It's a puzzle game and, er, it's called

Supaplex logo

DREAM FACTORY * £25.99 * 1/2 meg * Joystick * Out now

We've got a bit of a problem with this one. We've been sent the game, but without any instructions or packaging or anything. So we don't really know what's going on.
For instance, we don't know why you must control Harvey through 111 levels of mazes collecting little round ring-type things. We don't know what he is, although all the computer chips dotted around suggest that maybe he's some kind of microscopic troubleshooter who goes inside computers to collect little round ring-type things. Maybe.

Or maybe he's a really clever thief who's decided to steal loads of little round ring-type things and sell them to wealthy little round ring-type thin collectors. Maybe. As you can see, we don't really know what Supaplex is about.

What we do know, being the highly evolved games reviewer sorts that we are, is that Supaplex is a puzzler sorts that we are, is that Supaplex is a puzzler firmly in the mould of that crusty fave, Boulderdash. This involves manoeuvring "Harvey"around each level chomping through the ground to reach the little round ring type things.

To make life more difficult, each level is littered with metal balls which will fall if the ground beneath them is eaten away. This can be to your advantage, if you want to clear a path, but more often than not they'll drop right on your head and squash you.

Also there to liven things up are such wondrous items as gateways to other sections of the level, disks which explode taking out bothersome walls and gravity which stops you moving around the level at will, forcing you to build steps. Very clever.

It's a pretty ancient game style, but the Dream Factory have tried to inject some new life into it with some nifty features. You no longer have a limited number of lives. Now you can have as many goes at as many of the levels as you want, with the emphasis on finishing all 111 levels in record time, rather than just trying to struggle on to the next level.

You can also have several players playing after each other so you can battle against your chums and chumettes to get the fastest times.

Hmm. Well, despite not knowing anything about the plot I managed to do pretty well. Partly because of the handy tutorial at the start which tells you what to do and what not to do, and secondly because of the "skip level" feature which allows you to jump over troublesome levels to the one after.
What do you mean, cheat? You can't just jump to level 111 you know, 'cos you can only skip a level if the one before it is completed.

It's a fairly good fun game to play, although that much is pretty obvious to those who've played the original "Boulderdash", but I can't help but wonder how well a game like this stands up in today's market. The presentation is a little rough around the edges, as are the graphics, with only the sound saving it from total "eightbititis"

All things considered, Supaplex is a fairly average game. The new additions go some way to give it some welly, but its dated gameplay ultimately leaves you thinking that it might be better as a budget game.

Supaplex logo

As soon as you pick up the box of this game you start making a few assumptions. The software house (Dream Factory), the awful cover illustration (a ball striding across a circuit board with a 3.5-disk in its hand), the ominous buy-me-because-you-can-enter-a-competition sticker on the front (£2,000 worth of Panasonic equipment) and worst of all: a software award from one of the more down-market Amiga magazines, all go to suggest that this isn't going to be a terribly fulfilling game. How wrong assumptions can be.

Pacman meets Boulderdash
Well yes, there's just no getting away from it, Supaplex is a your basic Boulderdash clone. Way, way back in the early to mid-Eighties, there were a whole rash of these games for 8-bit computers like the Commodore 64. The idea of the game was to move a character around a scrolling level, collecting various treasures, while trying to avoid getting crushed by great boulders which react to the normal forces of gravity.

What with this being an Amiga version of the old game format, some new twists have been added to the game, but it's essentially the old game format trundled out because the software houses know there are loads and loads of new computer users who've never head of Boulderdash before.

Supaplex starts with the user inputting his or her name and this is then stored on the disk. This has the advantage that once you've completed a level (there are 111 in all), you don't even have to save the game to start from that point again, simply bung the disk in and start again from where you left off.

Statistics are kept on each player stored on the disk, old ones can be deleted, new ones added, the graphics used in the game can be explained, a demo can be left running and a hall of fame can be displayed.

Crushing experiences
The game proper starts off easily enough with a level that's entitled 'Warm up'. Your little pacman chappie simply zips around getting flashing things called Infotrons (if you know Boulderdash) then for infotrons read crystals), trying not to get crushed by Zonk!s (ermm, boulders).

The only major difference between this game and its older relatives is that if you hold down fire-button and point the joystick in the appropriate direction you can remove an adjacent object (providing that it is removable in the first place).

The graphics are pretty simplistic but at the same time effective, in other words don't expect 16-level parallax scrolling in this game, firstly because you won't actually need it. The screen scrolls around smoothly enough and the hostile characters I the game, such as Snik Snaks (scissors to you and me brother) are animated pleasantly enough.

So, given all the obvious problems with what should be a tired old game format Supaplex is far too addictive for anyone's mental health. This is the kind of game that you could drop behind enemy lines in a war and guarantee to demoralise the enemy within just a few hours.

Never mind one-more-go, appeal what you've got here is, one-more-48-hour-stint-before-sleep appeal. It's a tired ancient format, but (in this game at least) it works a treat, ignore the plot and savour the gameplay.

Klassik ohne Klasse

Supaplex logo

Wer den C64-Klassiker "Boulder Dash" kennt, der kennt auch Kingsofts' Amiga-Remake "Emerald Mine". Wer beides nicht kennt, kann ja mal unsere Klassiker-Seite aufschlagen, alle übrigen dürfen hier und jetzt das Remake vom Remake kennenlernen...

Wie gehabt sammelt ein kleines Männchen in labyrinthartigen Räumen Diamanten ein, weicht dabei allerlei Bomben, Säuertropfen und sonstigen Gegnern aus und versucht, den Ausgang zu finden. Halt, stimmt nicht ganz. In Supaplex ist das kleine Männchen nämlich kein kleines Männchen, sondern eine rote "PacMan"-Kugel mit gelben Örchen.

Die Pille mit Ohren klaubt also haufenweise Gegenstände auf, bekommt Probleme mit explodierenden gelben oder orangen Scheiben oder flüchtet vor scherenartigen Wesen - und das insgesamt 111 Level lang. Freilich, ganz so einfach ist die Sache nun auch wieder nicht. So gibt es z.B. nur einseitig durchlässige Wände, oder Gegner, die man erst mit einem herabstürzenden Felsbrocken erledigen muß, damit sie den Gegenstand herausrücken, den sie mit sich herumschleppen. Supaplex ist daher auch kein hundertprozentiges Plagiat, sondern bloß ein fünfundneunzigprozentiges - immerhin taucht da und dort mal ein neues Feature auf. Andererseits existiert hier nicht mal ein Zwei-Spieler-Modus. Grafik und Sound sind von ergreifender Schlichtheit, und die Steuerung ist ein bißchen hakelig.

Kurz und gut, die Action-Tüftelei ist durchs viele Kopieren nicht unbedingt besser geworden, aber das kennen wir ja schon von Videofilmen. Wer keine softwarehistorisches Interesse an Supaplex hat, sollte sich daher lieber ans Original, sprich "Emerald Mine" Halten. (C. Borgmeier)

Supaplex logo

Digital Integration is a name usually associated with complex flight sim games (and looks set to remain so with the release of their Tornado game early next year), but with the launch of the Dream Factory label they've decided to dip their corporate toe into more arcadey waters.

The first game on the label is Supaplex, a Boulder Dash clone set inside a computer, where you guide a little Pac-Man character around mazes collecting 'Infotrons', and avoiding 'Zonks', which fall down the screen according to the laws of gravity when the supporting earth beneath them is dug away. (Gravity? Earth? Inside a computer? Never mind...)

Now, copying Boulder Dash isn't a crime - it's a classic game style and stands up to repeating - but when it's executed this badly questions have to be asked. After a fair enough first warm-up screen, things degenerate swiftly.

The second stage is an interminable maze with nothing in it at all except the exit, which is a real yawn to trek around, then it all gets worse with ridiculously-long levels which rely heavily on you guessing the correct route to take while boulders (oops, sorry, 'Zonks') rain down on your head, making a single mistake fatal.

Presentation is shoddy, confusing and insulting too, and generally this is dreadful rubbish for masochists only.

Supaplex logo CU Amiga Screenstar

As if being a bright orange blob isn't bad enough, poor ol' tomato-face Murphy has been trapped in the electronic innards of a huge supercomputer and has to fix all the bugs in its many programs. To do this, our overly plump friend has to whizz around the 111 maze-like levels collecting tokes and solving some of the mos taxing and teasing puzzles I have ever had the displeasure to play!

Each level requires the Pacman-like Murphy to collect a certain number of Infotrons and then head for the exit. Some of these are easy to reach, but others are hidden behind walls or secreted beneath huge columns of boulders which have to be moved out of the way.

You'd think that with some many levels things would become somewhat repetitive, but the Swiss-based designers have managed to cram lots of different traps and puzzles into each stage so that things never get boring and there's always a new and perplexing challenge ahead.

The basic gameplay is akin to that of First Star's Boulderdash and its PD cousin, Emerald Mine. Diamonds might have been replaced with Infotrons and boulders by Zonks, but they perform the same functions - i.e. collect the Infotrons and keep a watchful eye out for falling Zonks!

Of course, there's a lot more to it than that, as the puzzles have been constructed to test your mental powers to their limit. Computer disks can be used to blow holes in computer walls to grab more of the valuable Infotrons and there are vicious pairs of marauding scissors on the loose wanting to slice and dice poor Murphy into a gooey tomato puree.

In addition, there are also multi-direktional transporters to access different parts of each level as well as flashing electrons which need to be crushed by falling bolders to release their stash of Infotrons.

There isn't a scoring system as such, but Digital Integration have included a timer so that you can keep track of how long it's taken to complete each level and the overall game.

Only one life means that some of the more difficult levels have to be attempted repeatedly. The lack of a two-player mode is disappointing, too. But the overall feel of the game, coupled with the brilliant and well-thought out puzzles, means that Supaplex will provide hours of brain-straining fun.

ROCKS AWAY For those of you who have never experienced the joys of First Star's brilliant Boulderdash, the game involved the player guiding a small brownish grey cave mite around a system of mud-filled caves collecting valuable diamonds. The cute mud-shoveller would patiently tap his feet when not in use and dig too close to a precariously balanced pile of boulders and he'd be squashed beneath an avalanche of rocks. Also on the loose were a vareity of nasties who patrolled the networks of caves and some extremely tough puzzles. Widely regarded as the best puzzler ever.

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The man: Ben Caudell. His deadly mission: to play Digital Integration's Supaplex. Well, alright, it's not that deadly a mission.

Amiga reviewBen: One look at Supaplex betrays its origins - it's Boulderdash! You can't fool me - I know it when I see it. A bloke tunneling around making sure that things don't fall on top of him as he collects things - it's got Boulderdash written through it like Brighton Rock. Still, that's no bad thing - Brighton rock's pretty tasty (though it does make your teeth go a bit gooey), and so is Supaplex.

It's not exactly like the old bouldery favourite, either. Out go the rocks and in come a whole host of computer-related graphics. You manoeuvre a little Pacman-looking thing around a scrolling area, eating away at little printed circuit boards.

Eat away under the round 'Zonk' things and they'll fall down, either killing you or making it impossible to reach all the multi-coloured 'Infotrons', which are what you need to finish a screen.

Most of the game's enjoyment comes from working out the correct way to get a tricky Infotron, but at the same time you'll need to be a master of the joystick to make the right moves at exactly the right time.

It's got a big hundred and eleven levels, all with intriguing and downright difficult layouts. And there are various nasties that lurk about to make your task just that tad more exacting. These include bombs shaped like disks and little scissor-shaped things that roam around snipping (quite what they've got to do with the computer theme I don't know).

It's a shame that the graphics don't change at all through the game, but then it's the layout that's the important thing, and you could become quite addicted to getting through all those levels.

It is a tried and tested formula, but nevertheless a solid one, and all those levels make it pretty good value for money. It's certainly not fast and furious, but it could just be the cause of a few very late nights.