Spike in Transylvania

by Paul Griffiths, Russell Newman, Lyndon Sharp
Code Masters Ltd
Crash Issue 91, August 1991   (1991-07-18)   page(s) 58

Vikings - nasty bunch of characters. Lushing about in their dragon-headed ships raping and pillaging - it's all a bit much, really. And what's more, as Nick Roberts finds to his disgust, they all have beards (even the women). But now they've come a cropper, especially Spike, who's in for some Castle Capers!

Code Masters

I always feel sorry for people with beards, they obviously can't afford to buy a razor, the poor souls. Spike is one such person, with his big, bushy affair.

Spike and his facial-haired friends have been shipwrecked on the coast of Transylvania. Being in a drunken stupor, they didn't have a clue what was going on, and before they knew it they were banged up in the dungeons of the local castle.


All of them except our hero, that is! Hurrah! He managed to escape the grips of the local fuzz and is now all alone in a strange country! You have the task of helping Spike rescue his mates from the dungeons of the King's castle.

Spike's gameplay is classic arcade adventure stuff with screen after screen of action. There are characters to interact with, meanies to avoid, switches to switch and plenty of objects, some useful and some red herrings.

The cartoon look of the game is great. The characters have hilarious facial expressions and all the backgrounds are colourful and detailed. My only moan is that Spike appears to be transparent when he walks over a coloured background, and I'm sure he's not supposed to be a ghost.


The control method takes a little getting used to: because each screen is in semi-3D, Spike moves diagonally when you press up or down. Inexperienced players will probably charge him straight into a pursuing ghost, but don't fret, it's easily mastered.

On a difficulty scale, the puzzles in Spike would not rate very high. Most of them are really obvious - the difficulty is in getting to the correct screen to carry out an action. It didn't take too long before I had completed Spike so don't expect it to hold much lastability if you're with Mensa.

So, Spike in Transylvania - it's the perfect beginners arcade adventure! It's got lots of cute graphics and puzzles (that aren't excruciatingly puzzling)! It's got jolly tunes and plenty of fun to be had. And, do you know what? I loved it. Great stuff!

NICK [79%]

What the heck a big-bearded Scandinavian with cow horns on his bonce is doing in Dracula country I don't know, but Spikey in Transylvania is a very good (if tough) game. Plenty of brain exercise is needed because most of the puzzles don't have terribly simple solutions. Spike and co are monochrome, although the backgrounds are a kaleidoscope of colour. Sound is provided by a very jolly tune that plays throughout the game though it did grate after a while. Spikey in Transylvania is a really, really good arcade adventure but it's just lacking that certain something that prevents it being a Smash.
MARK [85%]

Presentation: 79%
Graphics: 82%
Sound: 78%
Playability: 79%
Addictivity: 83%
Overall: 82%

Summary: Wonderfully attractive arcade adventure with puzzles a-plenty (and boards, for that matter)

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 69, September 1991   page(s) 60,61

I was about to say that Spike the Viking couldn't possibly have been shipwrecked in Transylvania as the instructions reckon he has been) because Transylvania is right in the middle of Romania and covered in trees and mountains.

You can't even see the sea from it (unless you climb to the top of the tallest mountain and squint really hard). And anyway, what would the Vikings be doing raping and pillaging in Eastern Europe when they'd be lucky to get a longboat across the North Sea, let alone the Black Sea, eh?

Then I noticed that it's actually Transilvania with an 'i' we're talking about here. Those canny Codies are one step ahead of me once again. Transilvania with an 'i' is a completely different kettle of fish. Not only is it within a stone's throw of Norway, but it's also a whole lot more scary than Transylvania with a 'y'. So scary, in fact, that all Spike's shipmates have been locked up in the dungeons of the local castle and are currently undergoing the most horrible torture imaginable. That all right, then. (The only weird thing is that the instructions contain an 0898 number for help on Spike In Transilvania with a 'y'. Maybe there's a squeal afoot.)

So, with lots of vikings who're scattered all round a large 3D(ish) castle, and a cute little character wandering about trying to rescue them, the scene is set for a traditional Codies walk-around-solving-puzzles game. It kicks off in a cottage in the village where Spike has been taken in by a friendly local. But the door won't open. Cripe, two femtoseconds into the game and a puzzle already! Tell you what, I'll tell you this one for nowt (just to prove I plat these things properly) - pick up the door knob that's lying on the floor next to you.

As the game unfolds, and you get a bit bored of exploring the village, you'll find the main entrance to the castle. Hurrah! Trouble is, it's blocked by a guard with strict instructions to turn away anyone with horns sticking out of their helmet. Don't panic, though. There's a way in, only I'm not going to tell you it. (Although I do know, honest). The castle's a huge place, with dark, smelly dungeons and terrifyingly high battlements. And lots in between too, like bedrooms, banquetting halls and staircases. What's more, most of them are haunted by ghosts, or rats and bats at the very least. Luckily, however, there's space left for all the objects and things you'll need to collect in order to solve all the puzzles. There are also 'characters' which you can 'interact' with - mainly a case of giving them something and hoping it's what they're after. They tend to hint at what this might be when you bump into them. Eg. If someone won't let you past, but say 'Gosh, I'm hungry' (or words to that effect) he's sure to want something to eat.

The other thing you'll need to do as you're solving puzzles is collect keys. These are needed to let your chums out of their cells, whereupon they'll thank you and scarper, leaving you to complete the quest on your own. Tsk.

So given that the Codies have written absolutely hundreds of these sorts of things before, and every single one of them (that I can think of) has been absolutely brilliant, what's this one like? Could they possibly have gone on walk-around-solving-puzzles game too far, and made a complete hash of it? In a word, no. Spike In Transilvania is another corker, just as good as Dizzy and friends. What a relief, eh?

There are one or two minor problettes, though. For a start, Spike's a bit crap in that he can't jump. This means that even somehing as innocuous as a chair represents an impenetrable barrier too him, and indeed chairs are often used to mark the edges of the bits he's allowed to go in. It just looks a bit silly, that's all. And the other things is that to pick something up you've got to be standing right over it - a fraction of a pixel above or below just won't do.

But as far as graphics, sound and general presentation go, Spike's the icing on the proverbial doughnut. And it's fun to play too. Easy enough for hopeless cases like me, but with enough of a challenge, and enough screens to map, to keep the majority of Spec-chums occupied for ages. Looks like I fled Tipshop in the nick of time - in a few weeks time it's likely to disappear under sackloads of Spike tips.

Life Expectancy: 86%
Instant Appeal: 82%
Graphics: 79%
Addictiveness: 85%
Overall: 85%

Summary: Another Dizzy-style exploranza, brimming with puzzles and everything else we've come to expect.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 118, December 1991   page(s) 47

Ging Gang Goole Goole etc, etc. Ah yes, those lazy, hazy days of summer spent at scout camp. Whilst ancient vicars of dubious reputation play contact sports with their cubs, bigger boys tell ghost stories to petrified youngsters. Transylvania usually reared up it's terrifying head in these stories and always managed to conjure up an aura of mystery and terror.

Beware of the vampire. That's what all the signs say at Transylvania's borders and believe me, most travellers should take heed. Unfortunately Spike isn't a normal traveller. Afflicted with a pathological desire to destroy the evil that has plagued this most scenic area of Hungary for centuries, he's condemned to a life of wandering and misery that befalls vicars of dubious reputation that get their pictures in the News of the World.

What you must do is save our diminutive hero from this fate worse than death is to take the reins and guide him along the path of evil that leads to eventual glory.

The game is basically a role playing game where you must gather and mix potions to defeat evil. A friendly wizard, once found, will name the ingredients that you need before you search around a village and a castle to collect the necessary gear. Some items will be easy to find, others less so and the game requires some thought about how to go about getting them. The village is quite straightforward but the castle is a large maze. Spike can only store six items at a time so if you find something more useful than a chocolate fire engine, make sure you make a note of where it is so you can go back and collect it later.

The graphics are acceptable but objects are sometimes difficult to make out. The main sprite is easy to control but dodgy graphic collisions and restricted movement (Spike sometimes appears to be nailed to objects), can make it a little frustrating. Fortunately enemies are a bit slow too, so the action, if you could really call it that, never gets too dangerous.

Spike In Transylvania isn't an especially long or difficult game. The main sprite looks a little like Captain Birdseye with a fireman's kit on, and although the game isn't cute it is involving and has some challenge. Spike won't drive anyone wild with enthusiasm or win big prizes for originality but it's certainly not a rusty old nail in the coffin either.

Label: CodeMasters
Memory: 48K/128K
Price: £3.99 Tape, N/A Disk
Reviewer: Alan Dykes

GARTH: Spike's very much like jelly, cream and sponge dessert with a penknife trying to kill a whole load of nasties. Spike in Transylvania IS an adventurous title.

Graphics: 76%
Sound: 72%
Playability: 70%
Lastability: 75%
Overall: 74%

Summary: Spike is a creepy horror role playing fang that hasn't really got much depth or excitement. Although competently put together, it will only appeal if you're in the mood for a role playing game with a trivial feel to it.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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