Your Sinclair1st August 1991
Published in Your Sinclair #68
Tsk. Those Russians, eh? No sooner do they become all friendly and glasnosty, than they drop Tetris on us. And Tetris, as we all know, is the biggest cause of late nights, headaches and damaged joysticks ever. Worse still, it now seems as if the world, his wife, his two daughters and their pet Labrador 'Ludo' are all writing games with that 'addictive puzzle arcade-type element'. And oh what a coincidence! Here comes one now!
It's called Stack Up, and it works a weeny bit like this. Coloured squares fall from the top of the screen, three in a line. You can't twist the round, like Tetris, but you can alter the order of the colours. They build up at the bottom, and the idea is to try and match up the colours falling with those below, to produce lines of three or more (which can be diagonal, horizontal or vertical). If you do this, the lines disappear; if you don't, the screen will fill up and you'll be staring complete failure right in the face. So, nothing too different from the Big T so far, just a few nifty little twists.
The game is divided into levels, so even if you're not doing well you can often just hang in there until you get to the next level (where you can start afresh). The later levels have lots of fiendish features, like blank blocks which can't be removed, forcing you to make your coloured lines around them. As you get further up the levels, you start to get random coloured blocks appearing (usually where you least want them). Oh, and in case you're thinking that it all sounds rather easy-peasy, the game itself gets faster and faster as well. (Of course.)Right. That's enough technical, difficult-to-explain stuff. If you really want to know how it all works, go out and buy it. All you need to know is that Stack Up is amazingly good fun to play. Were not talking earth-shaking originality here by any means. Zeppelin have obviously taken a long hard look at Tetris, and quite unashamedly decided to produce a game in exactly the same mould. But where it comes up trumps is in the way they've retained the same addictive quality, but managed to put a facelift on it with the new features. The difficulty level for example is set just about right (pretty important for games like this), and the graphics, while extremely straightforward, are really bright and crisp, and blaze off the screen in nice primary colours. It really is the biz.
Hmm. And there isn't a lot else to say about it. Except that if you're even the slightest bit interested in having a go at a puzzle game, then smash that stupid blue piggy-bank you got on your eighth birthday (and that you're rather ashamed of), collect all the half-pennies which you've been putting in ti (even though they're no longer legally accepted) and rush down to your local software emporium to get a copy of Stack Up immediately. If the man hasn't got one, insist that he telephones the distributor to get one sent as soon as possible. (But don't forget to say please.)
A Tetris rip-off, but a colourful, addictive and extremely entertaining one. (And dirt cheap too.)