Are you worried about not being trendy? Scared that you can't carry off that beige jumbo-cord safari suit with aplomb? Well, don't despair - now you can take a crash course in how to be cool from the new hero on the horizon of the gamesworld - the very master of coolness, Cool Coyote.
Fire And Ice is just what Joe Public's been waiting for (I know, 'cos I asked him myself) - another cutesy platform game!
The story goes like this: there's a firewizard who lives in Egypt and causes all sorts of trouble. Various evil things can be blamed on him, including global warming and a sudden change in character suffered by all types of creatures, turning them from harmless lovelies into raging, barking-mad beasts.
Now go away and leave me alone before I beat the living daylights out of you. Oops, sorry... I was just feeling a bit tense just then. I don't know what's got into me... ever since I played this game I've felt a bit off balance.
Anyway, as you might have guessed, it's Cool Coyote's mission to battle his way through the different levels to Egypt in order to find the wizard, sort him out and save the world. Starting in the frostbite-inducing climate of the Arctic, CC has to suffer various climatic changes before he can finally visit the pyramids, having a relaxing pina-colada at the swimming pool of his five star hotel, and return to the Scottish Highlands, the place he allegedly prefers to anywhere else in the world.
To help him on his journey, CC is equipped with a freeze-gun, which turns baddies into spooky ice sculptures. If you run into one of these before it's thawed, it shatters into pieces, effectively taking all of the fight out of the baddie.
Of course, the hotter your location, the faster your deep-frozen villain is back in action, so don't get into the habit of hanging around.
There are also some smart power-ups left along the way. For instance, if you find a cloud and 'seed' it with a blast from the freeze-gun, you're showered with snowballs for you to collect and use.
All in all, there are ten different types of weapons to be discovered. My favourite was the sonic bark - a piercing howl guarenteed to blast opponents form the screen and keep the neighbours up all night.
And CC even has a sidekick - a Robin to his Batman, a Spock to his Kirk - who we shall call Fluffy Puppy (because that's what he is). This diminutive chappie sometimes wanders ahead, sometimes lags behind, and sometimes just hangs around our hero, performing that special sniffy 'hello' that only doggies can get away with in public.
Now, if you were to use the Andrex puppy, say, as a canine shield in the real world, you'd probably set yourself up for all sorts of public censure.
However, you can forget all that soft rubbish in Fire And Ice, 'cos the puppy here is a Pit-bull/Scrappy-Doo crossbreed, and is quite happy to race ahead, taking some flak on your behalf.
As I mentioned, the hero, or rather the superhero, of this game is Cool Coyote. And cool he truly is.
From the start on the title screen, whe he sat at the piano, flashed me that 100 watt smile and winked his wolfy eye, I was lost.
I would follow him anywhere through fire and ice, across vast deserts and through tropical storms. Hell, I'd even go to Scotland with the boy, and why? Because he's just sooo cool.
We started off, a merry band, battling across the barren ice flows of the Arctic. Armed only with Ole Betsy the trusty freeze-gun, we zapped the snowball throwing eskimos and the waddling penguins.
We took pot-shots at Charles and Di as they skied at us, and jumped into them before they had time to recover, thus collecting points a-bungo and the vital pieces of a broken key.
When you've collected the whole key, you can enter the next level.
And what a level it is! Cool Coyote finds himself haggis hunting in the Scottish Highlands. Except he doesn't - he's still collecting points and bits of key. But he is in the Highlands. The music changes from the tinkling ivories of level one to the skirling er... skirl of midieval bagpipes.
This time, Cool Coyote has face the onslaught of knights, wormy cratures and haggises (or is it haggi?) while searching for a treasure box and keys beneath the rolling Scottish moors.
Next, our hero dons a diving mask for sub-aqua frolics, where he gets attacked, as you would expect, by giant ants and homicidal killer-kangaroos. Or... hold on... was it fish? Ah yes - fish. If you get trapped down a hole in this level, put aside your fears of the bends and take an express elevator ride to the surface on a large bubble - it's smart. At one point, I thought I was actually shooting Robocod (something I've wanted to do ever since that creep tried sublimenally sell me chocolate bars).
With the beat of bongo drums, level four arrives. Set in the heart of the Amazonian rain forest, things get a lot hotter and a hell of a lot tougher. Everything is harder and faster. Cool Coyote gets attacked by devious snakes and other assorted jungle creatures, while burning arrows whizz through the air and Venus Fly-Traps snap at his heels.
Next comes the Inca temple, full to the rafters with monkeys on pogo-sticks and rabid priests. Unless you manage to quickly put the latter on ice, the bud-off loads of little Inca warriors, each one with an aggresive personality and a nice Happy Mondays basin-cut.
Apparently, you can also go on a secret roller-coaster ride in a mine cart, but after that, there's an extra world which forms a sort of bonus points trolleydash. There are no baddies to speak of here, but if you fall off one of the platforms, that's it. So take it slow and grab as much as Cool Coyote's little paws can carry.
The final level is set in Egypt. Here, you'll find some nasty fire creatures who try to melt the power-ups before you can use them. More ignominious yet, CC ends up fighting against his dinner. Yes, a bunch of gophers become have-a-go-heroes and start lobbing rocks at their natural enemy. Let's hope you manage to put the frighteners on the wizard at the end, or just think what all the other predators will say!
Dagi: In this world of sin, I usually find that there are two types of cute: sickeningly cute and amusingly cute.
Fire and Ice has the sort of warm and amusing tongue-in-cheek cuteness that makes you want to leave the outside world behind, draw the curtains and toast some crumpets.
The game is so chock-full of throwaway ideas that until you've finished the very last level there's always something new to discover. Take the underwater section - you can hitch a lift on a passing turtle or use the sprung hinge on a clam shell to gain extra height on a jump. It's like a submarine playground.
Thanks to the four-level training mode, you get a change to have a look at four of the seven levels, which saves you the frustration of having to spend hours mooning longingly at the level map.
Curiosity is a fine thing, and I think all games designers should have the decency to let you catch a glimpse of things to come, especially if the graphics of a game are as exciting as those of Fire And Ice. If you're into high quality games bursting with visual ecstasy which offer hours of fun without frustration, you should definitely consider getting this game.