The first unusual thing about this game is that it isn't a British program. Authors Paco & Paco are Spanish and Quicksilva are hoping for more games from them in the future. That shouldn't be any problem as far as popularity goes - Bugaboo The Flea is going to be a big hit. Not only is it beautifully drawn and animated, but the colours on the screen are as burningly bright as has ever been seen on the Spectrum.
This Is What You Do
Quicksilva, as usual, provide you with a charming and utterly irrelevant story on the inlay, but all the controls are indicated once the program runs. You are a Bugaboo, a harmless flea of this parish, only you're a long way from home. The Walt Disney-like film intro shows Bugaboo, jumping here and there over a highly coloured alien terrain and for all I know, humming the 'Busy Bee' song to himself, when all of a sudden he jumps down this narrow fissure in the ground, and down, and down, and down. It's all quite breathtaking. Eventually he reaches the bottom of the gorge and the game begins in earnest.
You must now get Bugaboo out of the gorge and back to the surface. One reviewer says in his notes that you score points according to the time it takes you to do this, but I found the game much too engaging to be bothered about a small thing like points!
The control keys are simplicity itself; 1 = hop left, 0 = hop right. At the bottom of the screen is a bar indicating strength of hop. When you depress the desired direction key, Bugaboo turns in that direction. Then you release the key when the indicator is at the desired strength and Bugaboo leaps away. This could all be very easy, but the line of light, which flashes up the strength of indicator, does so very fast and it's extremely difficult to judge exactly the correct moment. The second you release the jump key it freezes the indicator to show you how wrong you were...
Another difficulty is the design of the alien gorge, which is a series of overhanging ledges, covered in mushrooms and foliage. Unless the flea lands safely on a higher ledge, he just keeps falling until he reaches the floor again. A further hazard is a yellow flying dragon which has a liking for fleas. At first this appalling monster leaves you alone, but after a few minutes he enters and gobbles you up. End of life. But you can start again immediately, whereupon he reappears, each time sooner than the last, so you've got less and less time to get to the top. Aborting the game offers the option of starting afresh, in which case the yellow meanie stays away for longer.
As the playing area is considerably greater than the screen you can scroll left/right or up/down by using the cursor keys in addition to hopping left to right. The scrolling is very smooth. The design and animation of Bugaboo is absolutely excellent, and so is that of the background. It is quite easy to forget that you are actually watching a picture generated by your Spectrum.
I think that, together with Ant Attack, Quicksilva have come up with the two best games of 1983, and as far as arcade games for the Spectrum go, they could well be the best of 1984 too.
The keys are well positioned and easy to use. The use of colour is very good, and the sound is some of the best I've heard recently.
Bugaboo is a high quality arcade standard game, and it's highly addictive too. This game will definitely be a top seller!
The colourful graphics are an easy match for Manic Miner. It's a delight to play and mind-blowingly frustrating.