Downhill all the way

Tom and Jerry logo

THERE can be few people who have not heard of Tom and Jerry, the funniest double-act responsible for bringing more gratuitous violence to our screen then Rambo, The Professionals and Eastenders combined.

With the exception of the later cartoons, which at generous assessment were rubbish, most of their adventures have stood the test of time and still manage to be funny at the fifteenth time of viewing. So if it works for a cartoon, the same zany formula should work for a computer game. Right? Well it is a good theory.

The game's opening credits are promising, with accurate renditions of both characters, and the Amiga's sound capabilities reproduce Tom's manic laughter perfectly. The action, such as it is, takes place in various places about the house that are linked by Jerry's mouseholes.

The aim is to guide Jerry through rooms, over shelves and furniture, devouring as much cheese as possible within the time limit of 500 seconds. Tom is in hot pursuit and for every time he catches Jerry you lose 30 seconds. Jerry risks losing a lot more.

You can fight back by dropping books, bananas, bowling balls and other sundry items of cartoon mayhem on Tom and, when all else fails, you can escape down the nearest mousehole.

While inside the mousehole, you have to dodge a series of explosive obstacles and traps at high speed, accompanied by a soundtrack that sounds as if it is played by a turbocharged Russ Conway on a Bon-Tempi organ.

After about 30 seconds or so it all becomes very boring indeed, which is a shame because the concept is good and the graphics are not bad. There must be scope for a good Tom and Jerry game somewhere. This one isn't it.

Tom and Jerry 2 logo

Ein neues Spiel zu programmieren ist unheimlich aufwendig und kostenintensiv. Es gibt auch eine günstigere Lösung: Recycling!

Pfiffig sind sie ja, die Leute von Magic Bytes: Wenn schon Routinen für ein Tom & Jerry Spiel bestehen, warum sie nicht auch gleich für den zweiten Teil verwenden? Ergebnis: Teil II unterscheidet sich so gut wie gar nicht vom Vorgänger!

Es geht also erneut darum, Käse einzusammeln, vor Tom zu flüchten und ihm gemeine Streiche zu spielen. Jerry wirft dem Kater wieder alle mögliche Gegenstände an den Kopf, bringt ihn zum Ausrutschen und lenkt ihn durch Musikinstrumente und manch anderes Gerät von der wilden Jagd ab.

Aber nicht genug damit, daß Grafik und Handlung größtenteils übernommen wurden, auch genau dieselbe Einschlafmelodie dudelt aus dem Lautsprecher! Ja, man hat es nicht einmal für nötig befunden, die unpräzise Steuerung zu verbessern.

Nennenswerte Neuerungen gibt es nur bei den Hintergrundgrafiken und den verschiedenen Ablenkungsmanövern außerdem sind es diesmal vier Level.

Wenn ihr mich fragt: Tom & Jerry II ist das überflussigste Game, das man sich vorstellen kann! Aber ich gönne es Magic Bytes durchaus: Sollen sie doch mit ein paar veränderten Grafiken, derselben Steuerung, dem identischen Sound, ja eigentlich dem gleichen Spiel nochmals ihren Reibach machen - solange wenigstens Ihr nicht darauf hereinfallt! (Carsten Borgmeier)

Tom and Jerry logo

Magic Bytes
Price: £24.99 disk

Jerry is the cutest mouse you ever did see, but that nasty Tom cat wants to get him...'. Hold on a minute, are we talking about the same vicious, sadistic little rodent we all know and love? The mouse who drops irons on Tom's head and plugs his tail into the mains, surely not? From Magic Bytes badly translated manual you would never know, or perhaps this is just their strange Germanic sense of humour.

There are two possibilities, either Tom & Jerry is so radically brilliant it will have been worth an eighteen month wait, or it is so dismal they could not put it off any longer. See if you can guess which from this short description: it is a platform game. You drop 'bombs' on Tom's head, you have to eat a lot of cheese.

Tom & Jerry's gameplay is so mind numbingly boring it even makes an evening in the pub with Mike Pattenden seem like a seven goal Wembley Cup final. (You are funny! - Ed). Jerry has to leap from piece to piece of furniture and shelving avoiding Tom's leaping attacks. Items like the sofa can be used, with repeated bouncing, to gain the height necessary to make the jumps onto the top shelves.

Only on the highest shelves are you safe from attack, which makes it a particularly difficult game to play because getting up there is nigh impossible without getting stomped by the cat and when you are up there, unless there happens to be a bomb drop, there is nothing to do.

Fortunately there are a couple of distractions thrown in. Jerry can adjust the telly which has the effect of keeping Tom glued to the goggle-box for a couple of minutes and he can adjust the radio, which rather unhelpfully makes both of them dance about with glee.

I am afraid the rest of the game is not even up to that standard of inspiration. The sound is a poor imitation of the Tom & Jerry theme, but the graphics are of a reasonably quality, the sprites are large and well defined, although movement is slow and bulky, Tom being especially bad. However good they were, they could not relieve game play that combines being very dull with being very difficult. Not a winning combination.

Tom & Jerry is a license which had great potential for a game, plenty of gratuitous violence and lightning pace, all Magic Bytes have put into this is the barest minimum to get it into the ships with a nice picky on the back with the hope that some hapless soul has not read a review like this. Less of a Merrie Melodie and more of a dismal dirge, Magic Bytes should stick to songwriting, here is a gem from their instruction manual:
'Dutch cheese is red/ Danish is blue/ German cheese smells like an old jogger's shoe'.

PRICE: £24.95 cass; £14.99 disk
Without the decent sound and graphics of the Amiga, the 64 version has very little to recommend it. They do not even do a dance when you put the radio on. What a swizz.

Tom and Jerry logo

Magic Bytes, C64 £9.99 cassette, £19.99 disk; Amiga £24.99

Everyone knows that mice like cheese and that cats like mice (to eat!) but the instructions to Tom and Jerry explain that Tom doesn't want Jerry for his dinner and only chases him for fun (that's news to me - Jerry). Starting in the living room Jerry runs and jumps around five horizontally-scrolling levels (ranging from the nursery to the garage), looking for huge wedges of cheese to scoff - he must eat it all within the ever decreasing time limit to win the game.

Jerry can use springy sofas and chairs to bounce up high places but he must keep an eye out for the chasing Tom who tries to knock him onto the ground where he can catch him, taking 30 valuable seconds off the time limit. Time can be regained by entering one of the mouseholes that connect the five levels: Jerry runs through a 3-D scrolling tunnel, collecting cheese (for extra time) while avoiding bombs (reduce time).

Just like in the cartoons Jerry can perform a variety of neat tricks to keep Tom at bay. Objects can be knocked off shelves onto Tom's head. Banana skins can also be dropped - if Tom steps on one he slides straight off the screen. Other ways to distract Tom include changing the channel on the TV, opening the icebox (fridge to you and me), activating a jack-in-the-box, opening a car door, and unveiling an abstract statue.

Phil King The best thing about Tom and Jerry is the slapstick humour which is animated well enough. When Tom gets knocked on the head by a bowling ball he is surreally squashed while the results of treading on a banana skin are hilarious. Laughter aside though, frustration is caused by the fact that Jerry is difficult to control and often gets stuck in the furniture. Furthermore, there's too little gameplay content to keep you coming back for more: a severe case of 'that's all folks!!!'.
Stuart Wynne After the horrendous Pink Panther, Magic Bytes have now moved on to even more famous cartoon stars. Thankfully, Tom and Jerry is a bit better - on the C64 the graphics are good and gameplay initially quite playable. On the Amiga there's a good continuous tune, but graphics are disappointing on both machines and gameplay soon proves repetitive. Tom and Jerry is a very basic platform-and-ladders game which even the most ardent fan should think twice about purchasing.