Contraption (Icon) Review | The Micro User - Everygamegoing

The Micro User

By Icon
BBC Model B

Published in The Micro User 3.07

It's better than Frak

During the mid-part of 1984, a game called Frak took the BBC Micro world by storm. Its strength was its unique cartoonstyle graphics.

Icon Software has just released Contraption, which employs the use of almost identical graphics - but these are combined with an even better game.

For those of you who were in Outer Mongolia at the time and missed out on Frak, I should explain that the characters in the game were very large, very detailed, and all outlined in black. This gave them a cartoon-style appearance.


In Contraption, the detail and the black outline have been, retained but the characters are somewhat smaller.

This, plus the lack of a scrolling background, has eliminated the very noticeable slowing-up of the action which marred Frak.

To refer to Contraption as a ladders-and-levels game seems somewhat inadequate as it has been programmed so professionally.


The aim of the game is to manoeuvre the little man around the screen collecting apples.

Having collected his quota he can head for the exit door which is present on each screen.

Each of the screens consists of several platforms which are connected by lifts and dissolving floors. The latter can only support the character's weight for a short time before he falls through to his death.


The controls for the game are simple - left, right, and jump.

Planning a safe route around the screen, however, is not. A badly-planned route can mean an untimely death through contact with one of the many undesirables which patrol the scene.

Some of the methods required to traverse a seemingly impos sible gap are ingenious. Screen two is an ideal example. Having negotiated the lower half of the screen, you will notice that the apples are all situated on the very top level. Jumping up to this level is quite impossible, so you must investigate the devices which resemble valves from a trumpet moving up and down in sequence.

By walking to the base of one of these valves and then hitting the jump key several times in rapid succession, you will find that the man jumps up on to the top of the valve.

Once in this position you can sit back and relax as the valve tosses the man up into the air. With each bounce he flies higher until he lands on the upper level. Cunning, eh?

Personally I prefer Contraption to Frak. The graphics are just as good, but it has much more variety and some screens are just downright devious.

James Riddell

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