THE No 1 film this Christmas is making a bid to be the top selling game in the New Year. Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the movie, uses traditional and computer effects to produce an amazing film. If you have not seen it you should. And it might be best to stop reading this review because it will give away some of the plot.
Toontown is the home of all the cartoon characters. Many of them work at the studio of R.K. Maroon (played by Alan Tilvern in the film) in the real world, popping home to Toontown at night.
The good thing about being a Toon is that nothing can hurt you, having a fridge dropped on your head is all in a day's work for Roger Rabbit (Charles Fleicher).
Unfortunately, Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) has plans to level Toontown and turn it into an exit for a new freeway. To further this aim the judge has developed a fluid called "the dip" which will erase toons, and so must be handled with rubber gloves. He cannot touch the town because it belongs to Marvis Acme (Stubby Kaye).
But Marvin has been playing Pat-a-cake with Roger's wife, so when he gets killed R. Rabbit is the prime suspect. The judge wants to dip Roger for killing Marvin and then dip the whole of Toontown to make way for the freeway.
The Toons have only one hope. They must find Marvin's will and get it to the gag factory before midnight and crush Judge Doom's claim to the land. Marvin was a bit of a joker (watch out for the hand buzzer - gets 'em every time), and has written his will in disappearing, reappearing ink.
In the game you play Roger. You have to drive to the club where Marvin left his will, pick up all the napkins and bits of paper and then drive to the gag factory. The car, Benny the Cab (Charles Fleicher), is a Toon and so must avoid the puddles of dip on the road, either by driving over the buildings or by leaping the puddles. If you touch the dip you collect a barrel of the stuff and are shown a map which lets you see how close you are to your destination.
Collect five barrels and the game is over, Toontown is lost and you have to re-boot. Pretty naff, eh?
By raising Benny's suspension you can pick up tires (sic), diamonds and gloves to help you on your way. The tires (still sic) make Benny drive faster, which will give you more time at the club. The gloves protect Benny from the dip and the diamond decrements the barrel count - effectively an extra life.
All this is set to a brilliant arpeggio tune in keeping with the 1947 period for the film. You have to dodge other cars; the brilliantly animated crashes are not fatal but slow you down.
When you reach the club you have to run around the tables and pick up the papers. If Roger touches a whisky he will go crazy, but the worst hazard is a gorilla which will throw Roger out of the club.
From here it is back to the road and to the gag factory to do battle with the evil judge.
In the factory you have to pick up and use the tricks lying around. The game comes with a pamphlet which describes the different gadgets in a cute 1947 way. It also serves to protect the game.
At intervals you are asked a question about one of the gags. If you get it wrong the game resets. This means that the discs can be copied to a hard drive - a recommended procedure since there is a lot of disc access, which slows the game.
The film has 390 people in the credit list, the game apes this with a who is who in the Amiga world. The program was written by Eric Daniels and Reichart von Wolfschield of Silent Software.
The ever so cute graphics are by top notch Amiga artist Sachs and there are credits to Ben Fuller - famous for project D - Heidi Turnipseed - famous for the Photon Paint manual - and Leo Schwarb - famous for being Leo Schwarb - along with a long list of notables and nobodies.
But is it a good game? Well it is pretty and the music is great. It carries off the film link better than any game since Ghostbusters. Filling two discs is an achievement. I am hooked but I suspect that part of this is a love for the film and when that wears off so will the appeal of the game. Best described as out-Cinemawarring Cinemaware.