Sinclair User27th August 1989
Published in Sinclair User #93
Purple Saturn Day
Alions-nous! C'est la nouvelle jeux au Exxos, les joli garcons Francais... oh sorry. I Keep forgetting not everyone is as cosmopolitan as the mighty SU staff, who can play games with instructions in French! Still, maybe we should have tried it in English too; phrases like "On this day, they come to vanquish you, friend!" suggest that the instructions alone would have been a laugh a minute.
Like many other French titles, Purple Saturn Day looks marvellous, but it's annoyingly difficult to play and unnecessarily obscure. Designed by the team behind the mind-boggling Captain Blood, PSD is in fact a sort of galactic Olympics: the Purple Saturn Day of the title being a regular astronomical conjunction which marks the start of the Games. So why didn't , they just call it Galactic Olympics, eh?
Anyoldhow, the aim is to compete in four events against seven alien species. The eight competitors are divided into four pairs, and the winners of the quarter-finals go into the semi-finals, the overall winner getting a galactic snog with the Purple Saturn Queen, who probably looks like an inside-out hedgehog, but we don't know for sure, not having managed to win yet.
The screens on which you choose your alien team mates according to their agility, mental powers, aggression and other characteristics, is admirably detailed. Also truly bon are the intro screens for each of the four events, which you can play in any order you want.
Ring Pursuit is a 3-D race game: speed through the asteroid belt, avoiding obstacles, taking the correct course left or right at coloured markers, and knocking your opponent off course. There's no time limit, but if you stay ahead you score more points. This game is vary fast and exciting, and is the most easily grasped of the events.
Tronic Slider is a sort of 3-D billiards in which you have to chase down energy balls, again bashing your opponent to shake his balls loose, fnar.
Brain Bowler is very odd. Hovering over a maze-like electronic map of an alien brain, you have to redirect moving energy sparks into your collector by hitting switches at the right moment. Extremely fiddly and irritating, Brain Bowler is likely to make you clench your teeth with sheer frustration rather than excitement. The last game, Time Jump, is pretty abstract; the aim is to move through time by catching energy sparks which dart across the screen. When you have sufficient power you hold down the fire button to build up time energy, then release it to jump... weird psychedelic efffects fill the screen, and you wonder whether you are actually achieving anything. Completely baffling, this one.
Purple Saturn Day is certainly different, and if you like to see the Spectrum pushed to the graphical limit, this is the one for you. But if you ask me (and let's face it, what else am I paid for), not enough thought has gone into the gameplay.
Just like French girls, lovely to look at but a bit funny to play with.