Trailblazer (Gremlin) Review | Amstrad Computer User - Everygamegoing

Amstrad Computer User

By Gremlin
Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Computer User #25


Ever wanted to be a footballer for Astral Villa? Well, with Trailblazer your wildest surreality can come true. A simple concept really, and not entirely original. Take a bouncing football and a multi-surfaced grid stretching into the far distance, and avoid the holes. Having described the game in 44 of the allocated 500 words, I suppose I should fill in the details a bit.

To the accompaniement of a twee little tune which you only really notice when it's driven you completely honkers, you have to guide the progress of this football down a grid.

This is composed of squares and holes - hit a hole and plummet through the nether reaches of uncharted space. No "Can I have my ball back please mister?" here. Even where the grid is solid the texture and surface substance varies, Some colours are sticky, some extrabouncy, some various shades of speed.

As the idea is to whizz down this grid as fast as possible while maintaining the control needed to miss the voids you have to be able to predict the effect of those patches on your ball's ballistics. It's uncannily like driving a motorbike on an uneven road with oil patches.

Control is by joystick (recommended) or keyboard. Pushing the stick forwards accelerates progress and left and right move the ball in those selfsame directions. Fire imparts that extra bounce needed to hop over holes.

There are major discontinuities lying in wait. To cross these a seriously precise stab on the fire button or spacebar is needed. As the game progresses, the ratio of space to surface gets greater.

And then the islands of something floating in nothingness start to get staggered, so bouncing sideways is called for. Look, nobody said it would be easy. And of course there's always those sticky patches to look for.

There are 14 distinct stretches with names like Shriggle's Shriggle and Hacker's Evil Hole. To get past each one you have to learn their little niceties like the back of your hand.

By the way, would anyone actually recognise the back of their hand in a manual identity parade? Just a thought Gremlin has a high regard for your sanity (gibber), so a practice mode is thoughtfully provided where you can try any three bits or even the same bit thrice) without losing lives.

So it's possible to sample the delights of the utterly, completely, massively impossible bits without having to conquer the merely excruciating parts.

And that's without mentioning the really depraved depths those guys from north of' Watford can sink to. Like switching joystick directions on the fly. Or plonking an incongruously easy bit in to lull the senses and hide the yawning chasm that lurks just over the horizon,

Presentation is of a singularly high standard. You can even detect the same hands at work that created Jack The Nipper at work, despite the completely different type of game.

And then there's the World's Longest Scrolling Message. I see no reason to disbelieve this claim. It manages to mention Boots, Frank Bruno, men in white coats and the reason why the Options menu starts at option 3. And it goes on, and on, and on...

Speed merchants and seekers after thrills should have a look at this one.


The Ed has banned this game from the ACV office: When it was running on the 464 no one got any work done. [So - what's new? - Ed]. Now it is an after hours only job.

This has all the ingredients of a good game. Excellent design, fast action and 100 degree proof addiction. The programmers have packed a lot into this game. In addition to the long and winding road they have a massive message and a super little tune.

This deserves to do well.


If you want to compare this game to something (and some people love to do just. that) then Trailblazer is a version of Bounder with a centre forward's view of the ball. There is more palette-switching going on here than the mind can comfortably cope with.

The action is fast, furious and extremely addictive. I used not to rate Gremlin but it's produced such classics of late that they are shooting up my list of best software houses.


"You'll like this one," said the Ed as he pressed another disc into my cynical palm. And I do. It's great, Solid planes of colour, an absolutely maddening game idea, and totally moresome. There are some truly evil twists hidden away, Gremlin Graphics is a fitting moniker indeed. And now if you'll excuse me, I've got a Cul-de-Sac to negotiate.