This is one of my favourites for the ST, yet it would seem that not that many have played it, and those that have tend not to share my feelings about it, so I thought that this month I'd suggest this one and encourage you all to play it.
Graphics, Sound & Gameplay
It is another one of those collecting-the-keys puzzle games that I love so much, but with a difference - here you are a ball, and you roll around this great ball park with pipes, arrows, teleports, and hazards which guide your movement between the different bounded sections of the arena. As well as these features, there are also the dreaded black/gold pitholes rendered in parallax that must be avoided. The game is very colourful and the graphics is very good considering it is only 16 colours. The scrolling animation is super smooth, and the ball's dynamics are realistic with a definite sense of momentum and inertia, although with joystick tic-tacking it doesn't behave all that well. The game window occupies only 1/2 of the screen but you tend not to realise this during play and it certainly doesn't feel like you're looking at a half sized window. the bottom of the screen contains useful details about what things you have picked up, game-time and things like that. This information is well presented.
To complement the graphics, there are 10 pieces of happy chip music complete with a Juke-Box function. The game certainly presents itself as a thing to entertain you. Control is predominantly by the joystick, although you will occasionally need the mouse/keyboard for accessing certain functions during play. You can use keyboard controls exclusively, like I do: QAOP (Roll) Space (Mouse Right Click) and Return (Mouse Left Click).
Other upgrades appear throughout the course - some with price tags attached to them like super traction for navigating ice, eyes which add detail to the map, pickaxes which allow you to fill in pitholes, and parachutes just incase you roll over the edge you can save yourself if your reflexes are quick enough. There are also bombs to demolish walls, a speed upgrade which doubles your rolling speed (can be a blessing and a curse), and finally a wrecking ball upgrade which allows you to ram down the weaker walls. To afford these upgrades coins can be picked up, but if you're a bit short of cash then loitering over an icon can steal the upgrade for a bit of your lifeforce. But don't let it run too low.
There are lots of hazards to be found in the game, but only the pitholes are directly fatal. Other hazards instead draw from the ball's energy reserves. These can all be avoided with due care and attention, but that's no fun. A large part of the enjoyment of the game is to roll rampant like a kid in a funhouse crashing into everything and ignoring the fact that it's not doing you any good. So for this month's game therapy, play Rock'n'roll and expose your inner child.
Start a new game and you are prompted to enter your name. Type in RAINBOW ARTS and press return. (There are just enough letters to do this =12). The background will change grey, and the box will be replaced with 12 ! marks. Cheat mode is now active. To warp to a particular level, type over the ! marks with the correct level code and press return. The level begins. The level codes are mathematical. Type the level number (two digits), then two x's, then four digits which add up to the level number (0 is allowed), then two x's, then the level number in reverse. eg For level 21, type 21xx5556xx12. For level 3, type 03xx1110xx30
In case the ascii does not tabulate here, these strings read: Level number; Name; Difficulty/6; Time it took me to complete it; brief review
Level description & extra information
1 Easy Living 1 6 minutes A nice level to start with that's fairly linear and reasonably safe - you can't get lost and it's difficult to get killed, but do take care over the collapsing platforms that are found in the latter half. The last room with the little maze of blue pools is for points value only and can be bypassed by heading towards the exit at the top left. Whilst going to collect your first yellow key, the single pit hole that you find is a portal to a secret bonus level, run over it with a pickaxe to be transported there. If you've not seen the bonus level before, watch out for one particular fan half way through.
TIPS: The ball can get stuck (bug) if you go at a funny angle into the corner of pipes or doorways. So be careful and pass them squarely. With most transporters, you emerge on the opposite side at your destination than where you entered. Keep that in mind when you use one. Wrecking balls are the ones that make you turn gold. The traction is the one that covers you in blue + marks. These things only ever appear in the game where there is an place to use them, so look around before you buy it, or you risk it running out before you've used it. Sometimes you might wreck more than was intended with a wrecking ball, and you'll come across the upgrade again and wonder where it is supposed to be used. Anticipate the game's intent usage while you're wrecking things.
2 Up And Down 2 10 minutes Same graphics set as level 1, but this is non linear. You can easily forget what you are supposed to be doing. Don't waste your keys here either - some doors should stay locked because they only take you to places that are already accessible. It is possible to make a cock up here wasting keys, so take heed of gamesmaster Sarek's tips.
TIPS: If you fall into the block of arrows at the bottom, don't panic, you can break through by hitting them at speed, and you can get your speed up by bouncing off the arrows behind you - so that you rock (and roll) back and fro. To the right of the block the arrows is a doorway. Although it looks a bit out-of-the-way, this is a crucial doorway in the game, and your keys should be collected for the purpose of getting through here. Right at the bottom of the block of arrows, there is a channel that is just big enough to roll through to the right hand corner. Use it to see what keys you will need beyond the said doorway. At some point in this level you'll need to build a pathway across a mass of pitholes. You can warp to level 20 too - Find the room with silver blobs (they are infact eggs) - carefully squash ONLY the ones on the outer edge. The warp will be activated automatically.
3 Silent Moving 3 10 minutes A very colourful graphics set that camouflages the keys to some extent. It is a fairly linear level. Try not to break your joystick while fighting against the fans, and save your game before hitting the room of magnets which comes later - speed across the screen as there is nothing here that is essential to collect. The magnets are surrounded by collapsing floor tiles, so it is best to get out asap.
4 Time Is Money 1 4 minutes You'll like this one. Not a lot, but you'll like it. A quick linear level with lots of stuff to pick up, but it requires careful control on the open platforms. This is where dexterity comes into the game. It isn't hard to do, but just don't feel tempted to go in full throttle like you normally do. Enjoy it because level 5 is a bastard.
5 Words A Easy 4 7 minutes A pesky space age level that seems easy once you've got the hang of it, but you'll forget how to do it in just one night. In the previous level you learned to navigate those open platforms. You need a lot of that here. In a short space of time you realise that you must find the bomb, but where is it? Once you find it you realise you need keys, but where are these? And then there's those pitholes to worry about...
6 Geometric 2 11 minutes Same graphics set as level 3. Moderately enjoyable, moderately easy and linear for the most part. Look at the map here - you are playing on a big circular platform and other shapes. Here you will be collecting pickaxes to build bridges between the different shapes. You can actually warp from level 6 to level 8 by placing three platform tiles in a stupid place - At the bottom of the room with the fans there is a size three gap in the railing: Three tiles here one in each row.
7 Secret Area 3 10 minutes This is a pesky level that will trick you into missing essential items that you can't go back to get, or using keys that are in short supply where you don't need to, and taking the wrong turning. Be cautious with every door, when turning & when running onto arrow strips. Play it with regular game saves too. It is all fairly linear, except for the secret area if you can find out how to get there! There is a brand new tile set here too - grey purple and orange. Once you've completed it and you know how the level works, it's actually quite fun to follow it around.
8 Varied Offer 3 13 minutes Another linear level whos difficultly is due to the many energy reducing hazards that you'll run over. So much so that conserving energy should be your priority here as your ball might pop before you make it out. The level also involves lots of jagged diagonal corridors which you are probably well aware by now are notoriously awkward to roll through. This level is drawn in the same colour theme as level 7. With playing and replaying and writing this, I've been at this game 3 hours. I'm having my first break now. I shall return tomorrow...
9 Crossroads 1 4 minutes On the outset the layout is a reminder of level 2, but upon exploration you realise that this is extraordinarly simple - you can see the exit, you know roughly how to get there, and off you go with green key in hand. The level is split into two parts - the left is fan world, the right is magnet world. Choose whichever way you like. Difficulties arise only for score raisers who will feel compelled to navigate the parts of the level with fans/magnets putting you in all sorts of danger. If scoring maximum points were compulsory, the level would be very tough and would get a difficulty rating of 5 or 6.
10 Try The Tree 2 10 minutes We're into double figures now. Get yourself ready for rock'n'roll proper. So stick on your Depeche Mode tapes, grab yourself a mug of tizer and a box of toppets, slump back into your bean bag with joystick in hand... Ready? Let's go...This level feels like a fresh new beginning: New tune, bright new colour scheme and... what's this? The level looks like a tree! Yes - This is a non-linear level for a change, and all these differences make it feel almost like a different game. There's switches and stuff all over the place that you have no idea what you're supposed to be doing. Many of the passages that make the branches on the tree are those awkward diagonals too. Having said that though, it isn't hard. Don't be put off by the non-linearity, be a wall follower - head left and follow things around clockwise. There isn't a lot to do - find the red keys and then head for the roots.
11 Beam Me Up 3 16 minutes So we guess this is going to involve lots of those transporters. Well, let's have a roll around and see what's what. Yep, it looks like it. When you've finished this level, it seems remarkably small - indeed a look at the map and we see that it is dominated by a just few spacious rooms. It's a surprise that it takes 16 mintes to follow it through, but most of this is from your time in the first room. The difficulty here is while getting your green key you have to roll carefully through a diagonal pathway made up of transporters - each of which will take you back to the start. The second of these rooms is flashing barrier country. If we call these things beams too, then we have a double meaning to 'beam me up'. For me, this level evokes a strange nostalgic feeling that burns into the same area of my memory as Doom 2's level 3. See what you think.
12 Bombastic 4 10 minutes This has nothing to do with Shaggy... Bombs you say? Bring it on! This is a nice little level the theme of which could easily have been anticipated but it's not easy. You will be rolling around sections of open tracks and using bombs to make bridges (yeah ok?!). Unlike normal open track following, you have to move away quickly from your bombs or else you'll be caught in the inferno. Make this mistake too often and your energy will be depleted before you have finished. It requires precise and efficient joystick control. And the chances are you'll get mad with your rock'n'roll ball for not doing anything with one joystick tap and then rolling too far with a second tap.
13 Tricky Trap 4 8 minutes This is one of the few timed games - you have 16 minutes which is plenty - even for someone who likes to wander off course like me. Most of this is basic difficulty level 2 stuff, with some level 3 stuff here and there. But the open ice platforms that you will encounter after 5 minutes are awkward enough to earn this a difficulty level 4. There are a couple of secret things too: Squash the two rooms of silver blobs and you are awarded full energy by the FORA whoever that is. You will need this energy after the ice platform caper! so make sure that you do the first room. There is also a shortcut if you can make it in time - in the upgrade room, collect the two speedballs and then the wrecking ball last and head straight into the pipes on the right with pickaxe selected. As you near the end of the pipe, bend the joystick to the left so that you waste no time going straight into the next tube. As you emerge, ram the wall straight infront of you (down) before the wrecking ball upgrade wears out and place a bomb on the now accessible pad to create a new pathway to the exit.
14 Wayout 5 16 minutes What a monster! Everything you've done so far is child's play! This is a maze. Simple enough you might think, but for some reason this is really tough. The actual maze bit isn't too hard but the depth of the level is quite high. The overall effort/endurance I have found really tiring. I'm having another break now, and that's my weekend gone... Firstly this level is non linear so there is no practical objective when you start out. You begin by unfencing parts of the course using switches - use this time to learn your way around the course, but rememeber that it will change as each switch are flicked. This itself will take around 5 minutes. Next, you will find that the exit is in a remote part of the course and appears to be accessible only via a teleport - That's what you will believe anyway. Then you find a whole bunch of coloured doors and must find the keys to access this area. But as you will see there are different ways in, and you will only have 5 keys. So which way is the correct way? Is there a correct way? Or is it all just a red herring? Despite the difficulty, it wasn't frustrating at all which I might have expected, but I must admit that slipping down the exit was very rewarding. You will find that this level grants you the ability to steadily raise your score to infinity, but it's not worth the effort. Game on...
15 Fragile Action ? ? I can't do this one. I get trapped in the pickaxe room. I can't work out what I'm doing wrong. Might it be a disk protection thing? I mean... It can't possibly be my mistake can it? A man of my genius. Strangely though, in my notes I made in 1990 about the game, I seemed to have missed this level out then aswell.
16 Air Fortress 3 8 minutes Continuing the theme of interestingly shaped maps that we first saw with 'Geometric', and 'Try The Tree', this time we're rolling around onboard an aircraft, and incidentally we're back to the popular linear formula again. So for a quick pun let's call it a "linear air track" The level follows a format commonly found in puzzle games and what I would classify as a fun level - something relatively easy amidst these recent taxing ones just to give us a breather. It has a similar feel to some of the early levels, eg: Silent Moving (3) and Geometric (6) in particular. You do still need your wits about you however as it is easy to miss collecting some essential keys or upgrades by running onto conveyors of arrows with no way back. But on the plus side there's no lengthy open platforms to tiptoe across or hanging ice shelves or stuff like that. The main difficulty here is the abundance of hazards on the course which you MUST take care to minimise your exposure to because they are potent. The graphics set is the same as in 15. My advice here is to proceed steadily and to take care. Use the timings of the hazards wisely. All those hazards almost got this a difficulty rating of 4.
17 Open And Close 4 13 minutes Awww, were back to the graphics set of level 1, and that old music too. What Happy Feelings they are. We're going linear once again, but from the outset we can see that this place is overloaded with hazards. So much so that simply being careful might not be enough and full steam ahead might count for something! It is for this reason and the fact that it is fairly lengthy that I give it a difficulty rating of 4. The collecting/using element of the level is very straight forward - all level one stuff. The large room with the eyes is the biggest bane. Get beyond this without knocking your energy down past 1/2 and you're doing well. Then there's the traction over the ice which you only just have enough time for, so don't waste it, or you'll be sorry. There's nothing more stressful than losing your traction midway through an ice maze. Do remember that! Overall it is a moderately interesting level - the quirk being on the top platform where we are led along a ledge around the gem room that we will enter once we trundle around to the other side.
18 Running Man 3 6 minutes We see the ledge walking game continue as we have a whole level where we go around the edge, but occasionally venturing inside for shortcuts or whatever. We are against the clock too, with just 7 short minutes. It takes me just over 5 minutes to get around so there isn't much spare time for picking up points. When you play this level you are the Running Man! When you get to the exit, take a look at the map and see where you've gone. Difficulty level is a 3 because the pressure of the time limit can make one careless. I don't personally like this one, and I didn't think much to the film either.
19 Helping Hand 4 14 minutes The difficulties here all lie in the latter half. The distinguishing feature on this level is the large messy enclosure of pits and ice. Particularly fiendish is the exit hole surrounded by outward pointing arrows on a small exposed platform. It took me a few attempts without falling off. The level also features something which I had thought about myself - a seemingly random mixture of pithole and platform squares which you have to cross with so many pickaxes - but less than you need to go in a straight line. You choose which hole to fill and slowly work your way through. It was nice to see it. Overall though the level is a bit boring, or it might just be me getting tired after all this gaming. I hope that the next one is a little more original.
20 Your Choice 2 7 minutes 20 levels. We're veterans now. Old age stuff. Pensioners and all that... "Pick it up", the woman says, "It's money with your name on it." You begin here by picking up your pension credits, and then you can choose what to buy and there's all sorts of stuff: some bargains, some not so good. Let us focus instead upon these civil liberties that we are now enjoying - We can choose what to buy. But before you all mark your ballot papers and vote the FORA in again, note in the small print that this pledge is an act of good will, and is true for one level only. A simple case of electioneering? Furthermore, you can't just buy what you want, you've got to buy the right things. Your freedom is an illusion. So don't be fooled - rip up your ballot papers and join the anarchists. You will need to buy lots of cheap pickaxes to build a pathway southeast. Save some money (500) because you will need a wrecking ball when you're down there. Once inside, it is fairly straight forward. Just go careful on the open tracks.
21 Push+Fall 2 6 minutes I've had a sleep so I'm all refreshed for this one. It's a nice easy one and there's no keys in sight. There is something that you might not have seen before, unless you got to the secret area in level 7 that is... they are stepping stones. They look like little mines and are found on special grooved platform squares which form a rectangular lattice of grooves. You can nudge the stepping stones around the lattice and if they fall off the edge they turn into these special platform square themselves thus making a bridge. There are only a few of them here - they're all together, and it is simple enough as you have one more than you actually need, but your work is slightly hindered by a nearby fan. After this, you have the task of navigating one rather long open track. You should be used to doing this by now, and it isn't difficult - just take you time and use little joystick taps as you approach the turnings.
22 Riddle Rooms 2 25-30 minutes What a great level! It's a long one, but so enjoyable. The arena is partitioned into an innner and outer zone. The inner zone is defined and itself subdivided into quarters by these 8 tubes that all come together at the starting point. You first of all must get to the outer zone, fiddle around with some stuff and pick things up until your red key stocks are very high, then... Oh I don't want to give it all away - It'd spoil your fun. But let me just say that there's no tedious stuff, no need for careful joystick control or precision, and you're very unlikely to get killed. It's just good old fashioned rockin-and-a-rollin. Play me, play me!
23 Disk Access 3 14 minutes The map is shaped like a diskette and one of the rooms is ice filled with the writing rock'n'roll on it, supposed to be a disk label. Go careful in this room because it is possible to get stuck in an inescapable place by the fan. .The ring in the middle of the disk is there too - this is a circle of ice and water that you must circumscribe. We've seen the likes of this all before. It's the same old motions. Moderate difficulty, and low-moderatly interesting. But then it didn't stand a chance after the Riddle Rooms did it?
24 Skating Rink 5 14 minutes We're into the high level numbers now, and we're three-quarters of the way through the whole game, so what happens from here on should be difficult, and ideally these later levels should be able to challenge us for weeks if the game is to have 'lasting appeal'. But the difficulty shouldn't come all at once, so what happens in the next three levels is crucial. For level 24, we see that the title is skating rink, so we expect ice and lots of it. This is a 14 minute timed game on level 3's green/orange/purple colour theme. Well let's see... There is plenty of ice, and the game starts promising, but then goes stupid with magnets and fans while you are trying to work your way across trecherous open platforms. One of these required about 20 tries using gamesaves, and the solution is not something that is learned - you're just lucky if you make it. There shouldn't be these kind of risks in the game and I am disappointed. Overall, the enjoyment is low, difficulty is hard. The level is a frustration that only obsession will lead you to complete it.
25 Arrow Action 5
26 Don't Panic 5
27 Radiation 4
28 Think Twice 5
29 Free Fall 4
30 Rollercoaster 5
31 Crazy Dreams 6
32 Castle Of Doom 6
33 Bonus Round 1 6 minutes This is the bonus level that you get to from level 1. It doesn't get any more linear than this. There is one long bounded path to follow with gems to pick up along the way. To hinder your progress along the path there are lots of fans that can make some turnings awkward, and midway through there is a U turn that needs to be performed on ice, with a fan working against you, and two collapsing platform squares thrown in too. This is the place that you are most likely to get killed. At the end, there is a room full of exits, on the far side of which are some gems with a high points value. To get these, you must avoid falling into the exits. This is more difficult than crossing open platforms.
Graphics : 9
Sound : 8
Gameplay : 8
Overall : 8