Purple Saturn Day logo

THE concept of tying a number of small games together to produce one big one - or an ordinary sized one if you want to be cynical about it - has always appealed to software houses, and even, on occasions, to the buying public.
I can see why it's a good idea for the software house. All you have to do is produce a number of sub-standard, empty games and pile on the dressing and plot. Easy bucks.

Infogrames has come up with its own version of this pot pourri concept - Purple Saturn Day - in which the dressing is very stylish, and most of the four games are pretty dull.
It's all based on an intergalactic sports day held around the hurtling rinds of Saturn. Eight different species, one of them human - that's you - compete in a knockout competition, using all four events or sub-games in each round.

The winner gets the wonderfully exciting prize of a kiss from the Purple Saturn Queen who, in true French programming tradition, is a slinky galactic nymphette. I'm sure any women playing the game will be thrilled.

Down to the games then, which consist of Ring Pursuit, Tronic Slider, Brain Bowler and Time Jump.
Technically the best of the lot is probably the first, Ring Pursuit, which has you racing through the rings of Saturn. The object is to outscore your opponent by dodging to the left and right of red and yellow is used spaceships. This all happening in 3D, and there's rocks in them there rings. Horribly metallic boings resound with every collision. And they come all too regularly. As you move on to the next event you'll realise that each has its own quite stunning title page. It's a pity the games aren't up t the same standard.

Tronic Slider is another exercise in 3D, decidedly easier to play with a joystick than a mouse.
You're on this flat playing area that's covered in bollard and there's this energy blob wobbling around. You and your competitor shoot the hell out of Mr Blob, which results in lots of blobettes. You run them over with your motorised vacuum cleaner for the points, before chasing after Mr Blob again.
It's nicely done, but can hardly be described as a thrill a minute.

The next event could have been quite good. Alas the programmers got too clever for their own good. It involves activating and deactivating circuits in a brain by means of a pointer.
Now if this pointer was just an ordinary, everyday sort of pointer the game would be too easy. So what you have is a 3D pointer which you fire at the circuits. Fine, except it wobbles around and turns accurate play into wishful thinking.

The last event, Time Jump, is more mind-bogglingly naff 3D stuff. You attempt to catch sparks crossing the screen which are then used to power the catapult that hurtles you into the next dimension.

Purple Saturn Day has a number of very good features, excellent sound effects and some very effective graphic sequences. The problem is that the individual games e fairly uninspiring - there's no real desire to compete again and again.

Purple Saturn Day logo

Price: £24.95

One day every year, when the skies around Saturn turn purple, the inhabitants of the neighbouring planets come together for four challenging events in a galactic Olympiad.
Are you sure about this? Fortunately, the games in this excuse for an intergalactic sports sim aren't quite as obscure as their blurb.

You start off in a slalom race round one of Saturn's rings. Go right of the red satellites and left of the yellow ones, but only if you're in the lead. Colliding with an asteroid results in a grating thud and there's a metallic dong if you bounce off one of the satellites. As there's no time limit, the race alternates between weave and dash, you have to balance keeping in front with not missing out the markers.

'Ring-Pursuit' is as well presented a pursuit race as you could wish. Marvel as you thump into a lump or rock for the umpteenth time. Rage as your opponent kicks space dust in your face. Snooze as nothing else in particular happens.

The next game, 'Tronic Slider' is a fairly straight forward combination of a dodge 'em rink and hoovering. When you shoot up a glowing energy ball, it breaks into pieces which you have to collect before the other bloke. Try and avoid bumping into the walls around the flat playing area and the 'shimmering monoliths' (translation; posts) and you're away. Entertaining, but hardly original.

'Brain Bowler' is a bit more out of the ordinary. You have to reactivate one half of an 'exploded' brain through the electronic circuit board of 'intricate cerebral workings'. It looks more like the insides of a transistor radio to me. You do all this by bouncing a ball against the bits and pieces, re-routing charges to the brain centre. Your shizophrenic opponent on the other half will try to interfere as much as possible and the result is a very good game indeed. The game play allowing a variety of different tactics to be adopted.

I can't see 'Brain Bowler' becoming a national sport just yet. Where would you get a decent supply of exploded brains full of bits of cheap electronics? Then again, there's always Highbury.

The last game, 'Time Jump', is a little bit fatuous. Shoot up a few energy sprites and then pull back on a piece of cosmic elastic and boing! You'll be transported into another dimension. You're then treated to some pleasant pontilistic graphics to remind you that this is a parallel universe.

Fortunately, there's no problem getting back to reality in time for tea and you can then choose a variety of different aliens to compete against - each of whom has different characteristics which make him/her/it better at some events than others.

The graphics are excellent throughout: sharp, well-defined and with a singularly deranged Gallic flavour all of their own. The sound effects are firm and complement the graphics well, but the only real drawback is the relative unoriginality of the gameplay. Hold the 'shimmering monoliths'. A sports sim, is a sports sim, is a sports sim.

Purple Saturn Day logo

Exxos, Amiga £24.95

After the Solar wars, in which the legendary pilot Blood gained notoriety, Saturn was declared centre of System-affairs. Peace has been maintained for a good number of years, due to the growing sportsmanship of all the races in the system.
Once every Saturn year a contest is held between champions from the other eight planets in the other eight planets in the Solar System, consisting of four games...

This is a race through the rings of Saturn between two competitors. Not only have you got to watch out for meteorites, you've also got to navigate your way through a treacherous slalom course marked by the wreckage of old spacecraft.

A glowing energy ball hovers around a floating arena. You and your opponent fly hover scooters and fire at the energy ball to cause it to split into fragments. Collect these fragments to win. Crashing into your opponent causes him to lose fragments that you can pick up.

The most complex event of the Games. You and your opponent face a Brain Wall, which consists of sparks moving around a around a circuit. You must fill cells, activate memories and switch gates to guide sparks into the centre brain unit. You win when all the brain sockets have been filled.

You must wind and unwind your time spring to release sparks. Shoot these sparks to give yourself more energy for a Time-Jump. Fire yourself into another dimension and reach further into the unknown than your opponent to win.

Once all the games have been played through to the final, the winner is declared and wins the ultimate Saturn-Day prize - a kiss from the Saturn Queen. Cor Blimey.

Kati Hamza Good god, this is a weird game! The first thing that strikes you are the futuristic-yet-surreal graphics, with strange snake-headed aliens and bizarre colours. That's not to say that they're bad - they're very good indeed, from the wonderfully drawn competitor screens to the superb 3D racing effect. The sound, too, is very good, with a whole host of futuristic effects and tunes. The way the game is presented is very reminiscent of the last Exxos game, Captain Blood, even down to the Gigeresque shading of the aliens - but if something works why not stick with it? Well, when it comes to Purple Saturn Day, don't stick with your cash, buy it!
Maff Evans Too often, when you get a program that gets lot of attention due to the slickness of the graphics, you find that there is very little gameplay to back them up. Purple Saturn Day is an exception to the rule - it's excellent! The presentation is very atmospheric - in fact, the way the graphics, sound and presentation work together, reminds me very much of that cartoon, Battle of the Planet (anyone remember that?). However, potential buyers beware, this game is very odd! It takes a lot of thought to win on all the games in training, never mind in competition, and if that's not your cup of tea then you'd better try it out first.
Zzap's Rockford: This mag is getting surreal!