CJ's Elephant Antics logo

Lange nix mehr von Codemasters ge... Quatsch, das hatten wir ja gleich nebenan! Na, jedenfalls bekommt der Plattform-Ritter Agravain jetzt Gesellschaft - ziemlich massive obendrein!

Elefant CJ hat sich viel vorgenommen: Die ganze Welt will er durchqueren, im Zwei-Spieler-Modus zusammen mit seinem Zwillingsbruder, notfalls auch solo. Die Tournee beginnt in Frankreich, wo das schwergewichtige Duo über Treppen, mauern, tödliche Stacheln und explodierende Minen, Flics, Frogs und Glöckner hüpft.

An derlei Widrigkeiten herrscht dann auch später in Ägypten oder am Himalaja kein Mangel.

Gut, daß unsere Dickhäuter mit einem Regenschirm ausgerüstet sind - im Falle eines Falles (= Sturzes) können sie damit in der Luft manövrieren. Außerdem hinterlassen die Gegner nach Erdnuß-Beschuß Bonusfrüchte, Extras für höhere Geschwindigkeit, einen zeitlich begrenzten Schutzschild oder auch extrastarke Springbomben.

Tja, ausgefallen sind hier eigentlich nur die knuddeligen Helden, das Gameplay selbst eher weniger. Zwar warten am Ende jedes Levels ein Megagegner und eine Bonusrunde (per Drahtesel Ballons einsammeln), doch wird man die trotz der anfänglich acht Leben nicht oft zu Gesicht bekommen - zu viele unfair Stellen zu hakelig die Steuerung bzw. Kollisionsabfrage.

Aber immerhin: Für knapp 30 Mäuse erhält der Käufer zwei Elefanten, multidirektional scrollende Comic-Grafik im Stil von Oceans "New Zealand Story" und nur leicht nervende Musikuntermalung. Das sieht doch zumindest recht putzig aus, da hat man schon wesentlich mehr Geld schlechter angelegt, oder? (rl)

CJ's Elephant Antics logo

Codemasters have made something of a name for themselves as purveyors of cute, cartoony arcade games, so it comes as a bit of a surprise to find that CJ's Elephant Antics is in fact... a cute, cartoony arcade game. Okay, so it is not much of a surprise at all.

This particular cute cartoony arcade game concerns, in a rather ideologically sound manner, a baby elephant (CJ) who escapes from a plane while being transported to a zoo and has to travel through Europe and Africa to return to his home and family. Europe and Africa in this case consists of four large scrolling levels of maze-cum-platform action, with various enemies and traps conspiring to keep CJ from his objective, including gendarmes in France, lions in Africa, and penguins in Switzerland (?), as well as the ubiquitous end-of-level guardians.

The graphics in CJ's Elephant Antics have a slightly crude look to them, but CJ himself is a highly lovable little sprite, defending himself by spitting peanuts down his trunk at his adversaries and floating down long drops with the aid of his yellow-and-green umbrella.

The screen scrolls smoothly in all directions, but in general the game seems to lack a little in the way of visual sparkle. Musically it is atrocious, with a hideous tune that we will mention no lest I get all depressed, and there are no sound effects at all, which is a bit of a shame.

The two-player mode is very strange, as both players play simultaneously but the screen only follows player one, so close cooperation is essential if you want to get anywhere (alternatively, play the game completely blind for a real, not to mention very silly, challenge).

Control could be a smidgen more sensitive too, but despite all these faults the game is actually very playable. With nine lives and only four levels (although they are very big levels), it won't take forever to complete, but it will be long enough for you to get your money's worth.

CJ's Elephant Antics logo

Codemasters, C64 £2.99; Amiga £6.99.

As elephants go it has to be said CJ's a little unusual; sprinting along on two legs all the time, spitting high velocity peanuts and pulling out a brolly-parachute whenever he falls off a ledge. Apart from his big ears, trunk and distinct grey colour, CJ really isn't that much of an elephant. David Attenborough might not be pleased but on the other hand who's ever heard of archer Kiwis and bubble-blowing dinosaurs?

CJ is, in fact, very much a New Zealand Story/Bubble Bobble type of game. The cutesy story is that CJ has been kidnapped by nasty French people who aim to turn him into a circus performer. But CJ is a Zen-practising elephant who has no need for material reward and as the plane circles Paris he breaks free and parachutes to the ground below. There are four levels before he can once more stroll the African veldt: Paris, Switzerland, Egypt and Jungle.

On each level the objective is to find the exit, which is always guarded by and end-level monster. The levels are a familiar blend of platforms-and-ladders maze (dotted with spikes, moving platforms, water and other hazards) and various nasty creatures. Some creatures leave special objects when shot, such as limited invulnerability or bombs. The latter are thrown by pulling down and are very useful for rolling down to enemies on a lower level.

Uniquely for this type of game there's a simultaneous two-player mode. This works by the scroll focussing on one elephant - if the other falls off screen and doesn't get back within a few seconds he loses a life and is put back besides the focus elephant. This is a little awkward and unfair, but on the whole works surprisingly well. If you complete a level there's a horizontally scrolling subgame where the elephants ride bikes and must jump over spike pits while catching balloons.

It's doubtful whether there's anything original in CJ other than the two-player mode and having an elephant hero, but the game is executed with such panache as to easily lift it to the top of the budget range. The Amiga game boasts attractive graphics and a nice tune, but it's the C64 version that really shines. There's an intro load showing CJ's airborne escape but the game itself is amazingly a single load.

In-game graphics easily surpass numerous full-price games such as New Zealand Story and Edd The Duck, combining attractive backdrops with some excellent sprites which are well drawn and animated. The dancing Swiss girls and snowball-throwing snowmen are particularly good, while end-of-level monsters are great and the bonus section superb. All this would be of little consequence if gameplay was chronic - but fortunately it's very good on both machines.

Unoriginal perhaps, but as playable as anything else we've seen this month. It kept the whole team hooked for several days and although we've already got to level three it's far from easy. Without doubt this is the best original C64 budget game we've seen for years and should kickstart a series to rival the Spectrum's Dizzy mania.