Your Sinclair1st January 1992
Published in Your Sinclair #73
Right. Like I've always said, I don't have time for watching TV or any of that nonsense. So these Australian soaps pass me by completely. Fair enough, you might say, but now I've got to review a game of one! Help!
Okay, in this Neighbours game, Mrs Jason Mangel (played by Crag Charles) is both Home And Away in Cell Block H when he asks Kylie Sullivan (a Young Flying Doctor with Sons And Daughters) getting in some Country Practice near Sydney, to marry him. A tad flimsy, one might say.
Actually, its all a big pretence. I admit it, I watch Neighbours. And that confusion above was actually simulated. So if you'll allow me to be serious for a moment, you'll find out exactly what Neighbours - the game is about.
You play Scott Robinson and his skateboard, the two are inseparable. (Who? Ed) You know, the one who was played by our beloved Jase. (Oh, him. Ed) You have to pick a character to race against around the streets of Erinsborough. Typically, your racing partner will be someone who used to be in the show, but has since left or been killed.
If you're feeling rather more confident, you can pick up to four other bods to try and beat. The trouble here is that if you're behind them, they get in the way, and if you're in front, they catch up and then get in the way.
Yes, you are. But you still need to swing the odds in your favour. You've got two skateboards hanging in your garage. One is your everyday kind of board and the other one's a bit speedier. The normal one is the more controllable, so it should see you to the end of the race, but it isn't especially quick. The main problem with the speedy one is that is a bit hard to master. Not only is it dangerously speedy, but it slides round the corners with all the grace of an elephant on a bob-sleigh. So which do you go for? It's a bit of a dilemma, as I'm sure you'll agree.
When you start up the game you've got to pick an obstacle level, you've got a choice of three ranging from easy to, erm, hard. The easy one has a few people walking in the way, along with the odd bollard. The hardest is nigh-on impossible, with hundreds of Mrs Mangels getting under your wheels.
Zeppelin have gone for an isometric 3D view of the proceedings. This looks pretty good but makes it hard to control your skateboard. You have to pull down to move in a diagonal direction, rather than straight down. No, you have to move diagonally to pull down and across, no you pull across from diagonal to diagonal... oh I don't know how you do it.
I do know that if you hold down the fire button you get a huge burst of speed. Useful for getting through the pack as you wiggle vainly through the diagonals.
Has It Got That Annoying Theme Tune?
Well, no. It has another tune which, although totally unlike the Neighbours one, is equally as annoying. It goes dum-dee-dee-dee-diddle-dee. Or something like that. In fact it's a little like Elgar's Enigma Variations, which go sort of dum-pom-tiddle-iddle-pom-pim.
Right, well to sum up Neighbours, it's a rather entertaining 3D scroller with a quirky control system and the most frustrating obstacles to get round ever. If you're the sort of bod who never gives up until you've beaten a game, you'll have to work hard at the four levels in Neighbours. In fact, I'll be very surprised if you don't chew your joystick to bits before you get that far.
The other thing is that nearly all the characters in the game have actually left the show. If you're a fan of the series as it is now, you might be a bit miffed by this. Perhaps Zeppelin could release weekly expansion packs, keeping us up to date with the plot twists. Or perhaps not.
Yes. I enjoyed Neighbours. Oh, sure, it's a bit crap. The pictures of the stars which appear on the monitors are perfectly dreadful and completely unrecognisable. But then again, so are most of the cast. So I suppose it's okay. But playability is good, graphics are smooth and, cos it's tough, there's plenty of mileage in it. So it's er, beaut, ripper, bonzer and um, arvo.
It made my eyes go a bit funny, but it's a fun (and tricky) 3D Aussie soap-related scroller.