Pump up the volume

Airball logo

IN this original twist to an ancient type of game you start life as a flat balloon on a bicycle pump which slowsly blows you up. By guessing wildly you jump off before you explode, hopefully filled with as much air as possible, and then make your way around the Old Castle to find various hits and pieces.

Once you've found them you make your way back to the pump and follow the instructions of the wizard. I keep deflating or exploding before I find the first object, so I am doomed to wander the castle and write reviews forever.
Seriously, it's good to see ye olde isometricke view back, even if many joysticks are not too keen on diagonal movement.

Some of the collision detection in Airball is rather approximate - walking into the wall next to a door will miraculously transport you through it, and you pick up gold bars and diamonds well before reaching them, even through obstacles. You are supposed to press the space-bar to pick something up, but looking at the object in question will suffice.

The stationary and impeccably collision-detected baddies are numerous - metal spikes, sharp bits, spiky balls, pointing fingers on stands, staircases which you keep falling off... There are no cute little mechanical soldiers , no spiky balls which drop from the ceiling, no falling portcullises, but the similarity to Knight Lore is remarkable.

First impressions are good: A demonstration showing the wicked witch turning you into a balloon, a colourful loading screen, a good attract mode screen which allows you to switch between keyboard and joystick control - keys are much easier - and a high score table with giant Gothic lettering.

There is excellent music which plays throughout, which can be turned up or down using the cursor keys. Sound effects are almost non-existent. An option allows you to move the whole screen up and down with the numeric keypad, and stops you taking the back off the television to find the Vertical Hold control.

It's a rare old game. The graphics are large and colourful and stationary. Movement and swapping between screens is smooth and quick. There is a certain novelty value the bursting balloon, but it soon wears off. Airball quickly vanished into the murky depths of my disc box.