It's A Knockout

Author: Ben Stone
Publisher: Ocean
Machine: Spectrum 48K/128K

Published in Crash #37

It's a Knockout

Six European countries compete in the wacky events that make up It's a Knockout, the TV show that was all the rage years ago. Now Ocean bring a taste of the action to your computer screen in another TV tie-in.

Teams play against one another in five events and the computer calls on each country in turn to compete against the clock - a horizontal bar in the status area shows the time remaining in the current game. The computer ads as 'master of ceremonies', updating the scoreboard as necessary, calling teams into the arena to attempt events, and playing for countries that have not been allocated to a human player. A marathon game is played by all the countries and the computer chooses when a team should compete in this sixth event.

Fun with food initiates the contest in Flying Flans, played in a room divided by a wall. The computer controls a pair of flan-flingers who use a see-saw on the left of the screen to propel flans into the air. You control a waiter on the other side of the wall and the aim is to catch the airborne puds by moving the waiter so they land on his tray. As flans are dropped, the floor gets slippery and the waiter starts to lose his tooting.

It's A Knockout

Then it's from the dining room to the desert for Harlem Hoppers. Balls are rolled down a camel's back zooming over the hump before shooting into the air as they leave the camel's tail. The contestant has to run and catch the balls, but is attached to a strong piece of elastic anchored to the left of the screen which restricts movement. To make life a little more awkward, the ground had been well greased.

Members of your team are all at sea for Titanic Drop. They are standing on the bow of a ship and take it in turns to use a pulley and slide down an angled rope. To score points they must let go of the rope at the right moment and land in the middle of one of four rubber rings floating in the water.

Diet of Worms sees your character dressed in a chicken suit, romping around a green field pecking at worms that peek through the grass. Worms must be collected and placed in a container at the foot of the screen.

It's A Knockout

The final event places you in competition with a computer controlled runner on a split-screen horizontally-scrolling obstacle course. Walls, water troughs and giant rolling balls have to be negotiated and speed kept up by frantic key pounding or joystick waggling.

In the marathon, Bronte Bash, you are a crane operator controlling a ton weight which moves horizontally along the sky above a row of trapdoors. The weight is dropped by pressing and holding fire, and every so often a dinosaur pops his head out of a trapdoor selected at random. The idea is to bop the monster on the head before it disappears. As the game progresses the dinosaurs get cannier, remaining above ground for shorter and shorter periods of time.


Control keys: Q-P up; A-ENTER down; CAPS, C, N left; Z. V, M right; X, B, SYM SHIFT fire
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2
Use of colour a bit garish
Graphics: weak animation; uninspired
Sound: blippy spot effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: seven


It's A Knockout

This really is the pits. The gameplay is about as compelling as watching paint dry. The graphics are awful: there's lots of colour clash and the characters are badly drawn and appallingly animated. The sound is also below average - there are no tunes and the effects are dodgy. I'd keep well away from this if I was you. Nobody deserves to waste their money on dross like this.


Thank goodness Ocean haven't made a complete hash of this game - but it still isn't that good. I reckon the graphics are fairly well done-each screen contains loads of colour. At least the events are like the stupid things that happened in that awful TV programme. The sound is very poor, and doesn't add any atmosphere - where's Stuart Hall's idiotic cackling? I feel that the game is too short to be any fun playing, and the events don't involve much work to get any kind of score. It's a Knockout may appeal to the younger market, but most people will find it very shallow and boring.


Well. Games Without Frontiers (Jeux Sans Frontiers) by Peter Gabriel is definitely the song to play this to. There are major differences between record, TV programme and game. The record is superb. The TV programme was bearable. The game is dire. The feel of the game is decidedly dodgy - it doesn't respond to the controls consistently, and when you add it all up there's not much depth to It's A Knockout. Ocean's effort is pretty grim - and I can't understand why the company that managed to turn out decent simulations like the two Daley Thompson games should produce this.

Ben StonePaul SumnerMike Dunn

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