Commodore User


Helter Skelter

Author: Steve Jarratt
Publisher: Audiogenic
Machine: Amiga 500

 
Published in Commodore User #61

Helter Skelter

The title of Audiogenic's latest Amiga release is somewhat misleading, since it has little to do with fairground slides, Beatles lyrics or mass murders (read the book of the same name). Frustration is really the name of the game for this jolly little test of dexterity will probably leave you a gibbering wreck with teethmarks in your joystick (eek!).

Taking control of a bouncing ball, your aim is to progress from screen to screen by eliminating the strange monsters inhabiting the platform-infested landscapes. This is achieved by blatting them on the head with the ball. Sounds simple enough. The problem lies in the fact that you have to remove the creatures in order, as signified by a large arrow pointing at the next one for the chopping block. Should you blat another by mistake, it splits into two smaller monsters who scurry around with added vigour, increasing your hit list by one.

Still sounds simple, doesn't it? Yes, well the real trouble starts in guiding your rubber sphere around the screen. The ball constantly bounces, and its efforts are simply reduced (by pressing Fire on the ascent) or increased (by pressing Fire on the descent). This strange control method takes a good few games to get to grips with, but once mastered doesn't prove too bad. However, the combination of devious platforms, reproducing monsters, a wildly bouncing ball and a 20 second time limit really puts the pressure on!

Helter Skelter

It's not all doom and gloom though: there are a number of useful bonus items that appear on-screen and are collected on contact. These include extra time, energy, and score, plus an extremely useful warp, giving instant access to the next screen.

There are 80 pre-defined landscapes to be cleared, plus 48 screens on which the more imaginative of you may vent your artistic (or masochistic) tendencies by designing your own layouts. There's also a code-access system which enables you to enter the later levels without having to continuously play through those ever-so-familiar early ones.

Hardly the stuff of 16-bit wet dreams, but what is there is very colourful, extremely smooth and easy on the ears. A bit steep at fifteen quid, mind you, but Helter Skelter does provide some entertainment - with a large dose of irritation for good measure.

Steve Jarratt

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