Pssst (Spectrum 16K)

By Mike Gerrard Published In Personal Computer News #018

Bed Of Snails | Objectives | In Play | Verdict | Rating

Bed Of Snails

If Pssst is based on an arcade game then I've regrettably missed it, as I'm sure I'd remember one where, instead of killing aliens, you had to encourage a Thyrgodian Megga Chrisanthodil to grow in your back garden.

Objectives

This amazing plant starts life as a tiny shoot at the bottom of the screen, and your task as Robbie the Robot (who looks more like a blue owl to me) is to keep the garden pests at bay for the few minutes it takes this miraculous flower to grow up and bloom. That may not sound too exciting if you're more used to defending the universe and other simple tasks, but it provides a game that's as challenging and amusing as any I've come across in recent months.

In Play

The plant is growing up the middle of the screen, and in the garden walls on either side are five crevices, in which are tucked three different types of spray cans, one for each of the various pests whose pleasure it is to nibble at your bloom. The instructions describe these as Interstellar Space Slugs, Scuttling Leeches and Menacing Midges, though I'd describe them as snails, bugs and wasps.

First come the snails, crawling out of the empty crevices, and you must discover which spray can despatches these to a snaily celestial bliss. The wrong spray merely stuns them a moment. This part is none too difficult, as Robbie moves about smoothly and speedily, picking up bonus points by helping himself to growbags, watering cans, etc.

Keeping the creatures at bay is his main task, though, as too much nibbling will cause the plant to die, or at least reduce the number of leaves and slow down its growth rate.

The plant could be described as a sunflower when it finally bursts forth, if it wasn't for the fact that it's purple, but once it has bloomed it's back to square one with a new shoot and a new wave of pests.

Progress is impeded by the fact that if they've nothing better to go, the nasties will occasionally have a nibble at you instead of the plant. You do have four lives, and one of the easiest ways of losing them is by going to deposit your spray can on a crevice only to find a pest emerging just as you get there.

Verdict

An excellent and amusing game with a difference, colourful and quick, Pssst should provide a challenge to anyone, even if you don't have green fingers. In fact if you play the game as long as I did, you'll probably end up with red ones from too much bashing the keyboard or joystick.

Scores
Lasting Appeal 4
Playability 5
Use Of Machine 5
Overall 4

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