Velly stlange, these Japanese. You always feel that their game plots result not from in-depth planning sessions, but from nightmares induced by an overdose of bad sushi.
Plotting, (and that must be one of the oddest titles for a computer game ever). Is a coin-op conversion, and it's all about blocks. A bit like Breakout, really, only with elements of Rubik's Cube and Tetris in it. Oh, and a bit of Pacman, but only in the sense that the hero is a little yellow blob.
Here's how it goes. The little yellow blob can move up and down on the left-hand side of the screen. On the right-hand side are piles of blocks, and a sloping roof again composed of blocks, the layout of which changes on each level.
Blobby has a block in front of him, and the idea is to fire it at the pile of blocks, trying to hit one bearing the same design; a Taito symbol, cross, red circle or green square.
If you hit a block of the correct design, the next block along, whatever its symbol, flies through the air to land back in front of Blobby. But, you ask, what happens if you can't see a block of the right design? Well, you can try moving to the top of the screen and bouncing your block off the roof at 90 degrees; this allows you to hit blocks on the top of the pile. A flashing yellow arrow shows you the point you're aiming at, but doesn't actually indicate whether it's a worthwhile shot or not.
If there's a row of blocks of the same design, you can wipe out the whole lot in one go, earning big points bonuses. The ultimate idea is to clear a certain number of blocks (not necessarily the whole amount) in the time allowed, which decreases for each subsequent screen.
If you manage to completely miss a block of the correct design, you'll still get a block back, but instead of one of the normal patterns it will bear a terrifying lightning flash. This means that you've lost a life, but the lightning block can be used to hit any design. Your game will come to an end, though, if you put yourself in a position where no blocks of the current design are accessible; "Sorry, you have no current move" appears, and that's your lot.
On later levels the plot is complicated by tubes which appear dotted over the screen. These prevent you from hitting some columns of the pile, but let you shoot through them to hit others. What with these, the decreasing time limit and the increasingly demanding numbers of blocks required to qualify for the next level, Plotting should keep you occupied for level after level (if you're a bit mad).
The graphics are pretty plain. I don't see any reason why the same gameplay couldn't have been accompanied by a few slobbering space aliens or massive explosions. But if you're the sort of chappie who says "I know it looks simple, but the gameplay's great!", then you should check out Plotting.
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
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