Bobby Bearing

by Robert Figgins, Trevor Figgins
The Edge
Crash Issue 31, Aug 1986   page(s) 20,21

Producer: The Edge
Retail Price: £7.95
Author: Robert and Trevor Figgins

In the land of Technofear, mothers tell their baby Ball Bearings fearsome tales about the perilous Metaplanes. They say that unless they're good little Bearings the monsters from the Metaplanes will come and get them in their sleep. Most young Bearings listen to this story with wide eyes and heed what their parents have told them, but occasionally the odd rebellious Bearing decides that he or she knows best and goes out to explore.

In all fairness, Bobby Bearing and his brothers were very obedient children were very obedient children until Cousin Nasty came to stay. He convinced the younger Bearing brothers that the Metaplanes were quite harmless and suggested a little sortie. However, the stories about the Metaplanes were not pure fiction and the Bearing brothers, together with their cousin, disappeared without trace. Being the eldest in the family Bobby must venture into the Metaplanes himself and try and rescue his relatives before it's too late.

The Metaplanes are inhabited by a race of mutant bearings - fearsome black spheres with huge teeth. Their idea of fun is to prey upon innocent bearings and do nasty things to them. Bobby soon discovers this for himself as he roams around the 3D maze that makes up the Metaplanes. The Black Bearings are very possessive about their property and get quite vicious. They jump out from dark corners and stun our hero into seeing stars.

Somewhere in the Metaplane, Bobby's brothers lie in a state of unconsciousness. The heroic Bobby must locate his relatives and then push them along, back through the maze, and shove them through the tube that leads to their home. Not a simple task, as the maze is very large and it is very easy to get lost or wander into a screen from which there is no escape.

Bobby Bearing can roll around the maze following the arrows that show him the exits from the current section. Air blasting holes send master Bearing shooting up on a current of warm air - with careful timing they can be used as lifts to get the little smiling steel ball to previously inaccessable areas.

Each monochromatic screen contains a single section of the three dimensional maze, and as Bobby moves off an arrowed edge of one screen, the next section of maze flips into view. Switches in the ground turn on magnets, trigger off nasties and activate blocks which may be used as lifts when Bobby passes over them.

Apart from the evil Black Bearings, there are other dangers in the Metaplanes. Bobby really has to keep his wits about him. Slabs of concrete come smashing down to the ground and getting caught under a descending block has stunning results - literally. Bobby must also keep to the pathways in the maze - if he strays too close to the edge of a ramp on the screen he stands a reasonably good chance of falling off. When Bobby is stunned a little question mark appears above his head and his eyes roll in confused concussion.

At the bottom right hand side of the screen a little counter ticks down as the game progresses. Whenever Bobby falls off a ledge or gets squashed by a flying slab he is incapable of moving for a while and the clock counter speeds up, removing vital seconds from the time limit in which the missing bearings have to be rescued.

A window below the main play area reveals the name of the next member of the Bearing family who should be found and herded to safety. Naughty Cousin Nasty. Mummy Bearing is going to be well cross when she gets hold of him!


Control keys: Y-P up and right, H-ENTER down and left, alternate keys on bottom row up and left/down and right
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Keyboard play: responsive
Use of colour: monochromatic
Graphics: very neat details
Sound: a few effects, but no tune
Skill levels: one
Screens: 150

Though very derivative in its presentation - Spindizzy does seem to be a title destined to inspire a million clones - Bobby Bearing is a heap of fun to play. Its main appeal is the realistic reactions of the little steel ball as he's guided around the Metaplanes. Bobby realistically rebounds off all manner of obstacles in a very convincing manner, even curved ones. As far as the game goes, it's brill, though a little bit difficult at first. It's very easy to get lost when you start out since some screens tend to repeat. After a while though, the old arcade adventuring instinct should take control and a fairly logical map forms within your mind. Bobby Bearing is a game I'd recommend to most people, especially those enthralled by Spindizzy. Though the format is similar, the challenge is different enough to stir up a fair bit of enthusiasm.

Fabulous! A surreal world in your Spectrum where its residents stick to the laws of gravity, inertia, curvature and all the rest, completely convincingly. Bobby has got to be one of the best computer characters yet - his animation is superb and his smiling gob is really endearing. The first noticeable thing about Bobby Bearing is the loader: it's a sort of Fighting Warrior loader but a scrolling message moves along the bottom while loading - very professional. I found the presentation of the game very smart and pleasing. The graphics are neat and well detailed - especially the baddies. The sound leaves a bit to be desired with only a few spot effects. The best point about Bobby Bearing is the actual animation and movement of Bobby around the maze - all done very smoothly and accurately. 'Curvispace 3D' is the name THE EDGE have given to this new technique - well worth checking out.

Hooray it's finally here! The torturous wait is over at long last and I think I can truthfully say that it was worth it. What a lovely game. The 3D playing area is very good, although I think that some of the screens tend to repeat a bit too often. It is quite easy to get lost if you aren't too familiar with the whole area. Your character is also very good, moving around the place well. I was a little surprised to find that he couldn't jump about or fall off the edges of sections of the maze - this gives the feeling that you are not in complete control all the time, but makes life easier. The sound is good, with some very nice effects in the game but no tune. I recommend this game to everyone, especially Marble Madness and Spindizzy freaks.

Use of Computer: 94%
Graphics: 94%
Playability: 92%
Getting Started: 92%
Addictive Qualities: 93%
Value for Money: 91%
Overall: 94%

Summary: General Rating: A technically stunning game which is addictive and fun to play.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 8, Aug 1986   page(s) 30

The Edge

A quick glance at this game and you immediately think of it as a Gyroscope/Spindizzy/Kirel clone. Well, aren't you the little games expert, then! Actually, you're wrong. It happens to be a similar style, but in no way is it an the same nesting box at all, petal.

You are, predictably enough, Bobby Bearing, a spherical (no ball gags, puh-leez) droid, charged with retrieving his buddies. Through some painful twist of plot, all your chums are scattered around tho 3D viewpoint maze, and it's up to you to shove them along from behind (Ooo!) until they're safely back in the recess from whence they came.

As you can probably picture, shoving a smooth metal ball along with another smooth metal ball isn't the easiest task in the world. Yup, like all the best games it's easy to learn, but **$%!! hard to play. To make it not just annoying but plain intolerable, there are a host of hazards to contend with. Evil black droids lurk in cubby holes to bounce you, magnets and switches divert you and activate lifts out of turn. And worst of all, platforms pound some intersecting corridors like steam hammers - you have to time your passage very carefully indeed if you don't want to get squashed flat.

The graphics on this game are brilliant - they delight the viewer, and entertain as much on their own as the gameplay itself. Bobby's movements are very realistic, and his mobility and inertia, considering he's a fictional droid, are fascinating to watch. In fact it's so nice to look at that you spend most of the first hour just watching what the program can do - blow playing it!

Just when you think you've seen 'em all, something rolls around the corner and taps you on the leg and trills 'Hi, I'm a new and totally original game called Bobby Bearing. Buy Me!'

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

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 53, Aug 1986   page(s) 23

Label: The Edge
Authors: Robert and Trevor Figgins
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: Various
Reviewer: Clare Edgeley

However unfair it is, Bobby Bearing and Spindizzy are remarkably similar in both layout and gameplay and Spindizzy was out first.

And yet when you look closer there are differences and - of all the Marble Madness clones - Bobby Bearing is top of the list on the graphics front.

Bobby Bearing is the sob story of a young ball bearing(!) who has to roll out on to the Metaplanes and rescue his four brothers and one cousin from the evil bearings. is The Edge being serious?

And so off Bobby trundles to search and search and roll round in circles - it's bound to happen to you too. Each screen displays - like Spindizzy - a sometimes short, sometimes complex section of the landscape. Arrows point to exits. Sometimes it looks as if an earthquake's torn the land in two then thrust the plates together to form a higgledy-piggledy mess of mountains, valleys, gentle slopes and steep escarpments.

The graphics are stupendous as these games go, and carry what The Edge calls 'Curvispace 3D'. A fancy name for a fancy bit of programming. The authors have managed to create the impression of perfectly spherical tunnels, grooves, ball bearings etc. And the movement is on a par with the graphics - fast, fluid and the antics of a ball have been lovingly and accurately copied.

Spindizzy with its spare rather crude design sometimes looks quite uninteresting by comparison.

Rolling through valleys and mountainous regions, Bobby must keep a watchful eye for one of his brothers. Stunned, and often guarded by a black bearing with gnashing teeth, he must push the inert ball before him back to the family bunker.

It's all horribly difficult. There are moving blocks to use as lifts, some of which need to be triggered by floor switches before they'll move. There are magnets which'll draw the bearings into danger and air ducts to be used as breezy lifts. It's difficult enough getting yourself through this hell-hole of an obstacle course, but pushing another bearing in front of you is suicidal.

Getting squashed by moving bricks is perhaps the most usual death, leaving you as flat as a pancake. There again you might only be half-squashed, that leaves you in a very funny shape with the crooked smile still pinned to your lips.

In any case it won't be there long. You don't exactly lose a life, instead you lose vital time.

As you venture further afield you seem to come across more complex problems - convoluted screens interspersed with long, sections of chutes and corridors.

The fact is that if you lose a brother on the way home, you're not given another chance, and with only three out of four saved, you can't win. However, it's the cousin, the last one you collect which you should worry about. Apart from being more tricky to drag home. The Edge has other things planned to hinder you still further. Perhaps the screens' layout will change, or maybe your access will be blocked. I can't help here - I didn't get that far.

Bobby Bearing could keep me happy for hours. It's a pleasure to play and, though the puzzles are about as difficult as those in Spindizzy, the graphics beat it hands down. My only criticism is the sound which is blocked out when using a Kempston interface - the satisfying burbles, squeaks and splats on the Spectrum return when you use the keyboard.

If you've already got Spindizzy, I don't suppose you'll want another of the same.

On the other hand if you haven't got it, or Gyroscope, or Quazatron or... then it's the one to go for.

Overall: 5/5

Summary: Polished and professional. A late release (too late?) in the Marble Madness epidemic, but very, very nice.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 58, Aug 1986   page(s) 18,19

MACHINE: Spectrum 48/128
PRICE: £7.95

Here it is! BObby Bearing, the game that we've all heard so much about. It has a feature called 'Curvispace 3D' which is supposed to be revolutionary. It is!!!

Bobby Bearing is fab, even its loading is weird and wonderful. First of all the computer finds 'Bobby' instead of 'Program: Bobby'. This is an old trick, but then the title page comes on, it is drawn in colour and in a sort of spiral fashion. Weird.

Then a scrolling message comes up and a counter counts down. Great stuff. Now to the actual game!

First of all a nice ball bounces up and down as you select your method of control. As you do this picture scrolls left to right of the various joysticks/keyboard. What a nice touch. Now you press '0' and you're away. The next thing you notice is the 3D seems different to the old Ultimate type, in fact I dare to say it's BETTER.

Then Bobby trots out, and wow, does he roll brilliantly, yes folks, Bobby actually rolls. Perfect animation is definitely one of the good things about this game. Now what do you have to do? Well it goes like this.

Bobby and his family, live in Technofear, a metal world which is a nice sort of place. But there were parts of the world which Bobby and his brothers were told never to go into, as this is where all the bad bearings went.

They had all been good until the arrival of their cousin. He dared the brothers to go out to the forbidden zones, and like complete mugs they accepted. (Well boys will be boys you know!)

Bobby, being the brave and handsome type, has to go in and rescue his brothers from the baddies, and if he feels like it, he might rescue his cousin as well!

Another great feature on Bobby is the fact that you don't fall off the edges of the screen, unlike Spindizzy, which gets annoying.

Bobby Bearing features great graphics, weird sound and brilliant game play. The Edge say it's going to be their biggest game yet. I believe them.

I love this game, it's so playable. If you don't buy this, throw your Spectrum away.

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

Award: C+VG Game of the Month

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ZX Computing Issue 28, Aug 1986   page(s) 53


The Edge

Within the last four months, three different games based on the Marble Madness theme have been released. First came Gyroscope, and the less said about that the better! Next was Spin Dizzy, a game I personally thought was great. With Bobby Bearing, the Edge have stretched the Spectrum to its absolute limits, and in doing so have produced an all time great.

You play Bobby, a small and immensely cute little bearing who is getting lonely having no company. Upon hearing that your cousins are not too far away, you set about attempting to find them, and return them to the safety of your home.

Unfortunately, they are immobile, and you must therefore push them everywhere! Bobby Bearing is played in about two hundred and fifty screens, each of which has different entrances and exits. Getting from A to B is fraught with difficulties, and to be even slightly successful, you must learn your way about. To succeed in Bobby Bearing you must be prepared to make a map! To help, as well as hinder, there are a series of lifts and mobile blocks. These can either take you to a new section of the map, or more often squash you. After a couple of hours play, it soon becomes apparent that certain 'tricks' must be employed.

As far as hazards go, the game revolves more around the difficulty of play, rather than deadly enemies; although there are a few 'baddie bearings' - complete with fangs and leers - who chase you around various screens. To counter this you must rush them, American Football style, and then dive out of the screen.

Graphically, Bobby Bearing is stunning. Using a technique the Edge call 'Curvispace 3-D', the realism created by the rolling of the bearings is quite remarkable. What makes this game so superior to all the other Marble Madness games I have seen is the animation and backgrounds. No longer are the backgrounds flat facets with sharp angles. Bobby Bearing has curves, loops and bends - all of which you roll around with unreal accuracy.

Once Bobby has managed to locate a cousin, the first of which is called Barnaby (ahh!), you must push him through the maze back to the original start screen. It is only when you attempt this that you realise what all the banking around each corner is for; you try pushing a bearing round a ninety degree turn!

In all, there are five different cousins to rescue - or to get squashed! - all of whom are spread at the extremities of the massive maze. Only when you get near the edges of the maze do you discover all the really clever little touches, which include switches which make you immune to all dangers for thirty seconds. Of these, my personal favourite are the hot air blasts which throw Bobby into the air, enabling him to reach higher ledges. If I had to criticise the game, a map similar to Spin Dizzy would have made life a great deal easier - although I'm not sure if that is what The Edge would have wanted!

Otherwise, Bobby Bearing is very nearly perfect. This may sound a bit over the top, but this game deserves a whole string of superlatives. If you want to buy one game this year, and as yet you are undecided, buy Bobby Bearing and help him save his cousins - you certainly won't regret it!!!

Award: ZX Computing ZX Monster Hit

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Computer Issue 8, Aug 1986   page(s) 45

The Edge
Marble Madness

So you thought Spin Dizzy was the best Marble Madness game you were going to get? Well, hold on to your hats, this is better. All you had to do in Spin Dizzy was determine how to get through the various rooms and pick up objects. This game adds a whole new dimension to that.

Trapped somewhere in the 240 screens are five little cousins of Bobby, the hero bearing. You guide Bobby in his quest to bring home the bearings. To do so you must negotiate various hazards such as falling, being squashed or mugged by the mutant bearings which inhabit curvispace.

Curvispace is a new innovation in this type of game - indeed in any type of arcade game. The game includes the usual slopes and edges you must avoid but also has curved areas involving momentum, gravity and gradient, along with all the other problems.

Just getting round the maze is tricky but your problems have scarcely started. Once you have located one of the bearings you must guide it back home. That is done by nudging another bearing with Bobby. Then the screens, which presented only a small hazard to Bobby on his own, become impossible. That gives the game incredible depth. The only way you will have a chance of getting anywhere is to have an intimate knowledge of the map and the puzzles presented by each room. Only then will you feel confident that you know the safest route home wherever you find a fellow bearing.

It is always tempting to say, whenever a game of this calibre is released, that surely it is as far as they can take the Spectrum - until the next blockbuster is released. Without doubt this game is the state-of-the-art in Spectrum games - graphically superb and a rattling good game to boot.

Graphics: 5None
Sound: /5
Playability: 4/5
Value For Money: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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