Your Sinclair1st October 1989
Published in Your Sinclair #46
Gilbert: Escape From Drill
Gilbert is of course Gilbert The Alien, that noticeably snot-tinged impersonator of football commentators and general loudmouth. And Drill is his home planet - not too nice a place by the impression you get from this game.
You see, his fellow Drillians are sufficiently browned off with Gilbo (what with his incessant bragging and rabbiting, natch-o) that they aren't letting him go back to Earth to record another series of his programme. You'd have thought they'd be glad to be shot of him if that were the case, wouldn't you? But nevertheless, the Millenium Dustbin, his trusty spacecraft, has had several important bits (even the khazi) removed and hidden around the main city (wouldn't it be nice if all cities were like Milton Keynes?) How can we get them back for him?
'Tis simple, old bean. For the Drillians may be a dreary lot (and judging by the game's graphics, their architecture leaves something to be desired too) but they're at least sporting. So in the various Milk Bars dotted around the city (they get drunk on milk?), there are video games for Gilbert to play. Should he play one successfully, he gets a clue to the whereabouts of the missing khazi and all the other bits. Your task, then, is to find these Milk bars and play the vid games to the best of your capability. And it's not as easy as it sounds.
For one thing, you've got loads of nasties chasing you around. These can be 'snotted' at (Gilbert has capacious quantities of snot to fire at them, rather than a handkerchief like everybody else), which is a touch better than letting them hit you. 'Cos you've got 24 hours in which to solve all the various problems (not real-time, don't worry) and evey time you're hit, you're docked a few minutes. Worse, if you fail at one of the video games, you lose a full hour.
You can of course run out of snot - even Gilbert's nasal passages have their limitations - but if so, you can miraculously fill up by visiting a Milk Bar (is it on draught or in bottles?). If you snot away enough nasties on a particular screen you'll see a 'hoverjelly' appear, which if successfully snotted (and it's not easy by any means) will drop down an item of food for you to pick up. This can be one of two things, a can of beans, which when consumed gives Gilbert such a bad attack of the wind that he can float over the landscape, or a piece of cake which brings him back to earth again. He can carry up to four items, although to be honest you won't need these that often.
A good piece of advice is to make a map. Those Drillian streets are labyrinthine in the extreme, and you'll get nowhere if you don't know where you are. As for the vid games, well, they're surprisingly challenging. One is the old joke People Invaders (you're an alien, remember?), in which you play a Space Invaders game but shoot people instead of nasties. It's harder than the original. Then there's Sprout Wars, in which you have to shoot a nasty that's terrorising some harmless little sprouts. The trick here is that you have two guns, one shooting horizontally and one vertically, and they shoot one after the other - so you have to remember which one is shooting next if you're not to zap one of the sprouts by mistake. Brain Drain I never managed to find in my travels around Drill, but I did catch Greed, a fine little puzzle game whose subtleties are often too hard to work out in a hurry (which is what you need to do if you're going to solve it successfully). Sadly the Speccy version has no room for the final game, Snot Fight At The OK Corral, although I suspect that no game, however brilliant, could every quite live up to that title.
Should you fail at one of the sub-games, you can't have another go at it straightaway - you have to go and attempt another one first. There's a lot of running around, then, so if that's your bag, this is your game. It's alright, actually, this. For once, a game with a character actually uses that character in a reasonably imaginative way, so that you're not left with the sneaking suspicion that the game was written first and the character tacked on afterwards as an afterthought. It's fast, it's challenging, it's very silly, and I liked it. And it's certainly the first 'snot 'em up' I've ever played...
Gilbert hits the Speccy with a suitably snot-packed epic which will keep all but the most hardened gamesters satisfied. "Interesting... very interesting!"