Once there was a little old ant, Thought he'd move a rubber tree plant, Anyone knows an ant can't, Move a rubber tree plant, But he had high hopes, Yes he had high hopes, High in the sky, apple pie hopes...
High hopes and a lot of determination are what you're going to need, especially if you want to crack Ocean's latest, Push-Over. Colin Curly of Quavers fame and GI Ant team up to bring you cheesy flavour crisps, high-profile television adverts and now a cutesy platform game for your Amiga. Now that you've been taken in by the hype and have parted with your hard-earned cash, was it worth it? You will be pleasantly surprised to find out that this particular combination of marketing strategies does work as a game. It's nice to know that big sponsorship deals don't have to mean duff games.
Colin has done his usual trick and totally freaked out over the total cheesiness of his favourite crisp. In the mayhem that ensued he lost his quavers down the one and only anthill that's around (hands up who out there hasn't done exactly the same with their car keys down a gutter). Help is at hand in the form of Colin's little soldier ant friend, who has volunteered to brave the depths of the hill to find his mate's crisps (smacks a bit of product placement, doesn't it?).
GI Ant, without even a tiny glimmer of fear, dives straight into the opening, ready to risk life and limb for his pal. Little did either of them know of the parallel universe that existed right beneath their feet, Domino Domain. And what does he find down there? Dominoes, that's what, hundreds upon hundreds of the little yellow bricks.
So any time you're getting low
As anyone who's seen the Guiness Records will remember, the Japanese have a fetish for setting up dominoes in wild and wacky ways. Teams spend months designing and setting up their thousands of coloured dominoes, so that when one gets pushed over, all the others fall and make pretty patterns on the floor. Well worth it... not! However this sparked off a passion for such things that culminated in the creation of the most obscure toy in history, Domino Rally (ask your dad if you can't remember it).
The basic aim in Push-Over is to set up your blocks in a certain way, so that when you make your one-and-only push, all the dominoes will topple. The trigger block, distinctively patterned with three red stripes, should fall last. If all dominoes were alike, it would be a dull world to live in and, guess what, they're not. The yellow blocks are differentiated by red stripes and diagonals, each pattern representing different attributes, including tumblers, which seem to have mastered the art of perpetual motion, ascenders, which appear to have never heard of the law of gravity, and exploders that, well... explode.
Instead of letting go
Those who like their games to do more than make pretty noises when you kill big blue aliens will love Push-Over. It introduces you gradually to the ideas behind the gameplay, then slowly builds up to levels that could push the self-destruct button in your brain. The whole aim is to collect the ten packets of cheesy-flavoured snacks that Colin lost, which you get every 10 screens or so. But, to tell the truth, when you get further into the game, merely completing a level (Quavers or no Quavers) is reward enough.
Push-Over comes on two disks, not that the game is so complex it needs the space, but because an amusing intro sequence takes up most of the space on the first floppy. Admittedly, the animation and bluesy sound track would take pride of place in the demo section of Amiga Format, but when you've seen it, you've seen it, and it's pretty unlikely that you'll want to sit through it again. Unfortunately, you can't skip the intro. That's understandable when you consider the sponsorship deal but it's still a little frustrating when all you want to do is solve the puzzles.
Just remember that ant
It is tempting to put Push-Over in the same bracket as the classic Lemmings. Both need careful planning ahead and split-second timing to master. One of the most noticeable differences is, of course, that dominoes don't move along with cute bouncing blue hair. Push-Over is a puzzle game unlike any we've ever seen before, original ideas and a lot of elbow grease have gone into making an addictive product.
We thoroughly enjoyed putting Push-Over through its paces and won't be shoving it to the back burners until we've eaten our way through thousands of packets of those very curly Quavers. Although we may turn the sound down after a while.
Whoops there goes another rubber tree plant...
Clare Hodgson With a little help from Sammy Cahn and Jimmy van Heusen