Commodore User1st September 1986
Published in Commodore User #36
I'm completely hooked on Split Personalities. I don't mean mildly addicted. I mean one hundred per cent, absolutely. Can't put the damn thing down.
It's not doing me any good, I know that. After all, I'm a busy Editor, I've got a magazine to get out, game reviewers to chase up, and deadlines to meet.
The game derives its super-addictiveness from an ancient game design first used by puzzle makers in pre-C64 days - pre-computer days for that matter.
The games in question are those little trays of plastic tiles with pictures or letters printed on them. The idea is that you have to slide the tiles around to complete the picture or word.
If you've ever played one of these games, you will know that there is no way you're going to put that thing down until you have solved it, no matter how long it takes.
Split Personalities takes the basic idea and adds random pieces electronic no-go areas, great sound effects and bright colours.
It also adds a time limit - with that now familiar bar chart creeping relentlessly towards zero - as you race to get the last few pieces in place. When your time has almost ran out a bleeper starts to sound - and that's when the real panic begins.
The faces are a mixed bag of politicians, film stars, and the ubiquitous royals - though no royal sprogs, so at least we have to be grateful for that.
You start off with Ronald Reagan followed (as always) by Prime Minister Thatcher, then Neil 'carrot top' Kinnock. When I had assembled the features of the Leader of the Opposition I was dreading David Owen or, worse still, David Steele.
Thankfully the game changes its theme in favour of computer people at this stage in the game, with Sir Clive Sinclair next up, followed by chubby Alan Sugar of Amstrad fame.
The really interesting faces come right at the end as a reward for your perseverance. There's Charles and Di who get bested by Fergie and Andy, Humphrey Bogart and finally the sexiest blonde ever to walk in stilletos - Marilyn Monroe.
I haven't made Marilyn yet, sorry, assembled her, I'm still stuck on Fergie and Andy. I'll get there though, I'll get there.
What makes the game more difficult are all the random pieces that do various things that are not properly explained in the instructions.
The bombs are pretty obvious - if you don't sling them straight out the trap door they will explode, taking one of your lives with you.
Each of the characters has his or her own assortment of special items that can earn bonus points. Mrs Thatcher, for example, has Dennis and a tray of drinks. If you use the cursor to sling the drinks at Dennis you earn a bonus point. The same happens if you sling one of Ronnie's American flags against the Russian flags. Diamonds will double any bonus currently on screen, and taps will destroy bombs.
There are bags of other possibilities and part of the fun of the game lies in working them out. There are also a few red herrings in there that have no value whatsoever.
I found Split Personalities totally refreshing. It's different, the faces and various objects have been satirically chosen to raise a giggle or two and, most importantly of all, it's totally addictive. Nice one Domark.