Amstrad Computer User1st May 1986
Published in Amstrad Computer User #18
Frankie Goes To Hollywood
I know there will be those who disagree but I can't help thinking that Frankie Goes To Hollywood were very much a one hit wonder - where are they now?
So, at first sight, it seems that the new game from Ocean has rather missed the crest of the wave of euphoria surrounding the group. I don't think this is going to be a major problem though. The game is just so good that it doesn't need a tie-in with an outdated pop group - I'm sure it will sell on its own merits. The consensus of opinion among people in our office when first looking at the game was - "Yeah, so what's so great about it"? But anyone who takes a little time out to actually play the game will soon find that far from being the dull game its initial appearance might suggest, Frankie is full of interest, with new things to be found around every corner. "But what's the object of the game?" I hear you groan. Well, ultimately the aim is to get to the centre of the pleasure dome. But it ain't gonna be easy there are many tasks to be completed before you achieve this.
Once loaded - it's OK Simon, I'm not going to moan about Ocean's diabolical loader this time (Thanks. Ed) - you find yourself on the road outside a pretty ordinary looking row of terraced houses. Your character takes the form of a rather non-descript, featureless teddy boy lookalike. He can be controlled left and right with a joystick or the keyboard (though using a joystick is infinitely preferable). He can also enter the houses by lining him up in front of the door and pushing the joystick forward. It is sometimes a bit tricky to line him up.
Once into the hallway, you will see two or three doors leading off to the front room and kitchen of each house. There may also be a cupboard with a useful piece of clothing. As you move about you can point at objects by a combination of joystick movement and pressing the fire button. Pointing at a chest or cupboard, for instance, will cause a window to expand from the centre to fill the playing area of the screen. Inside will be found lots of useful objects. Eight objects may be carried at any one time.
The houses are full of furniture and utilitarian household goods - radios, food mixers, paintings and so on. You may find that pointing at one of these opens up a new type of window.
This is one of the entrances to the pleasure dome which consists of eight completely different but highly addictive arcade type games.
For example, in one game you must shoot a number of heads as they pop up before you. In another, you must, bounce a moving symbol off your body to deflect it on to a flashing spark.
Success in anything and everything in the whole game rewards you with addition to one or more of your four aspects of personality shown with bar graphs at the side of the screen. When they all reach the top. each in turn spells one of the letters of the word BANG.
You also accrue pleasure points and are rated as a percentage of a "real person". Achieving 99 per cent is the ultimate goal as this will allow access to the centre of the pleasure dome. People who are 100 per cent real obviously don't play computer games.
While in any of the games within the pleasure dome doors are to be found about the place. Going through one of these takes you into the corridors of power, a three dimensional maze that connects the various aspects of the game. The doors found in this maze either lead to one of the arcade type games or to one of the rooms back on the housing estate. There are more than just the initial line of four houses to be found. travel between the groups of four is made through one of the doors you find in the houses.
There are so many things to do, games to play and problems to solve that there just isn't room to even list them here.
Besides, I wouldn't want to spoil any of the puzzles for you. One thing I can tell you about is the murder you will have to solve. Entering a particular sitting room you will find a body sprawled across the floor. You are told to find the clues and once you've made your mind up return to this same room to identify the killer.
From then on, entering most rooms will also produce a clue associated with that room. The whole concept is very similar to a game of Cluedo, where clues are given one by one and you must cross-reference the various hits of information until you can finger a suspect. You then return to the scene of the crime. A window opens up, you step in and are then presented with a list of all the suspects.
Picking the correct one boosts your pleasure points and will also produce the remark "Well done Sherlock". Failure, unfortunately means you must restart the game you don't get a second chance - so you must be pretty certain of your suspect. As far as I can tell, the murderer and clues are jumbled up each time the game is played so it won't lose its appeal after the first time you solve it.
I can't even begin to tell you how good I think this game is - as a rather cynical games reviewer I am lucky if a game holds my interest for more than a couple of hours. But this game might keep me going for weeks as there is just so much to do. There is quite a lot of brain work involved, to solve the Cluedo mystery, work out which objects go where, the way to play each of the eight arcade sections and map the 3D maze section to name but a few.
I guess that this game may appeal to the sort of person who likes both arcade and adventure type games rather than the mindless joystick blaster type or the confirmed Wizard of Betelgeuse complete with gold coins and goblin. Though, having said that, I must say that I fall into the first of these categories and I thought the game was brilliant.
It would have been nice if a little more detail could have been afforded to our hero and the minor problem of lining up for door ways can be just a teensy bit niggling. However, overall, I think this game must get a definite 11 out of 10.