Blistering barnacles!

Tintin On The Moon logo

HERGE's Adventures of TinTin! used to a familiar cry on children's television long before the current invasion of Japanese transforming catpeople he-man cartoons which profiliate today.
That plucky lad with the strange haircut, and shorts so outlandish that they are bound to be fashionable, had numerous adventurous goings-on with his faithful dog Snowy and other erstwhile companions.

And now, betraying his cross chanel origins, that equally French software house Infogrames brings us TinTin on the Moon, a game loosely based on one of his televised epics. No matter what you might think about French software, it is fair to assume that more than average effort has been lavished on the graphics. TinTin sur la Lune is no exception.

The opening sequence is superb, using animation and sound effects which honestly give the original TV cartoons a run for their money.
It starts with a minimalist French countdown, after which the re-decorated CV2 rocket - designed by Professor Calculus and piloted by TinTin and friends - blasts off amid a blaze of pixels and some 2001-type music. The Thompson Twins appear to be absent from the crew list; they must have been at a recording session that day.

The game consists of two stages, each played five times as the ship progresses on its journey to the moon. The first stage is a three-dimensional view of the rocket hurtling through space, dodging asteroids and collecting spheres of energy. The energy level is important because allowing it to reach zero will end the game. This stage is easiest to play with the mouse.

The second stage, which is where the real game take place, is a platform and ladders affair. If you used the mouse for the first stage, you must quickly look around the desk and find a joystick. It's either that or the keyboard, and nobody uses the keyboard these days.

The dastardly, anarchical and suicidal Colonel Boris has planted some bombs around the various cabins. As if this wasn't enough, the has started fires left, right and centre while he was at it.
TinTin rushes about the ship in a sort of breakdancing frenzy, defusing the bombs and extinguishing the fires before the ship explodes with suitably terminal consequences.

Snowy is as helpful as always, waggling his tail and going woof. Or is it bark? No matter, the dog is a waste of space and can't even climb the ladders properly. How it is going to put its little doggy spacesuit on, or where it is going to find a lamppost on the surface of the moon is never explained.

To successfully complete this stage. TinTin must deal with all the incendiary devices, as well as freeing anyone tied-up. A type of panic button is available in the form of a zero gravity switch, which causes everyone to float about hoping Snowy doesn't have an accident.

Attacking Boris is best left to Captain Haddock, who will quite happily knock the living daylights out of him whenever they meet.

According to the instructions, after completing the fifth stage you will "momentarily lose control" as the rocket makes its final approach to the lunar surface. I certainly did, and danced crazily around the room, shouting "Thundering Typhoons!" for several minutes.

Then the rocket starts its landing phase and you must fire the braking motors as gently as possible to conserve energy. For what does energy make? No, not the greenhouse effect, but points.

Entering your name in the hiscore table is also an out-of-this-world experience. Although your country of origin is determined at the start of the game, the keymap is still laid out for a French Azerty system. The graphics are great, the sound is reasonable, but the big question is the gameplay. Quite simply, is there any? To be fair, there is something to do during the platform and ladders parts, but not enough to merit the asking price. Once again, it is glossy effects versus gameplay. And gameplay loses.

Tintin On The Moon logo

INFOGRAMES £24.99 Joystick

Tintin On The Moon is based on 'Destination Moon' and 'Explorers on the Moon', two of the kiss-curled reporter's adventures (did you know that Tintin has failed ever to file a report to the newspaper he works for since the first story?), in which the young chap along with Captain Haddock and Professor Calculus (not forgetting the highly intelligent dog Snowy) are piloting the first manned rocket to the moon.

The game consists of three major parts over six stages. The first part involves the player piloting the rocket viewed from directly behind - through space, collecting yellow fuel pods and other red pods which, once you have collected enough, advance you through to the first of the game's six stages. Once you make it to the first stage you are into the second part of the game which sees you controlling Tintin as he rushes around the inside of the ship finding and de-fusing time bombs that have been planted by evil Colonel Boris.

The number of bombs that need collecting increases during the game - one for stage one, two for stage two and so on - and the amount of time you have to collect the bombs depends on how many fuel pods you picked up in the previous section. Why does it depend on the number of pods? Because the evil Colonel has also decided to light several fires on board which eat up the fuel (well, anything is possible in cartoon books!), so you also have to rush about extinguishing any fires you come across - once you have found an extinguisher. Find the bombs, put out the fires and release Calculus and Haddock if they happen to get tied up by Boris who is also running about and then it is back to piloting the ship through to the next stage.

Make it to the sixth stage and the third part of the game has you trying to land the rocket on the surface of the moon to complete the whole game.


The opening sequence is terrific and the sprites and backgrounds are jolly well drawn. The animation is a bit iffy though and the sound effects are not the world's greatest. The screen shots show how good the still graphics are, but they are not necessarily so hot once they are moving.


Despite the fact that the game has literally been years in development, it's turned out a disappointment. The gameplay is far too simplistic and shallow to give any satisfaction and after just a short time it becomes very repetitive. Add to this the fact it is easy to lose your one and only life, at which point you have to re-start the whole process, and you are left with a game that is more a wasted than a fulfilled opportunity.

Tintin On The Moon logo

Price: £19.99

It has taken years for a software company to show some sense in licensing probably the greatest comic character ever. Currently enjoying his 50th anniversary, celebrated in a wonderful exhibition during the summer in London, Tintin now makes his small screen debut.

Infogrames have been working on Tintin On The Moon, based on the intrepid hero's troubled journey through the stars. It was published nearly 10 years before the real event and showed some remarkable foresight on the part of Herge as to the real problems of lunar flight - even if Tintin did find ice on the surface.

The possibilities for games design in this game were enormous, but sadly Infogrames have chosen to ignore most of them for a few rather trite mini games. The beginning is promising with a neat opening sequence with some nice samples as the team are ferried to the rocket and take off. The game begins with a tedious phase in which you have to steer the rocket away from asteroids and into the path of energy capsules and red spheres.

Once you have collected enough you move onto the second stage of the game which takes you inside the ship were Colonel Boris, the spy, has tied up Professor Calculus and Captain Haddock and planted a bomb. Fires too begin to break out, and to complete the section you have to put them out, free your friends and discover the location of the bombs. Boris wanders uselessly around the ship, but it is Boris you have to avoid. He will shoot you, sapping your energy. Running through the fires too, will deplete it further. If you fail to extinguish the fires or find the bomb the ship blows up and the game ends.

If you manage to get through the second stage there is a shock in store - the game repeats these two sequences four more times before you have to land the rocket and complete the game. There are no further levels on the moon itself, thus wasting many excellent possibilities. Further game sections could have been added when Tintin has to rescue Snowy after he falls down a crevasse, or when the tank begins to run out of air as they return. In fact Tintin On The Moon could have been designed along Cinemaware lines. Instead an excellent opportunity to create a 16 bit interactive cartoon has been squandered.

The graphics are excellent too, which makes this all the more frustrating. The characters are really identifiable and much of the game resembles Herge's style and his book. It is sad once again to have to say that another great cartoon licence has been thrown away. Infogrames, reportedly had memory problems, but if that is the case why didn't they make it a two disk game? I hope this does not deter them from taking on another Herge book - something like The Crab With The Golden Claws which offers many good opportunities - and doing a good job on it. I am waiting...

Tintin On The Moon logo

Blistering barnacles! The bashi-bazouks have got Tintin and gone and turned him into - gasp - a computer game! Well, leading French software house Infogrames has at least. World renowned Tintinologist Marcus Berkmann donned his plus fours and filed his story...

This game is almost suffocatingly loyal to the Tintin legend. In fact it would have to be - Studios Hergé, the Belgian organisation that owns the rights to Tintin (Hergé himself pegged it in 1983), are unimaginably strict about the use of their beloved boy reporter, and if anything at all is out of place - well, they send the boys round. 'Integrity' is the name of the game (or was it 'massive piles of wonga'? I forget).

Which is probably why we have to wait until now to see any game with Tintin in. I think that is a birrova pity, because for me, Tintin is the tops. There is no greater comic strip art in the century - and Hergé, who started up in 1929, did virtually invent the form. He sold trillions of Tintin books, they are still selling trillions, and they are still brilliantly funny.

But enough of that: let us look at the game. It is a distillation of two of the very best books, Destination Moon and Explorers On The Moon, both first published in the early fifties. What is remarkable, if you read the books now, is not how much Hergé was wring - he was writing way before even Sputnik was launched - but how much he got right. Unfortunately we do not actually see the moon itself in the game - or at least not very much of it. 'Cos the game ends when Tintin gets to the moon. I suppose Tintin On His Way To The Moon But Not Quite Got There Yet was not quite a snappy enough title. (Although the Germans have called it Tim Und Struppi Auf Dem Mond, which is not exactly amazing either).

The game starts with the launch of the rocket (which is based, incidentally, on the German V-2 rockets used during the war). Stage one is the flight of the rocket - you zoom through the ether trying to pick up various little coloured spheres that sit in space waiting to be collected. Yellow ones are fuel (you need this to fly, which makes a certain amount of sense) and red ones give you points - get eight of these and you move onto the next stage. The longer you take to complete this section, the fewer points you get. Crashing into one of the asteroids that appear from time to time (usually just behind a red or yellow sphere) is also likely to slow down your journey a touch.

Get past this and you get into the main gameplay - inside the rocket. Here we get our first glimpse of the game's various characters - Tintin himself (you are he); Snowy, his dog (who yaps a lot); Captain Haddock, the retired seafarer who likes a tipple; Professor Calculus, the scientist whose giant brain has enabled the moon trip to take place in the first place; Wolff, the chief engineer, who appears to be sleepwalking; and Colonel Boris Jurgens, the Bordurian spy who is determined to sabotage the whole mission. The action takes place over six screens, as Colonel Boris sets off bombs, tries to shoot people, takes prisoners and starts small fires all over the place. You have to defuse all the bombs, avoid being shot, free all the prisoners and put out the fires.

If you manage this once, you revert to stage one again, only this time the action is a little faster, there are rather more asteroids and everything is just that weeny bit harder. Past this is another jolly around the ship; this time there are nine rooms and they are all quite different to the ones you saw before. We also meet Thompson and Thompson for the first time, the two incompetent moustached detectives who stow away on the trip and so endanger it at every turn.

Overall there are five phases like this, before you finally arrive at the moon and have to control the rocket's thrusters if you want to land in one piece. Sadly the game then ends - there is no exploration on the moon itself. Still, this is as faithful a licence as we have seen, and as perhaps we will ever see. As the Captain would say, "Billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles in a thundering typhoon!"

Amiga review

Macca: I am always a bit pessimistic about comic to computer conversions. They have no end of cutesy big-eyed graphic potential., but gameplay always seems to be a bit on the thin side and they often end up being a bit... well... crap really. But with Tintin On The Moon, we have got a good storyline, a good intro, good graphics, good gameplay and a good review.

The game starts with a brilliant opening sequence. The scarlet rocket squats silently on the launch pad and the rocket-site bustles with activity. Lights glare in the darkness. Cars and people mill about. A limo charges across the pad. A horn blares. The gangways break and roll back. The countdown starts. Two... one... blam! The rocket streaks away into the night, with atmospheric drums rolling in the background. Brilliant. I loved it. After the intro, the first sub-game is not so graphically retina-detonating. With all its asteroids to avoid and energy pods to collect it is difficult and infuriatingly challenging. Really, you just want to zip through this part and get onto the game proper. Here goes. Ziiiiiiiiiiiiiiip!

Ah, that is better. Now we are into the game proper which is basically a platforms and ladders adventure in space. Tintin (accurate right down to upright quaff and schoolboy shorts) hurtles around the corridors at an amazing pace, followed by heavy-fisted Haddock, eccentric Calculus, and fluffy Snowy. The pace is fast and furious and you must frantically search the six levels for the bomb and fire extinguisher, avoiding Colonel Boris the antagonistic stowaway. He wanders about lighting fires, priming bombs and frazzling you with his laser gun. Each level is interspersed with the rocket and asteroid sequences. So it is action, ziiiiip, action, ziiiiip...

The graphics are brilliant, capturing the look of Herge's original perfectly. The sprites move fast and animate really well, (Tintin himself has over 40 frames of animation), though the flip screen scrolling is a bit disorientating at first. The levels get gradually larger - the first has six screens, the second nine and so on. And they are so addictive - the lure of getting to the later levels, and the thought of an end sequence equal to the opening sequence will keep you a-Tintin-ing until the early hours of the morning.Stop


A fine flock of feckless French frogs for you to feast your yeux on. (Well, you try and think of an f-word meaning "eyes"...)

Everyone identifies with Tintin - especially people with strange hairstyles and anyone who wears the same pair of brown plus-fours for 43 years (he finally got some trousers in Tintin And The Picaros in 1976). He is the hero, and as such has inspired some heroic deeds - a small child in Germany once managed to capture two burglars and turn them over to the police "because that is what Tintin would have done". Even so, much of the time he is a bit of a goodie-goodie.

Lovable old seadog who is very fond of his Loch Lomond whisky (no water). Interesting to obscure the way his character develops from the sad old drunk of his first book, The Crab With The Golden Claws, to the mainly heroic (if still fond of a drop) stalwart of the later volumes. Inherits Marlinspike Hall in Red Rackham's Treasure, upon which he takes up a life of leisure, interrupted only by all the usual adventures.

Tintin's loyal pooch whose initial role as Tintin's confidant was rather eroded by the arrival of Captain Haddock in The Crab. Still, very good at woofing and arfing, with some excellent howling thrown in from time to time. Never seems to need 'taking for a walk'.

Hergé experimented with a number of dotty scientists (including one memorably called Sophocles Sarcophagus) before he plumped for Cuthbert Calculus in Red Rackham's Treasure. Although clearly dippy, and indeed loopy, Calculus also has a gigantic brain, with which he invents things like moon rockets. Hard of hearing (i.e. stone deaf).

Appears only in the Moon books as Calculus' assistant, but then revealed to be... but that would give the plot away. Go and buy the books yourself.

Initially crops up in King Ottokar's Sceptre as a Bordurian spy in the court of the Syldavian king. A thoroughly nasty bit of work, as you can tell by his slicked back hairstyle and piggy little eyes.

The deeply clottish policemen whose forays into national dress are invariably completely ridiculous. Quite early characters, in fact - they first appear in the fifth book, The Blue Lotus, long before Haddock or Calculus. They are still as hopeless 30 years later, though. For the record, Thompson is the one whose moustache curls up.

Captain Haddock is famous for his insults, which he hurls at everyone and anyone who does not live up to his own high standards (e.g. anyone who puts ice in his Loch Lomond). Here is a selection:
Anamorphic aardvark!
Prattling porpoise!
Squawking popinjay
Ectoplasmic by-product!
Carpathian caterpillar!
Freshwater swab!
Raggle-taggle ruminants! (addressed at llamas)

Here we are inside Tintin's rocket. Can you guide Tintin through to put out all the fires, disarm the bombs and scupper the evil Colonel Boris?
Tintin On The Moon
    Pick this up to put the fires out. You have to stand just far enough away from the fires to do this - too far away and you will miss, too near and you will fry. Hard to get right when the colonel is after you.
    Free the wretch just by touching him.
    Pithecanthropus! Squawking popinjay! Lilly-livered bandicoot!
    The "ace" reporter himself. Note trendy blue jumper with elegant pokey-out shirt collars.
    Your energy monitor has a tendency to over-react when you do anything like, say, get shot or incur third-degree burns. Watch out for exploding bombs, too - they do not do it any good either.
    Beware Bordurians brandishing Lugers...
  7. A FIRE
    Well, what are you doing just standing there? Put it out!
    Here is the second best sort of bombs - an unexploded one. The best sort is a defused one - and you can do that just by touching it.

Tintin On The Moon logo

Infogrames, C64 £9.99 cassette, £14,99 disk; Amiga £19.99

Europe's most famous comic character has finally made it onto your home computer. And he's determined to be the first man on the moon!

Swots might protest that there's already been a man on the moon, but of course he wasn't French, so it doesn't count. Sadly, Tintin isn't your typical comic hero and instead of tying his mum's curtains around his neck and up, up and awaying to the Moon, he hitches a ride on a Professor Calculus's rocket ship.

Needless to say Tintin is soon in the pilot's chair, guiding the ship through an asteroid field - to escape he must collect eight red spheres. Yellow spheres boost energy when collected.

However, after escaping it's literally a case of 'out of the frying pan, into the fire'. Fires have broken out in the ship, and must be put out using fire extinguishers. In addition the mad Colonel Jurgen is on the loose. He's tied up various crew members of the crew which Tintin must rescue by walking over them. Jurgen has planted some time bombs and is armed with a pistol. Spray him with the extinguisher to incapacitate him. Unfortunately some of the bombs can't be reached by simply walking over them, Instead Tintin must turn off the artificial gravity and float over them!

Once all the fires have been put out, the bombs deactivated and Jurgen apprehended it's onto the next load - back into the asteroid field. There are five space stages, and five rocket stages (of increasing difficulty and varying layouts) before the final level where Tintin must land the ship on the moon, using just the fire button to reduce speed.

Robin Hogg A wave of nostalgia swept over me when I loaded up Amiga Tintin, the superb start up sequence capturing the flavour of the brilliant comic series. Unfortunately, it seems Hergé himself didn't have much to say in the actual game design (I'm not surprised: he's dead! - Ed) as it's so limited with a shallow space flight section and repetitive platform game. Still, both sections are well presented (on both machines) and there's a certain short-term appeal with two types of game to master.
Stuart Wynne On both Amiga and C64 there's a neat intro, showing the rocket taking off, and the space scene is really nice. The rocket moves really well and the gameplay is good, albeit limited. Once inside the rocket the game begins to disappoint: the flickscreen-scrolling is fine, but the animation is jerky - equally so for C64 and Amiga. Putting out the fires and so on is initially fun, but again limited. Repeating the levels improves the challenge, but while the multiload is fine for disk drive owners, cassette users may come off badly (we haven't seen this version yet; the C64 marks are for disk). All in all, quite a nice game which Tintin fans at least, should find worth the asking price.