Clockwiser logo

Before he hit the box office big time with A Fish Called Wanda, John Cleese played a clock-watching headmaster who, by a series of unfortunate errors, ended up being days late for a crucial speech. The film was called Clockwise and had nothing to do with this game whatsoever.

No, Clockwiser is a puzzle game in the age-old tradition of moving blocks around to create a certain pattern against a stringent time limit. The blocks usually have different properties - some can smash, some explode, some are affected by the forces of gravity.

To solve the puzzle on each of Clockwiser's 100 levels, you have to create a pathway around which the blocks move, either clockwise or anti-clockwise. Easy, eh? To help you, the game features a demo mode showing the basic moves and there are four different difficulty levels. The whole thing is joystick or mouse-controlled.

Clockwiser is a doddle of a game to get into and devilishly difficult to pick up. Complete a level and you want to do another one, then another, with your brain turning ever bigger somersaults as you try to outwit the programmers against the time limit. It is all terribly addictive and turns you into a shouting lunatic if you play it for more than one hour.

Clockwiser logo

Would playing this game have helped John Cleese to get to his headmasters' conference in time? We think not. Rather the opposite in fact.

Before you start playing Clockwiser I would advise you to take a week or two off work (or school, or whatever you do for a living) and get ready for a big electrical bill. This game is seriously addictive and almost anyone who plays it will end up suffering from the just-one-more-go syndrome that plagues the most irritating Amiga games.

Clockwiser revolves around blocks. That is right, those little square things that houses and garages and office blocks are made of. It is all about rotating blocks around other blocks until your blocks look like the picture of blocks on the other side of the screen.

Easy enough you might say, but when you discover that some blocks are affected by gravity, some explode, some multiply, some do not move at all, some make other blocks float and some make other blocks teleport around the screen then you begin to notice Clockwiser's hidden complexities.

On one side of the screen is a pattern of blocks. This is the pattern that you rotate your bricks into. Blocks are rotated by creating a rectangle 'thing' and clicking on one of the appropriately drawn rotate icons. Sometimes it is painfully obvious what you have to do but the time limit runs out too quickly. The first twenty or so levels represent little problem if you pay attention to the helpful demo before you play. But from then on the game gets to infuriatingly difficult that you will destroy your Amiga head-butting it! It is, though, the frustration which makes the game so annoyingly addictive.

Clockwiser's level editor is easy to use, allowing you to make levels harder than some of the original ones (if that is possible). Mind you, you do need a friend to have a go at your level for you, because you would obviously know how to complete it yourself (probably).

The game's difficulty level rises and falls more often than a rollercoaster. You can spend half an hour on one level (and we are talking the easy levels here!) and then complete the next level in a minute (or even less).

You will destroy your Amiga head-butting it

The worst levels are the ones that look really easy (destroy all the blocks on the screen) but one wrong move and the diamond self-reproducing block sets to work and before you know it the screen looks something like a diamond thief's heaven!

It is hard to work out which way you are going to rotate the bricks. Oh so many times I rotated the wrong way because of a genuine misunderstanding and messed up the whole level when I was one lousy rotation away from finishing it! Some arrows denoting which way you are about to rotate might have been nice (yes, you can tell if you look at the rotation path but you have to stare for ages to work it out).

The following may offend those people who subscribe to BRICK POWER, and get all excited when they see an authentic 1958 sandstone weathered building brick, but the subject matter of the game makes for boring graphics which are all a teensy bit samey (usually square).

So if the graphics had been more interesting and the controls a little easier this would have been a fine game.

Clockwiser logo


For a new software house, Rasputin seems to be making a fair old name for itself. Its first release, Jetstrike, seems to have shifted more units than anyone every expected, and now it is entering the puzzle arena with Clockwiser, a simple game of block arranging that is so simple, it is brilliant.

The game works like this: you are shown a screen split directly down the middle. On the left-hand side are your blocks scattered about, and on the right is a layout, showing you how your blocks should end up. As you have probably guessed you have to make both sides match.

To do this, and this is the really clever part, you have to select groups of blocks by dragging a box around them, and then slide the group clockwise or anticlockwise. Different blocks have different effects, while others are affected by gravity and then even others can't be moved or destroyed.

To begin with, the moves you need to make are few and relatively simple, but as the game progresses, things get very hard indeed, until you reach the later of the 100 levels, and things get downright impossible.

That is about it. Like most successful puzzle games, the premise is a very basic one, but that isn't to say that all basic premises make for good games. In fact, the first couple of times you play Clockwiser, the actual gameplay seems too simple to be entertaining. It is only after you put the game down for a bit and start seeing the patterns in your head that you realise you have been hooked.

It may not be packed with variety, but then neither was Tetris. The game has been very nicely implemented, with colourful visuals, smooth animations and a very cute intro animation. There is not really a lot to fault with Clockwiser. If you like puzzle games, you will love this.

Clockwiser CD32 logo CD32

Price: £25.99 Publisher: Grandslam 0181 680 7044

Jim Conway always looks puzzled, so he seemed like the right person to review Clockwiser. After three trips to the psychiatrist...

Agggh! I hate puzzles that I can't sort out and I've met one in Clockwiser. You see, there are these little bombs that explode once they are dropped onto another little bomb or any surface, setting off a chain reaction with anymore bombs in the immediate vicinity. I'm sitting in front of a screen full of them at the moment and I cannot figure out a way of leaving just one, unexploded, in the middle of the bottom of the screen. And that's what I have to do if I want to get any further in this game.

Clockwiser is the first original puzzle game available for the CD32. It's an object motion and time game, where you have to match the pattern of objects shown in a box on the right-hand side of the screen by moving in the box on the left-hand side. Each screen has a variety of blocks, known as elements. Of these, only the metallic ones cannot be moved or destroyed. These form platforms and walls which usually provide stumbling blocks that prevent you from simply moving all the other elements into place.

The other elements are as follows: anti gravity blocks; which can be moved horizontally and allow other elements to float above them. Brick blocks; which are not sensitive to gravity and can be moved in any direction. Diamonds; which are highly unstable and will multiply if dropped onto another surface. Transporters; which will transport elements that are dropped onto them to the location of another transport pod. Bombs; which are round and black and will destroy anything they land on. Sandstones; which are like metallic blocks but can be destroyed by bombs. And finally gravity blocks; the most basic and useless of the lot of them. They come in a variety of colours and generally make your life a misery.

And so to the complicated bit. The reason the game is called Clockwiser, is that you move all of the blocks around in either a clockwise or anti-clockwise rotation. And there are rules to be obeyed. You cannot select sandstone or metal blocks because they can't move.

You also need to be careful about moving diamonds and bombs. If you inadvertently drop a diamond you will get several more for your trouble. Likewise, if you drop a bomb you will not only waste it, you may ruin your chances of completing the screen. The joypad is a bit cumbersome here, but luckily there is an option to use a mouse.

There is a time limit set for each puzzle and this will vary according to the difficulty level. This is a good way of judging how many moves you have to make to complete a screen. Two minutes means that it's quite complicated. Three Seconds (I joke not) invariably means that there is only one or two moves. The clock doesn't start ticking down until you've actually started rotating some blocks, so there is plenty of time to logically plan your moves before you start.

Graphically, Clockwiser looks better than the average puzzle game, and the different types of block are easy to see. The presentation is good and there are three difficulty modes, all designed to have you pulling your hair out. The first 12 or so screens are designed to show you the ropes so you're not thrown in at the deep end straight away.

The music quality is good but I found the tunes themselves really annoying after a while.

Clockwiser is certainly a well thought out and reasonably original puzzle game. Its frustration factor is high, but there is a stop button that restarts each scenario without having to go back to the beginning, which is really handy. What's really welcome is the fact that on completing each screen you get a password, which allows you to go back to the game and pick up where you left off.

I'm not a puzzle game fanatic. The only one I've ever gone back to is Tetris, but I like Clockwiser. Although it doesn't have that "I'm going back to beat the last high score" competitive quality about it, it does make you think a lot, even while you're not -playing, about how to solve the latest puzzle it's thrown up. In fact, you can even create your own puzzles and let friends tear their hair out trying to solve them. Unfortunately though you can't save them on the CD32.

I'm used to PD puzzles on the Amiga, which come cheap, so paying for a full price one seems a bit much. But then again, for a game with Clockwiser's quality finish, that you can play whenever you feel it on a machine that doesn't have much else to offer in the way of puzzles, it could just be worth it. Anyway, back to those bombs.