Swahili crop rotation techniques

Tearaway Thomas logo

SOUNDWARE * £25.99 * 1/2 meg * Joystick * Out now

Keep in platform mood folks - at least for now - because it's time to meet a cute little British bulldog called Thomas. Well actually, he's not particularly cute - in fact to be brutally honest it seems as though this beast has chased at least half a dozen parked cars too many.

Um, come to think of it, the probability of Thomas being British is quite remote too, since Soundware are a German company and far more likely to plump for a native canine to fill any vacancies in the hero department than they are to employ a foreign mutt.

He is definitely a bulldog though - oh yes, a leg at each corner, a stumpy tail at the back, flabby jowls and a big "I am a bulldog" badge that effectively ends all speculation.

Having just complained at some length in the above review about the unoriginality of platform plots, you will excuse my lack of gushing enthusiasm as I briefly outline Tearaway Thomas. Are you ready? Here we go - you have to collect stuff and avoid/jump on things. Wow, eh?

The items Thomas must collect are diamonds, which have carelessly been scattered throughout tons of levels by a person or persons unknown. They're all over the blooming show - in trees, under bridges, and the more you collect, the more points you earn. Riveting stuff this, innit?

I'm a sarcastic old so and so, and to be fair Tearaway Thomas is actually quite a nifty little game. The fun begins in the woods near Thomas's home, with most of the all-important diamonds at first nestling tantalisingly in the branches of trees.

Strange and improbable though it may seem, bears inhabit the woods of this picturesque German forest, nasty big bears that will eat small bulldogs whole given half a chance.

Well no - the truth is, the bears are of the variety that you might find ina child's bed, and the only nastiness they exude is the knack of making Thomas flash briefly and lose energy points should he encounter one of them.

The rest of the game is very much in the same vein, with cute creatures aplenty adorning brightly coloured cheerful backgrounds.

Tearaway Thomas might very well find itself in the large bunch of also-rans if it wasn't for one specific feature that lifts it above many - its speed. The sprite is one of the fastest moving I've seen, making the game far more enjoyable to play.

The cuteness of it all means that few gamers above the age of about ten or twelve will be impressed, but for the youngsters among you, Tearaway Thomas is a fun game along the lines of Doodle Bug.

Tearaway Thomas logo

All Amiga programmers want to write a Sonic beater at the moment. Gremlin managed it with Zool, and now Global Sofware have gone for a rather shameless attempt at emulating the hedgehog in blue with Tearaway Thomas; an unspecified creature from outer space.

To be rank, Thomas wants to be Sonic He's probably gone to Sonic classes. You can imagine him as a kid: "Mum! Mum! Can I be Sonic? Please can I?". "No! Go away and jump about a bit, you little... er... whatever you are. And stop using that blue paint, you'll poison yourself."

I wanna be a youth icon
But let's be optimistic. Let's approach the game with an open mind. First, the plot: hmmm... ho ho ho, very slightly amusing, full anagrams of Mario, Sonic and other Sega-related icons. Unfortunately it never points out just what Thomas is, aside from a tearaway.

Right, straight to the action. Fifty worlds, yes... collect some gems and find the exit. Hit the nasties on the head for extra points. Does it kill them? Er, no, apparently not.

So, world one, Woodland. Set in a wood, appropriately, so there are lots of bears and birds. The first thing to hit you is the speed of the scrolling - it's pretty nifty. Coupled with the simple controls (left, right and a twirling Sonicy jump), it's gratifyingly easy to scream about collecting gems.

But to gain speed the programmers have sacrificed panoramic backdrops and twee scenery usually associated with such games - on the first level there's just the odd cloud, lots of trees and a bit of parallax.

It's only when you've completed levels one to four that the truth of the game sets in. This is it. There is no more to it: run, jump to get the gems, avoid the nasties (jumping on their heads is risky, because if they hit you, you lose two seconds from your time limit), then find the exit.

True, later on Thomas gets to grips with ropes, trampolines and hidden bonus screens, but these are just diversions. Even in the four other worlds (Toyland, Ghostland, Iceland and Futureworld) your objectives and methods remain the same, it's only the scenery that changes.

He's no Zool
It's obvious from the packaging that Global Software are a low-budget outfit, but they've tried hard to come up with a credible Sonic alternative for the Amiga. It hasn't come off, because a) Zool's so much better, b) on a standard A500 it's just not fast enough and c) the game's a bit dull.

For instance, there are no continues. To complete the game, you would to play all 50 levels right through with just three lives. Not even the most rabid Sonicophile would have the time or inclination for such a gargantuan task, let alone Mr Average Punter Who Wants To Play Sonic On His Amiga.

The dreaded words 'Look out for Tearaway Thomas 2, coming soon' on the packaging means Global's ambitions to see Thomas on T-shirts up and down the land aren't over yet. Which is a pity, because if they turned their hands to more original ideas, games that the Mega Drive couldn't support in a million years, they'd be on to a winner.

Auf den Hund gekommen

Tearaway Thomas logo

Was ein richtiges Plattform-Game ist, das braucht ein richtiges Knuddelmonster als Helden, stimmt's? Was also dem Konsolen-Igel "Sonic" recht war, war "Zool" billig - und ist auch hier nicht teuer...

Ein interessanter Nebenaspekt dieser Entwicklung ist die Wandlung vom originalen Turbo-Igel über die Ninja-Ameise zum Flug-Hund. Er braucht dafür zwar das passende Extra, und besonders elegant flattert er auch nicht gerade dahin, aber er flattert.

Ansonsten kann der wandelnden Flohzirkus sehr schnell laufen, wilde Putzelbäume schlagen und sich an Seilen etc. entlanghangeln. Waffen sind standesgemäß verpönt, also bekämpft man die feindlichen Teddybären, Pinguine etc. halt durch standesgemäßes Draufhüpfen.

All das dient letzlich dem Zweck, die 50 auf fünf Welten verteilten Level unter Zeitdruck von störenden Diamanten zu befreien, um danach hocherhobenen Hauptes den Levelausgang zu durchschreiten. Das heißt, zunächst muß man ihn finden, so wie hier überhaupt alles etwas komplizierter ist, als es zuerst den Anschein hat.

Beispielsweise herrscht in der Ausgangswelt die reinste Diamanten-Schwemme, während die Klunker später immer rarer werden. Doch mit etwas Glück stößt man in den ebenso riesigen wie raffiniert (aber fair) konstruierten Leveln auf geheime Edelstein-Lager, Abkürzungen oder Stellen, an denen es im wahrsten Sinn des Wortes Diamanten regnet.

Die prima animierte Grafik sieht gut aus, scrollt tadellos und ist vor allem rasend Schnell. Der Sound hat teilweise Ohrwurmqualität, und die Steuerung arbeitet absolut präzise - die Newcomer von Soundware haben hier also ein überzeugendes Debut abgeliefert, dem es nur ein wenig an Eigenständigkeit mangelt. (mm)

Tearaway Thomas logo

If you like 'em fast, fun and cute, this is for you.

You've heard it far too many times I'm sure - console-esque platform cutie, or something similar. But come on, this one's just asking for it. The manual gives you little clues like "the tearaway species resides on the planet 'CINOS EHT GOHEGDEH', a little left of the star system Megadriver". Add to this more anagrams like Dr Oiram and his assistant Minedto and you can see that Tearaway Thomas is taking on the consoles at their own game.

Now Tearaway Thomas is a very cute creature, which is a good start for a console-type platform game. We've been discussing this in the office and trying to decide what kind of cute creature Thomas actually is - Jacquie says a dog. Lisa says a penguin (?), Mark R says a chipmunk. Mark W says a coyote and Tim N plumps for a fat kid in an ill-fitting Batman suit. But he's cute, and that's the important thing.

As we all know, one of the most impressive things about Sonic is its speed, and Tearaway Thomas does for the Amigawhat Sonic did for the Mega Drive. This is so scorchingly fast, I hardly thought it possible.

You use the fire button to bounce Thomas around the platforms collecting gems, and you have to collect a certain number before you can leave the level. All this must be done in a time limit too, so the speed is not just a flashy extra. It's an integral part of the game.

The gameplay is wonderful

It makes for a great gaming experience because you're forced to really whizz round those platforms to get out at the end of it. Of course your way does not go unimpeded - there's everything form bears and birds to penguins and ghosts getting in your way.

You can't actually be killed by the beasties, but coming into contact with them dazes you and holds you up for two seconds. This isn't what you want when time is of the essence, but you can avoid being stunned and get extra points by jumping on their heads (a la Mario/Sonic). You lose a life if time is up and you haven't reached the end of the level. You get three lives.

It's loads of fun. You may not be overcome with awe as you look at the screen shots on this page, and the graphics aren't utterly stupendous by any means, but they do the job and look all cute and cuddly.

More importantly the gameplay is wonderful and you can get a nifty turn of speed. With 50 different levels in five different worlds plus special bonus rooms and levels you certainly get a lot of it too.

Perhaps the only major criticism is that the game plays pretty similarly all the way through - you don't actually get all that much variety. Still, if you enjoy what you get it'll keep you going for months.

Tearaway Thomas logo

Faster than a speeding pensioner, able to leap tall curbs in a single stride, Dan Slingsby dons his red lurex catsuit to review one of the fastest platform games ever to appear on the Amiga.

Easily carrying off the award for worst title of the year is this new offering from newly-formed Global Software. Tearaway Thomas is being touted as the fastest-moving game on the Amiga and a potential Sonic beater, but you'd never guess from the title - it sounds more like a children's bed time story than a state-of-the-art home computer game.

Whoever came up with such an appalling name should be taken out and shot, as they obviously have no idea how to market a game at all This is further evidenced by the gaudy and tasteless packaging the game comes in, which looks like it was put together by a chimpanzee and a set of crayons.

This is all a great pity, as the actual game itself is really rather good. So good, in fact, that I've been unable to stop playing it for the last couple of weeks. It's a platform game, pure and simple, with the emphasis on speed and reflexes. The graphics are cute and simple, the music irritatingly hummable, and the action non-stop.

Forget the awful plot - some nonsense about a quest to find out who you are - and jump straight in to a 50-level romp, complete with numerous nasties, bonus levels, special stages, hidden rooms and everything else you'd expect to find in a top notch platformer.

In all there are five worlds to complete, with each one split up into 10 levels. Each world has a particular theme. For instance, the first world is set in woodlands and is populated by marauding bears and big fat birds. Even a tweety-bird lookalike makes an appearance on one stage. Other worlds include a polar region, with polar bears kitted out in bobble hats, a horror world, a world made up of toys and the final future zone, with robotic nasties to take care of.

The aim of each stage is to collect a set number of gems with a certain time limit. If you fail to pick up enough gems in time, you automatically lose one of the three lives you start the game with.

Although there are plenty of nasties roaming each level, their only function is to stun you and thus lose you valuable time. Each encounter will cost you approximately one second as Thomas falls to the ground with stars spinning around his head. Once back on his feet, it's back to collecting the requisite number of gems. When this is achieved, an exit will open through which you have to escape before the time limit runs out. It's nice to see a platform game which doesn't rely on energy levels and which put s the emphasis on a race against the clock. This is much more fun and really makes for non-stop action as you frantically search for the gems.

Just when you think you've explored every possible nook and cranny, and that last gem is nowhere insight, you'll stumble upon a secret room or cave which will be stuffed with extra gems or find a hidden transporter which will warp you to another stage packed full of goodies.

At times, things get incredibly manic, but never frustrating. Thomas is able to climb ropes, cause mini-earthquakes by jumping up and down in certain spots, and can generally dash around each level with amazing speed. I certainly haven't played a platform game on the Amiga which is as fast-paced as this one!

Of course, no game is perfect, and Tearaway Thomas is not without fault. Although the nasties can stun you into submission, there's very little you can do to them other than jump on their bonces for some extra points. This is all very well, but it would have been nice to have given them a taste of their own medicine, or even to have been able to club them off the screen all together. As it is, they merrily carry on their way, no matter how many times you crack them on the head.

There's also a distinct lack of variety in the nasties. In the early stages there are only one or two different enemy sprites patrolling each level and, although things improve later on, it's a bit boring. A little more planning and originality would have helped things tremendously.

Considering this is David Henney and Nick Frampton's first Amiga game, they've certainly turned in a cracking job. The scrolling is silky smooth, the graphics palette suitably gaudy, and the speed of the main sprite amazingly quick. At times, as Thomas tumbles about the screen, it's hard to keep up with the pace of the action. Definitely a superior platformer and well worth the price.