Your Sinclair

Hocus Focus

Author: Gwyn Hughes
Publisher: Quicksilva
Machine: Spectrum 48K

Published in Your Sinclair #7

Hocus Focus

Here's a snappy little game on the popular photography theme - and what an oddity! At heart it's a platform game but the presentation cleverly disguises the fact - something in its favour 'cos if I see another Jet Set Willy clone somebody will be taking photos of me as they cart me off to the funny farm.

The plot concerns Jeremy, the YOP's punk trainee, who's with Doris from accounts in the darkroom (perhaps it's as well that we're never allowed into the lab to see the exposures involved!) when the Editor shouts 'Hold the Front Page!' Jeremy immediately drops Doris and grabs his Box Brownie to take on the assignment.

His task consists of investigating the subterranean chambers of the Potty Professor (chambers - potty? Suit yourself). There he has to photograph the Mad Doc's inventions that're hidden below Hyde Park (Hyde Park - hidden? Well, it you don't appreciate wit, I won't waste my time), in jars, chests and what look like 1950s TV sets!

Hocus Focus

Camera ready, Jeremy wanders off only to find the vaults are a shocking place (vaults - shocking! Surely you got that one!). Once he locates a hiding place you move to icon control and select Look. You'll then see if there's some hot photo in the pot. If so, you can go to the camera option and it's over in a flash.

The caverns are carefully guarded though, The hidey hole may contain a mutant kleptomaniac that'll steal Jem's film or, if he's not careful, he may bang into a detector device to unleash another vicious freak. This may be fought off with a sword but if he fails in this task, which is highly likely because he first has to select the correct icon, then it's goodbye to the camera again.

One advantage of working in Fleet Street is the endless supply of equipment but to replace his nicked Nikon Jeremy has to return to terra firma, as he does when it's time to develop a film.

Once a film has been processed, and there's no need to finish it before returning, the separate frames must be accurately placed on a plain grid. There's no real test to this though as you get unlimited goes at guessing the positions.

The game's graphic presentation is novel though. At the top is a scrolling speckly landscape and Jeremy's solid figure. It's a rather small window on his world though, dwarfed by the photo screen which you gradually fill, a la Rocky Horror, below it. Either side are frames for individual parts of the picture and icons. It's a novel approach but doesn't have enough content behind it - unless you're into games where the main challenge is beating the monotony.

Gwyn Hughes

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