Sinclair User

Stifflip And Co

Author: Tamara Howard
Publisher: Palace
Machine: Spectrum 48K/128K

Published in Sinclair User #66

Stifflip And Co.

Stifflip & Co. from Palace is set just after the First World War, at a time when the Empire was still strong, when men were men and sheep were frightened, when cricket was the only sport worth mentioning, and Nanny's word was law.

All should be peace and harmony, but there are those who wish to change the order of things, even to the point of altering the balance of a cricket ball. Yes, Count Cameleon, Master of Disguise, has perfected his Rubbertronic Ray, and is out to destroy the natural order of things and undermine the establishment. And it's up to you to stop him.

The game features four characters, anyone of whom may be played by you at any point. Viscount Sebastian Stifflip is the hero, surrounded by his trusty companions, Palmyra Primbottom, Professor Braindeath and Colonel R G Bargie... Each character is equipped with different objects and has different abilities. Palmyra's not too hot when it comes to fighting, so if she gets involved in a bit of a tussle, the best thing to do is swap over and let Stifflip take over.

Stifflip And Co.

Stifflip, the game, is a multi-load affair, but you only get on to the second load if you succeed in getting all four characters to the end of the first. The 48K version has no sound, but the 128K has some wonderfully bizarre effects like monkeys chattering in the background.

It's more of an adventure than anything else, and is played using the icons to represent the usual adventure game commands. The screen is divided roughly into thirds. In the middle are two small pictures, one showing where you are, one showing where you've just been. As you move, the pictures peel off, like pages of a book turning over, the top picture disappears, the bottom picture moves into the top slot and a new picture appears at the bottom. The right hand side of the screen shows the command icons, using daft terms eg Chinwag means talk to or trade with, Fisticuffs means fight, Beetle off means move somewhere else. On the left side are three characters not currently playing.

This is no ordinary adventure. It's an extremely clever, thoroughly outrageous and very sophisticated mickey take of the terribly-British way of life at the beginning of the century.

Stifflip And Co.

And that could well be where it will fall apart. If you've seen old films from that era, and know the banter you're going to find Stifflip very funny. If, on the other hand, you aren't in the slightest bit interested in that sort of 'jolly jape' satire then you might be impressed by the graphics (which are marvellous) and puzzled by the problems themselves. And you'll soon probably get tired with the rather childish in-jokes which run through the game.

I can see how the game could get you like that. However, I found it all great entertainment. It's terrific visually, the puzzles were hard, but not so hard that it's impossible to get anywhere, and Fisticuffs mode proved to be a real laugh. It works like this. Every time one of Count Chameleon's henchmen appears on screen, they will pick a fight. Enter Fisticuffs mode. You then have a choice of left or right punches, white feather (running away) or hitting below the belt (which is very effective) if unsporting. You select the punch you want, wind up the rotating arm in the middle of the screen to build up strength, and aim your punch by positioning a crosshair in the centre of the moving target at the bottom left-hand side of the screen. Press Fire and your punch will be thrown.

Stifflip has got to be worth a look, even if you're not normally a fan of adventures. It's beautifully drawn and great fun to play, but watch out for appalling jokes.

Overall Summary

Visually impressive and entertaining adventure game, well worth a look. The many in-jokes could get a bit tedious though.

Tamara Howard

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