Like the YS office at five to five on a Friday, time appears to have stopped in Ocean's latest 128K only, arcade adventure. We send aged... errrrm, ageless Rachael J Smith in search of living fossils. (Try Sinclair Abuser and Crush. Ed)
First they gave you The Great Escape but now those dinosaur hunters at Denton Designs deliver an even greater escape. It's just like some Saturday afternoon move where big lizards with stick-on rubber fins stand in for Stegosauri (classically educated reviewer), and muscular hunks spout lines like, "It's as if time stood still (gasp)." Well you'd be advised to look lively if you don't want to end up a dinosaur's dinner.
The lost plateau is not the ideal place to crash-land your four-seater plane, but it was all Jarrett could do to being his passengers to safety on the edge of a cliff. Now he's responsible for taking them out of this prehistoric hell-hole and only one thing is certain - it's going to be no picnic (the Thermos got broken in the crash).
And who are they, these four individuals, thrown together by fate? Jarret himself is the he-man all-rounder. Athletic Cambridge scholar Dirk was recently married to Gloria, a tough cookie in a fragile frame. And then there's Clive, an overweight businessman and Gloria's father, who's about to learn that American Express will not do nicely for a crowd of angry natives.
Each of these characters has their own uses, not the least of which is the ability to carry up to four objects, one of which is a bag which can hold a further four. Not that they're mere beasts of burden. Each one has their own character, which you'll need to exploit to bring everyone home to safety. For example, Dirk is a great help providing Gloria survives, but if she bites the dust he becomes a hopeless dork!
For such a vast and complex adventure, play is remarkably simple, with just four direction controls, plus fire to make the character run (must be that jungle food) - though this is hardly advisable if you're leading the group as you're likely to leave the rest behind. There are also two menus (Yum, yum. Phil) - one to select character and the other to control their inventory.
The graphics are everything you could ask and as imaginative as you'd expect from Denton, and the depth of the game is quite superb. My only grumble is that you can't save a game, which means you'll spend a lot of time repeating the early stages when you make a fatal mistake.
But all in all Where Time Stood Still looks destined to go down as a classic Spectrum game - and it's almost certainly the best that's been produced solely for the 128. More of this sort of thing, and the machine will have a whole new lease of life. So get into the realm of the dinosaurs - and find out how time flies when it stands still!
(Okay - so for once the YS Seal was so impressed with a game that it let us review a copy which still had a couple of days work to be done. Denton swears that it's working like Rentokil to iron out a couple of minor bugs - and based on past performance, we believe it. But rest assured, we'll be looking at the final release version and any alterations to the clapometer won't just mean a marking down in the mag, but the programmers will be up to their lower lips in dinosaur doodies!)
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