Tanglewood logo

Price: £24.95

After wading through the small booklet that forms the instructions for Tanglewood, I finally managed to come up with a short version of a long-winded plot. Your uncle who claims to have the sole mining rights to the planet T'ngly-y-wd is being muscled in on by some big men who know about the valuable gems scattered about the planet. These nasty men have also stolen the documents that prove that your uncle has sole ownership. What you have to do is to find the documents and hand them back to their rightful owner.

It all sounds pretty easy, if it were not for the fact that you cannot actually go down to the planet. Something about the temperature or some such mutterings. So what you have are five different types of mining robots, called Mobiles through to 5, and it is with these that you have to carry out your duty.

The whole game is controlled through a cockpit/control panel and a large window on the world. Viewed from above, it is at this point you notice how crude, almost childish, all the graphics are. Though it looks like a 'true' overhead view, a quick examination shows it to be nothing more than a series of icons laid next to one another.

In fact, large though it is, the landscape is very bland, with just a dozen icons being repeated over and over again, to represent bushes, wastebins, buildings and paths. This would have just been acceptable on the 64, maybe, but on the Amiga?

The five mobiles are controlled by moving a pointer into the map area (if using a joystick) and clicking. Movement with the joystick is relatively easy. Just push the joystick in the required direction. Mouse control, however, is incredibly tetchy. When you click, you have to imagine that the pointer is in the centre of a four pointed star and move the mouse along the arms of it to move the mobile.

Unfortunately, the greatest distance from the centre has priority, which means that, if you move the pointer up the screen 100 pixels, and you then want to go right, you have to move the pointer more than 100 pixels to the right, which means that distances get greater and greater, making the game more than slightly unplayable.

Around the edges of the map are switches and dials. These show you the outside temperature (a waste of time, I thought, as it does not seem to affect you at all) and the amount of energy your mobile has. The switches are there to perform mundane functions like quit game, save game, sound off and the like. Also there is an interesting switch that tells you where you are. The funny thing is that, no matter where I was, it always said 'On a path'.

After playing Tanglewood for a while, I began to feel that I was going round and round in circles. After playing a bit longer, I still found I was getting nowhere. Tanglewood is just another one of those games that can claim to have billions of different screens, but makes no claim that there is anything in any of them. If you want a game that in any way shows you a little of what your Amiga is really capable of, then look elsewhere.

Tanglewood logo

Microdeal, Amiga £19.95

Ha! Here's something you didn't know: you've got an uncle called Arthur. He's not from East Enders and he doesn't have a mate called Terry but he does own the mining rights to T'ngl-y-wd. Spit in my eye, eh? Isn't the world a small place guv'nor?

Well, yeah, it is a small place and that is why T'ngl-y-wd isn't on it - actually. It's a 'small undistinguished planet in a remote galaxy'. Arthur didn't worry about it much until he found out that it contained some pretty valuable stones, then he shot his mouth off over a couple of pints of beer and was elbowed out by the mining company.

Yup, those nice men at the mining centre have hidden Arthur's documents and re-established the planet's operational base. There's a court case in ten days and Arthur (sounds a bit like my uncle, Ripperbile) needs to find those papers or he's out on his ear.

Now, who could he find to help him out? Personally, I think he could have chosen someone a bit more macho than a freckly, skinny computer freak like you, but beggers can't be choosers and anyway - Arthur wants you for your brain.

You start your mission in front of a computer console which gives you control over five of Arthur's clapped-out droids. Most of them have bits missing and they're liable to break down but at least they all work... well, sort of. Different droids are suited to different types of terrain and some can be equipped with extra data if you find it.

You direct the robots' movements via a viewing screen. Remote control enable you to instruct them to pick up, search and use helpful objects like batteries or magenta coins. Provided they've got the right equipment they can enter phone boots, answer the phone, explore buildings and, ultimately, the control centre itself.

This is definitely an arcade-style adventure weighted towards the arcade. You might find the puzzles pretty devious (they've got to be really hard to fool Chuck Vomit) but it's all a question of having the right thing at the right time.

Trouble is, the right place doesn't turn up very often and you can spend ages just chivvying droids round a pretty boring landscape, wasting power. The sound (chug chug chug, chug chug chug) isn't much more exciting either - and I'm a great Bay City Rollers fan so I know what good music's all about.

If you like your adventures grilled and ready to eat you probably won't find Tanglewood instantly appealing. You could spend ages exploring this deep and mysterious world - there must be some juicy titbits somewhere - but it takes so long to get anywhere that you might decide to throw your disk over the nearest bridge and cut your toenails instead. But watch out - you might start enjoying yourself!