yet to escape from the Garden. Sound isn't too bad either, with some nice tunes. STOP PRESS - I'm in Hell now!!'
'I must confess that my first impression of Wriggler was not a good one, I thought it was going to be rather dull. I was very wrong. The feature that attracted me the most, apart from the graphics and animation, was how the different elements, maze, arcade and adventure, combined to make this an absorbing game. The graphics, animation and choice of colour are superb, helping to make the display clear and uncluttered. At first I thought the movement was rather slow but when the action starts it's best to have your wellies warmed and ready, your thinking cap on and your ant spray armed. Wriggler is very hard to win but the graphics alone make the challenge worth surmounting. I never thought I would enjoy spending so much time as a maggot.'
Ross: Romantic Robot's not a name I'd come across before, so I was very pleasantly surprised by this game. You're a contestant in the Annual Maggot Marathon, so all you have to do is wriggle your way to the finish.
The area of play covers 256 screens and features a whole geography of distinctly different landscapes, each with its own problems. You start the race with three competitors but they soon head off in different directions. You have the choice of following them or making your own way. The paths you follow are bordered by multi-coloured foliage - similar species to those growing in Sabre Wulf. All the time you're racing, your energy decreases, so you must either eat or become just another pile of bones in the lonely wastes. Food, in the form of ice creams or cups of tea can be picked up and eaten whenever you're on your last legs (legs? maggots? Oh, well! lid).
Two varieties of ants and spiders lurk within the leaves - the first are relatively harmless, but watch out for the others, they're deadly.
The graphics are very good if a little sparse but they do become repetitive and the game plays on the slow side. All in all, a respectable runner-up rather than a winner. 3/5 MISS
Dave: A very original game with fun graphics, but it's a touch slow to play. There's a large area to explore but illogical layout makes mapping difficult. 3.5/5 HIT
Roger: I'd like to say this was rotten to the core but you won't worm it out of me... MISS
CRAWLING OUT from the dunghill of worthy utilities comes the Romantic Robot maggot. Romantic Robot has hitherto confined its activities to producing utilities and music programs, but its first arcade game demonstrates an appreciation of entertainment as well as a sound knowledge of byte lore.
Wriggler casts you as a maggot, big and white and squiggly, taking part in the four stage maggot marathon. First you must find your way out of the garden, then negotiate the scrubland, only to crawl underground into the tortuous labyrinth. Thence to the mansion itself and the final exit.
The game is essentially an extended maze, with plenty of confusing exits and entrances which defy the laws of normal map-making. On the way you must avoid or destroy the marauding denizens of the lawn. Particularly revolting are the giant deathshead spiders whose spindly legs inch along the corridors and paths with deliberate menace. Some of those monsters are relatively harmless in that they stick to known routes. Others such as the wasps and termites, zero in on you and soon digest your weak, white pulsating body.
Graphics are large - two or three character squares at minimum - and although the movement is slow, maggots do not exactly shift like the clappers themselves.
A piece of electronic muzak titled Moons of Jupiter is thrown in on the B-side of the cassette - definitely music to squirm to. Wriggler represents a good few hours of fun. It contains plenty of humour and challenge in a rather different setting to the normal hi-tech or low-fantasy scenarios we have come to expect of arcade-adventure generally.
Publisher Romantic Robot
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair
SUPPLIER: Romantic Robot
Not only do you get a great game when you get your hands on the Wriggler - you also get Jean-Michel Jarre-style music to play as you play
The Wriggler is a cute maggot - and he's competing in the great Annual Maggot Marathon, the most dangerous and spectacular event in the insect sporting world.
You have guide your maggot through a massive maze-like course of 256 screens which begin peacefully enough in the garden, move on the scrubland, into the underground then finally to a mansion and lift shaft. But whatever you do - don't go to Hell!
There are lots of puzzles to be solved along the way and various creatures avoided. But at least there's lots of cups of tea to be had along the way!
The graphics and sound are excellent and the game is totally addictive.
I particularly liked the way the Wriggler "dies" when you run out of energy - or into a nasty. He is reduced to a crumbling pile of dinosaur-like bones!
This is Romantic Robot's first venture into the games market - and if this is an example of the quality of their product then they are a name to be watched.
GAME TYPE: Arcade Adventure
Three, two, one: and they are off, in the annual Maggot Marathon. The other worms wriggle quickly away as you, Wriggler, hero of the game, consider your strategy.
Starting on the maze before you you meet a wandering ant. Ants can be lethal, but this one keeps out of your way. Round the corner, and you find a welcome cup of coffee waiting for you. Do not relax for too long, though. One touch from an ant could leave you with your whole body crumbling gruesomely to pieces and one fewer life.
The pace of the game is a little slow moving, especially on deserted screens. On those with enemies approaching or chasing you, things seem to move far too quickly. Enemies are gruesomely animated, especially the long legged spiders. All those eight legs, all moving at once, yeeuch.
Once out of the maze like garden you are far from home and dry. You must then wander through the scrub-land, through the underground, avoid going through hell, wander through the mansion and escape.
Wriggler verges on being an adventure as it involves collecting and using objects as well as sorting out a maze and avoiding nasties.
Original and cute, Wriggler is produced for the 48K Spectrum by Romantic Robot, 77 Dyne Road, London NW6.
Restful little game which comes with musical soundtrack "The moons of Jupiter" by Alex Goldscheider on the flip-side. In the 30 year-long maggot race you must move through four main areas: the garden, the scrubland, the underground and the mansion. You collect food and objects in the usual way. The graphics are very nice and this may appeal to people who find Atic-Atac too hectic.
Despite the cassette cover that seems to promise yet another 'shoot the caterpillar' game, Wriggler is more original and more fun to play than you might expect.
You play the part of a worm (that's novel for a start) taking part in a race around a garden. The garden is populated by assorted nasties, ants of various types and a superbly animated spider that is instant death if it touches you. Beyond the boundaries of the garden are an underground labyrinth and (although I haven't found them yet) a mansion and planet surface, so there's plenty of scope for wandering around and exploring.
Scattered along the way are various items including food to keep you going, ant sprays for when you're caught in a tight spot, extra lives, and even a parachute. All the graphics are well drawn and the animation is very smooth. Even the movement of the Wriggler is novel in that rather than just moving left/ right/up/down, you have to adopt a sort of wriggly side-to-side movement if you want to move quickly.
The only minor irritation that I found was the tune that played after losing a life. Why do programmers insist on using these silly little tunes? Nobody likes them and they only slow the game down while you're waiting to get on with it.
Still, that aside, I enjoyed Wriggler and will be going back to it, to try and find the rest of the locations. It's just that little bit different from the rest of the current crop and well worth buying.
P.S. I'd just like to thank RR for the cute fluffy toy they sent along to publicise the game which has proved very popular in the ZX offices.
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