Charlie J Cool logo Amiga Computing Bronze Award

Cool platform frolics courtesy of Rasputin Software. Tina Hackett dons her shades to take a look.


Rasputin Software, renowed for their successful flight sim, Jetstrike, are venturing into the platformer market with Charlie J Cool. However, the games scene is crammed with platformers to say the least, so what's going to make this release different from countless others?

Well, actually describe it as a ‘jump ‘n' run'game, but the premise is still pretty much the same – travel through the levels negotiate platforms and kill lots of baddies. You play the part of Charlie J Cool, the sprite with attitude, who must decide his fate by completing a quest.


Slightly strange this one but here goes: Charlie just happens to be walking along the street when he gets stuck in some super glue and a Piano falls on his head (it might happen!) He then sees his own body lying on the pavement and his soul is promptly whisked off to a Netherworld.

Because he's died rather unexpectedly, the records of whether he should go off to Utopia (a heaven-type state) or Pandemonium (hell) aren't complete, so he must go off on a journey to see whether he leans more towards good or bad.

He must travel to a place called Midway, and through all seven lands to complete the journey. Only two forces exist here, that of good and evil, and by the person's actions it is decided which they are. So if you kill lots of fluffy bunnies you're obviously evil, but if you kill the nasties you are good. Straightforward enough, I suppose!



The storyline in Charlie J Cool revolves around the idea of there being a concept of heaven and hell, and your actions in life determine which state you spend your eternal life in.

The word Pandemonium as used in this game refers to the hell-like state that Charlie would go to if his actions were bad. The actual word, meaning confusion and uproar, or a screne of this, was used in Milton's Paradise Lost to mean a place of Demons. The word comes from the Greek PAN + Daimon (Demon).



Platformers come and and go these days without so much of a second glance – that is of course, unless they're really special – some aspect that makes them different from the norm. Take Ocean's Kid Chaos for instance, a brilliant example of everything a platformer should be. Great graphics, tons of playability and highly addictive.

Charlie J Cool takes the same kind of character and concept but it certainly doesn't have the same brilliant gameplay. This doesn't mean it's a bad game by any means – it's just not up to the same standard as the more exceptional platformers.

It is also a lot slower than other games. You can't just whisk your way through the levels as you can with those like Zool. You have to stop and plan your moves carefully. This means you have to negotiate your route more carefully which provides a challenge, but on the other hand it was quite fun just to whiz through a level.

Ruff ‘n' Tumble from Renegade was another great game because it combined a good puzzle element. Charlie J Cool is certainly playable enough and it is a big game, but somehow it doesn't have enough new featuers to make the grade.

With the many other platformers that are about to bombard the shops very soon, like Virgin's Aladdin, it is going to come up against some tough competition.


Better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven
Milton, Paradise Lost



There are plenty of different tunes in the game to keep it varied and they fit in nicely with the action. The worlds all have appropriate tunes and fortunately don't start to grate on the nerves.

The sound effects are adequate for the job but they aren't particularly spellbinding. They are the usual boings and bashes but nothing out of the ordinary.




The different worlds have been rather nicely based around themes. On his mission he travels around the Seven lands of Midway and each land is created in an imaginative way to provide variety.

Although the cutesy sprites have been well drawn they are more likely to appeal to a younger audience, but they do look good and fit in with the feel of the game. The main character of Charlie has been nicely animated, for example, if you leave him standing he will tap his foot or start reading his newspaper. The levels look attractive and have been carefully thought out to ensure the gameplay works nicely.

Examples of these are how well the obstacles are set out and the fact that the foreground platforms are distinguishable from background detail. Graphically it does rate highly and a lot of attention has been paid.




The game has plenty to offer both in presentation and playability. It looks pretty, the levels are packed with baddies and the action is fun. However, the gameplay doesn't have enough variety and mainly consists of jumping carefully across platforms and finding the key for the exit to that level – which is more about joystick dexterity than clever thinking.

Interest is added to the game with the different objects you can find scattered around the levels. For instance, the switches which can turn platforms on or off shields which turn him invincible, eyes which can be collected to reveal the entry point to secret rooms and question marks which may or may not help!

The password system is a nice touch because the game is so big and to start from the beginning each time would be very frustrating.

The different lands he travels through also make the game more interesting. Each one has different themes and obstacles such as Forestia with the Pits Of No Return, Medieva with Rolling Rocks or Ice Lands where you must look out for frozen icicles.

For the younger gamesplayer I would definitely recommend the title. It is simple to get to grips with, looks great, sounds good and is very playable.

The way your success in the game is shown is unusual and works well. A bar is shown and where Charlie is standing on it indicates whether he is good or bad. This will be nice for a younger player rather than looking at points all the time The actual objective to the game is also unusual and gives more of a purpose to the proceedings. But for older players who prefer more mentally challenging games, then Charlie J Cool won't be for them.

For platform fans Charlie J Cool is a nice addition to the genre but it is up against some tough competition at the moment. Its fairly limited gameplay may let it down a bit against those contenders that have a good puzzle element to them.

Charlie J Cool logo

Thus named, presumably, because he looks like a right one in that brown anorak.

Hey, man! Like, dig those hip shades! Sorry. I spent ages trying to come up with a suitable, witty and possibly relevant intro for this review, but why put so much creative effort into that when none's been put into the game?

Exactly. So bear with my imaginative lethargy as we trundle through the latest in a seemingly unstoppable line of ‘cool' characters. Meet Charlie J Cool. And his platform game.

Yup, a platform game. With! platforms, monsters to bounce on, leaps of faith, things to collect, a big golden key hidden away that opens the exit, lots of running as far right as you can, a change of scenery every four levels and a similar increase in difficulty. But without! any real reason for playing it.

Samey or even blank

Now, I'm the one who likes playing platform games, so I know what I'm talking about. There's nothing exciting, challenging or fun about Charlie J Cool. In direct contradiction of all accepted platform wisdom (including the edicts proclaimed by the mighty judges of Kangaroo Court) the game's exactly the same level 28 times in a row.

Okay, so the graphics are different from world to world, but the gameplay is identical throughout. And it's not as if the graphics get better or anything – for a full-price release they're distinctly bland, and with the likes of Ruff ‘n' Tumble showing how atmospheric backgrounds can be, there's no excuse for ones that are dull, samey or even blank.

And, peculiarly, there's no point at all collecting the coins scattered around – they just give you points. Surely they could have been used to give you some sort of Mario-style benefit?

In its defence, there's a great (and original) touch in the game whereby you can make Charlie good or bad depending on how many goodies or baddies yu kill and so alter the end sequence.

Otherwise, it's standard stuff, even down to the secret rooms. There's nothing to recommend it over just about any other platform game you could mention, and it's difficult to see why it has been brought into existence at all.


It's a platform game, so at various points on your travels you can pick up what we in the business call 'power-ups'. But it is our duty to DISSEMINATE ESSENTIAL INFORMATION we're not only going to show you the different power-ups you can get, we're also going to tell you what they do. Some people would say that's our job, but then some people don't have to take the damn screenshots painstakingly and write the captions, do they? Eh? EH? (But you didn't write the captions, did you, having in fact gone home. Sadly, readers, I have no idea what all these things do. - Weary Ed)

Charlie J Cool
A compass with a broken needle.
Charlie J Cool
A mitten with eyes and no thumb.
Charlie J Cool
A question mark and some fruit.
Charlie J Cool
A shield above a penguin.
Charlie J Cool
A wristwatch at an angle of 45°.
Charlie J Cool
A pair of fire extinguishers.
Charlie J Cool
Some coins and an arrow.

Charlie J Cool logo

Before Rasputin ever got around to releasing Charlie J Cool over a year ago, they went into liquidation and Amiga users worldwide breathed a huge sigh of relief. Undeterred by this hint of mammoth proportions, its developers Nevada Software have now made Charlie J Cool available by mail order.

Paul Mellerick reviewed Charlie J Cool in AP43 and gave it a less than complimentary 45 per cent. And while he concluded that it was a below average platform game, I feel obliged to point out that Paul actually liked platformers.

He took a great deal of satisfaction from being the only person he knew who could complete the entire Mario selection of games. Something which failed to impress anyone else, particularly me. Sorry Paul, I was humouring you.

So, having tip-toed around playing Charlie J Cool, I decided to take it home and play it over the long Easter weekend. At least, that was what I'd resort to if I got bored and, after spending a day in the market town of Devizes (where I lived for the first eleven years of my life) and then watching Notts County lose in the last minute to Swindon Town, it was depression which set in – not boredom.

Thinking that playing Charlie J Cool would somehow numb my depressed state of mind, I sat down and thought "Well, at least it's colourful," before playing it and then thinking "I'd like to be buried in Devizes."

As with most platformers there is a plot which, however, irrelevant, deserves at least a little bit of coverage. We join the story just as Charlie suffers an untimely death at the hands of a grand piano and some superglue before finding himself in a dentist's surgery (yes it's purgatory – but you were meant to be fooled) facing an old bearded man:

"'Dentist's surgery?' said the old man as he chuckled, ‘This is no dentist's surgery. You are in the netherworld.'
'What am I doing in Holland?' shouted an ever-so-slighly confused Charlie.
'Not the Netherlands,' replied the old man, ‘the netherworld.'"

In short, to save you the agony of experiencing more jokes like that, Charlie has been given a chance to determine his destiny – heaven or hell. Or, at least, you have been given the chance to determine his destiny. Personally, I couldn't care less where he ends up. He can go straight to hell for all I care, without picking up £200 on the way.

Each of the twenty-eight levels featured in the game require you to dodge, jump, kill and collect and, should you be successful in guiding him to the end of the level, without losing too many of your three precious lives, you will be shown a meter which indicates how ‘good' or ‘bad' Charlie is.

Kill baddies and his chances of getting to heaven are increased, whereas slaying of the goodies on each level is looked upon with disgust by Our Father, no doubt resulting in Charlie suffering eternal damnation at the hands of the most horned one. Or something.

The usual selection of collectibles are on offer here, ranging from shields for invincibility, shoes for extra speed and hearts for extra lives. However, collectibles are there for your benefit, so that you might stand a better chance of finishing the game but quite honestly, I can't imagine why anyone would want to bother.

Charlie J Cool logo

Price: £19.95 Publisher: Rasputin Software 01689 850 770

Rik Skews tries desperately to be cool, but ended up feeling more of a Charlie than usual after playing Rasputin's latest.

You can burn me at the stake for saying this, but as far as I'm concerned, the Amiga is not wel endowed with decent platformers. Only Ocean's Rainbow Islands and more recently their Sonic ‘tribute' Kid Chaos are likely to distract me from playing the Mega Drive's latest Sonic installment, or the beautiful Donkey Kong Country on the Super Nintendo. (What about Bubble And Squeak? - Ed).

I was hoping the latest from Clockwiser and Jet Strike creators Rasputin would be different, considering the pedigree of their previous games. Sadly it proved otherwise.

Things don't get off to a good start for Charlie J Cool, as the game features one of the most cheese-heavy storylines (and desperately unfunny manuals) I've had the misfortune to read in a long while. It goes something like this...

After being hit and supposedly ‘killed' by a falling grand piano, Charlie floats up into the air and eventually lands in The Netherworld, seated in a comfy black leather chair. At the end of this room are three doors marked Utopia, Midway and Pandemonium, which translate to good, neutral and evil.

The Netherworld is a place where dead people wait while higher being examine their lives before deciding whether to send them to Heaven or Hell.

It turns out that Charlie has died about 50 years too soon, and in order to decide whether he should be sent to Utopia or Pandemonium he must journey through the seven worlds of Midway. His goodness rating will alter depending on how many good or bad creatures are killed. Wipe out more good ones and pandemonium beckons, while squishing more bad guys will result in a speedy trip to Utopia.

If at the end of the seven worlds he still has a neutral rating then his life will be restored, his memory of the messy grand piano incident zapped, and he can carry on in the real world as if nothing had happened.

These seven worlds are platform-based and each is dived up into four zones. The levels themselves are set around all the regular platform worlds which include ice, forest and industrial. Scoreboosting gold coins can be collected as well as numerous pick-ups, which include a heart for an extra life and a pair of shoes for turbo speed. Secret rooms abound too, complete with their own surprises.

The aim of each level is simply to find the key (which is randomly placed each time you play) on each zone and then get to the exit.

It's uninspired stuff, but then most genres have been done to death these days. The thing is these other games tend to offer new features and ideas in order to get around this, but Charlie J Cool offers none.

For a start the graphics are the usual cute platform nonsense, although Charlie himself is remarkably unappealing. And he seems to have been blessed with helium boots, as a single upward tap on the joystick results in spectacular leaps skyward. This can even result in Charlie disappearing off the screen for a short time, and while the game designers might argue that it's an element of skill to judge where he will reappear, I just found it irritating to have to make sure he didn't end up in yet another life eroding chasm.

Sound consists of twee ditties and weak FX. However, the biggest flaws lie in the gameplay. This may look like Super Mario World but it sure doesn't play like it. There are numerous points in levels where it's possible to get killed through no fault of your own. For instance, it's easy to get hit by a baddie and then thrown down a chasm from the resulting recoil.

The levels themselves are all very similar, from the layouts to the baddies contained within them. To be fair though, they're often non-linear, with an option to bounce around high up platforms or play it safe along the ground.

My main problem with the game though, is the lack of tension it creates. All that has to be found to complete a level is a key and door, both of which are always blidingly obvious to discover. Having to collect a certain number of gold coins before the exit door sprung open would make all the difference, as would more challenging baddies. Those present are not only pedestrian but follow very predictable patterns.

With the likes of Donkey Kong Country around, plaform games have to be something remarkable these days to stand out, and even though the best platformers are appearing on the consoles, Charlie J Cool is still a poor effort, whatever the system.

An A1200 version is also available, and this redeems itself somewhat with more colourful graphics, but the gameplay is not improved. End of CU Amiga review

Charlie J Cool logo AGA

Rasputin 01689 * £19.99 * Out now

Game plots are usually terrible This one's brilliant. Walking down the street one day, Charles gets crushed by a falling grand piano, dies and goes to the Netherworld. Which is somewhere, but not really anywhere. So he has to trudge through 28 rather similar levels of platform merriment to get back from somewhere. Which isn't really anywhere.

In the tradition of platform games, the idea is to dodge, jump, collect and kill across seven worlds (including the odd bonus room) of horizontally-scrolling action picking up keys along the way to gain access to the next level.

Despite the changes of scenery, the application remains the same. Oh, and there are coins to collect, though I'm not sure why. Interestingly, the number of goodies you collect or baddies you kill determines where you end up – altering the end sequence accordingly.

Stunningly average stuff, indeed. An A500 version is also available.

Charlie J Cool logo AGA

Charlie J Cool was reviewed by the illustrious Stephen Bradley in issue 67 of Amiga Format. He gave it 50% and concluded it was "stunningly average stuff indeed".

There's not much more we can really add ot that, it is "stunningly average". The reason we're looking at it again this month is due to the unfortunate circumstances the game found itself in.

Charlie J Cool was never published because Rasputin fell into disrepute before they could actually start shipping the game.

Therefore, the creators have decided to go it alone and release Charlie J Cool onto the mail order circuit. It's not a bad idea, for despite being stunningly average and suffering from most of the worst platform mechanics of the genre, there will still be people willing to buy and play it.

The plot, just like any other platformer, is mostly irrelevant and attempts to disguise some of the fatal design flaws such as great leaps of faith, certain falls that instantly kill you, and a propensity toward pixel perfection to make certain jumps.

You could do a lot worst for your £10, so if you've still got money to burn, the address is in the little box at the end with the game score.