Let's face it, Pi-R Squared from Mind Games doesn't start off too well, what with being called after an exceedingly boring mathematical equation and all.
The plot doesn't make it sound much better either. Apparently you've got to chase through your mind assembling equations you need to give a lecture, avoiding distracting thoughts and keeping up your IQ. Worse! There's books to collect. And calculators too!!
All of which is a tad off-putting, and that's a shame. Because, lurking somewhere under this unpromising exterior is actually quite a playable little game.
Your mind - which forms the playing area - is portrayed as a series of interlocking cog wheels whirling in space (not unconvincing, you may think). Each wheel spins at a different speed and your on-screen persona, represented by a smiley face, moves around the rims of the wheels, using three control keys to move either clockwise or anticlockwise or to jump from wheel to wheel where the rims touch. (By the way, don't bother trying to use a joystick - the game crashes if you have a Kempston interface connected.)
One each level you are shown the equation which you have to assemble by collecting the pieces in order. Moving all the way around a wheel automatically collects the piece it contains.
To make it more difficult there are stray though-bubbles, out to drain your IQ, some moving in set patterns, some randomly, and some homing in on you.
Collecting books and calculators increases your speed and IQ, while hammers allow you to stomp stray thoughts. Fond memories such as ice-cream cones, and abstract ones represented by molecules, cause your IQ to drop - reach zero and you become either a moron (or an Eastenders fan).
It's the gameplay - mainly the way you move - which makes the game so neat.
Slick animation and screen-flipping, great music and an original and maddeningly addictive scenario make Pi-R Squared a surprise hit.
I was all set to hate it from the description on the insert, but I had second thoughts...
Label: Mind Games
Author: Gary Ireland
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
OK, first things first, it's called "Pi-R-Squared". not "Mister Two". Secondly, it's not a conventional arcade adventure, but a unique and maddeningly addictive challenge of skill and forward planning.
Well received on its full-price release, Pi-R-Squared (the name's based on an equation for calculating the area of a circle, in case you didn't know) takes place in a strange universe of spinning cogged wheels. You control a robotic sphere which travels around the spinning wheels, changing direction and jumping from one wheel to another in search of sections of geometric formulae.
Stray thoughts interfere with your progress, draining your IQ, which can be restored by freeing books from the centre of wheels. There's also a calculator which improves your speed, and other bonuses and hazards.
Graphically smooth, cleverly designed and very unusual, Pi-R-Squared is worth a look if you're bored with the run-of-the-mill shoot-'em-ups.
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
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