Sinclair User27th August 1989
Published in Sinclair User #93
Spherical is like a cross between Manic Miner and Mousetrap. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. It involves a wizard (or two) pegging around a huge number of screens, constructing more and more clever ways to steer the path of a rolling ball into a strategically placed box at the bottom of the screen.
Let me explain. Each screen features a counter. The second the screen appears, the counter will, er, begin to count down. When it reaches zero, a big ball somewhere in the top region of the screen will be released from its starting position and will fall or roll - depending on its surroundings - down the screen. It's essential to use this lead time effectively. While the easy, early screens will allow you to dither around a bit, and the ball will roll easily no matter what you do, the later levels will put a sneaky trap right in front of the ball and it you're not quick enough to get it, you're stuffed.
Affecting the descent of the ball is far from complicated, but it can be bloody difficult. Each wizard has at his disposal an infinite number of building blocks. He can put them anywhere except immediately below him. The trick is to set the blocks in a pattern so as to allow the ball either a complete run into the target box or set up a series of containment areas and gradually channel the ball the right way.
This all sounds a bit heavy going and dull, doesn't it? Well, it's not as bad as all that. It certainly has the appeal of puzzley things. Mind you, it's the sort of appeal that can fade pretty sharpish.
Spherical looks pretty poor for the first twenty screens or so, comprising pretty tiny sprites and not an abundance of swooshy animation. While there is colour all around, nothing seems especially well drawn.
Later on, however, the graphics seem to have come from another dimension entirely. There are huge dragons and beasts and statues and structures; all beautifully drawn and tricky to negotiate.
Remember the Mirrorsoft game, Tetris? Well, it's got exactly the same grab factor as that.
There are clusters of jewels hanging in the air. Each awards you bonus points.
Movement around the screen involves bouncing off blocks (whether already in position or laid by yourself).
And that's your lot. The further you get. the more outrageously tricky the screen layouts become and the tougher it is to stop the ball from becoming thoroughly trapped in a crevice. If you're desperately keen on action-puzzle solving, then this is one for you. If you're after anything else, forget it.
"Action" Puzzling. Flawed but interesting.