Amstrad Action1st May 1986
Published in Amstrad Action #8
Frankie Goes To Hollywood
The game doesn't have a lot to do with the group but identifies well with their image. There are all sorts of weird elements providing plenty of variety to the action but nothing controversial - except for the now ageing recording of "Relax" on the B side of the tape.
The game begins in Mundanesville where your undetailed and badly animated character can wander through streets of boring terraced houses. These are shown in a sort of 3D view but it has very little depth on the screen. Each house contains two or three rooms with some mundane furniture, making every house look nearly the same and instilling you with a feeling of suburban boredom. Having lulled you into a sense of security and general disinterest, the game starts to spring its surprises.
By searching the rooms and furniture objects can be discovered, up to eight of which can be carried at once. These may not have any immediately apparent use but as more of the game is discovered the need for flak jackets, pleasure pills and wedding rings will become clear. They can be used in any location but will disappear even if you use them where they are of no real use.
Having become familiar with the surroundings you can start to work towards the main aim of the game, which is - in authentic eighties style to become a complete person. To do this you have to score 99,000 pleasure points and get four bar charts to their highest point. This will allow you to enter the heart of the Pleasure Dome where... well, you'll have to find out for yourselves. The four charts are labelled with a symbol and are boosted by completing particular tasks within the game. When they reach the top they cause a letter to appear, the four of which spell the word BANG.
Some tasks can be completed in Mundanesville but most of them take place on single screens of a surreal nature. The screens can be accessed by going through particular doors or by finding other locations where they can be directly entered. They appear as windows in the screen and walking into them will take you to that location. This window technique is one of the best aspects of the game and is a novel feature.
Each screen is a simple arcade-typo game which may consist of a challenge of skill, reflexes or puzzling. To win, the player will have to complete all of them. Another way of getting between these screens is through the corridors of power, a labyrinth in which it is easy to get lost.One other major feature of the game is a murder mystery in Mundanesville which you have to solve. You have to find the killer by finding 23 pieces of information that will lead to the killer's identity. When you think you know who it is you can accuse the suspect back at the scene of the crime. Get it wrong, though, and you will return to the start of the game.
The graphics are generally a little disappointing, particularly the main character, but this is made up for by the pleasant rendition of "Two Tribes" throughout the game and the very addictive gameplay. As more and more elements of the game are discovered it's very difficult to stop trying to be a real person and you could find yourself playing for many hours at a time.
I never thought I'd do what Frankie Say, but this game almost convinced me. It's a very neat concept and the goal of becoming a real person is one which will appeal to many of us who worry about our identities. The graphics are pretty naff but don't really detract too much from the game.
Tons of variety, sure enough, so it's a shame about the miserable animation. It's certainly a clever idea, a graphic adventure which throws you into arcade sequences every so often - but the arcade action is pretty limited. A must for anyone who wants a really original adventure - otherwise, it's a bit disappointing.
Green Screen View
That animation really starts to drag, with no colour to distract you. Still, it makes Mundanesville good and mundane.
P. Many different elements and arcade sequences.
P. A lot of depth to the game with new discoveries all the time.
P. Many objects and puzzles.
P. Good mix of arcade games and puzzling.
P. Nice Two Tribes music.
N. Graphics are disappointing - particularly the main character.
N. You may have difficulty grasping one or two of the concepts involved.