Mountain Panic

Mountain Panic

The best entrepreneurs look for a gap in the market, find it and then, as the business books advise, tell no-one about how they plan to fill it. Homebrew developers might often be well advised to take a leaf out of such books, rather than announcing a project when they've developed little more than a concept. Mountain Panic is even more of an offender than others. A playable first version appeared in 2009 - but the game itself then took five years to stagger to release.

Now finally released by Retro Software (www.retrosoftware.co.uk), Mountain Panic pits you in the role an adventure in the Antarctic. Your quest is to collect four stars to open the portal to the lair of a monster. Until you've done so, you're confined to caverns and mountains all pleasingly rendered in the BBC's highest resolution mode. You can't jump and you're in constant danger of being mauled by the icy wastelands' unkillable, unfriendly inhabitants.

Although you're initially defenceless, you'll quickly find a rope. With careful aiming of this at anything solid (and at a 45 degree angle) you can propel the rope outward and clamber out of danger.

Mountain Panic is quite mesmerising. Your eskimo-looking protagonist is supplied with a generous amount of energy, and the rooms are challenging enough for the exploration to feel that playing the game is exactly that - an exploration.

The only real disappointment is how small it is. There are only about half the number of rooms you'd realistically expect. To be as fair as possible to Retro Software, that is probably the resultant trade-off for using the best BBC screen mode and including the monster Big Boss fight at the end. Precisely because it is so small, you have a high probability of meeting it (the monster) and probably a better-than-average chance of completing the game entirely on your fourth or fifth try.

Mountain Panic costs £6.95 plus P&P and is available on original 5.25" disc.

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