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ACCOLADE * £24.99 * 1/2 meg * Keyboard/joystick/mouse * Out now

Here's a quick intro for those not in the know... There's a game called Tetris that features blocks of varying shapes falling vertically down your computer screen intent on nothing more than causing a blockage, thus concluding the action and ending your fun. Fun? But how can one derive fun from such a seemingly futile exercise in basic computer graphics? By preventing the blocks from building up - that's how.

Yes, simply rearrange these little devils into horizontal lines using just a handful of keys, causing them to disappear and consequently elongate your game. Sounds easy, doesn't it? - not to mention boring, pointless and dul. By jiminy though, it's addictive, and possibly the world's most widely played game.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, as with any successful concept, there are those who aspire to the same greatness - Columns, Towers - call them what you will, they're all younger, less meaty brothers of the classic Tetris.

Zyconix is a member of the family too - kind of an incest-spawned, two-headed child with a hair-lip and a limp, if you will, because it does have a few original quirks.

The basic idea is the same - simply do not allow the screen to fill up. Instead of different shaped blocks though, you are bombarded with coloured rectabgles that need placing in colour order, either horizontally or diagonally, to keep your screen clear.
Half a dozen or so different projectiles may fly at your blocks from time to time, and range from bombs and utility blocks to a rebounding ball that constitutes a mini-Blockout game.

As well as the standard mode there are three variations, each one accompanied by its own tune - jazz, rave, funk or soul, whereby you choose whether to race against time, go for bonuses, and other such shenanigans. There is even a two-player mode, played side by side.

Overall Zyconix is a very competent variation on a theme, but Accolade may find that many people are unwilling to pay full price for a game that appears in many forms in budget and PD libraries.
Having said that, unless you already own a so-called Tetris-clone, you could do worse than check it out - it's fun, addictive and one of the best of its kind on the market.

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ACCOLADE * £24.99

Oh, not another Tetrisy thing. Hasn't the world got fed up of these pile-em-ups yet? But hang on, that is a bit weird - you move the coloured blocks from column to column as they are falling. You do not pile the colours vertically, they have to be diagonally or horizontally. Errmm... interesting! Come on, let me have a go!

The original falling object puzzle game, Tetris, was shape-based. This one, like many later Tetris-style games, involves matching colours. You have to get four of the same colour in a row, and then they disappear. Simple enough...

Yet we are often amazed by the way the simplest things make for such addictive game play. Tetris is without a doubt a classic, but now it has had its day. There are such great clones out now, both full price and PD, that the original fades in glory every day.

If you fancy giving a different pile-em-up a try, we can highly recommend Zyconix, even if it is just for being so incredibly addictive.

Die Leiche lebt?

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Traurig, aber Warzensschwein: Ausgerechnet die Macher des genialen Schauerstücks "Elvira" wollen uns nun mit einem faden "Tetris"-Aufguß das Gruseln beibringen.

Zugegeben, horrormäßig schlecht ist Accolades Mischung aus "Tetris" und "Klax" nun auch wieder nicht - aber die gruftige Spielidee ist allemal für eine Gänsehaut gut: Bunte Steinchen schweben einen Becher hinab und türmen sich solage am Boden auf, bis der obere Rand erreicht ist.

Um das zu verhindern, bedient man sich der guten alten "Klax"-Methode und ordnet gleichfarbige Brocken (je nach Schwierigkeitsgrad) in Dreier- bis Sechsergruppen an, auf daß die aufliegenden Stapel nach unten rutschen, denn nur so entsteht Platz für neue Stapeleien.

Klingt langweilig? Ist es zwischenzeitlich im Grunde auch, selbst wenn die Programmierer zusätzlich drei leicht unterschiedliche Spielvarianten sowie ein paar Extras auf die Disk gepackt haben: Mal fallen Jokersteine vom Himmel, dann hilft eine Breakout-Kugel bei den Abbrucharbeiten, eine BOnusrunde fehlt ebenfalls nicht, und im Zwei-SPieler-Modus darf sogar gleichzeitig geackert werden. Trotzdem, selbst auf dem PD-Markt gibt es bereits anspruchsvollere Hektik-Knobeleien; die blasse Grafik kann kaum überzeugen, und in den höheren Leveln steigert sich nur das Tempo, nicht aber der Spielwitz.

Da ist es halt nur ein scwacher Trost, daß man sich die Begleitmusik aus vier verschiedenen Stilrichtungen aussuchen darf und die Steuerung mit Stick, Maus und Tastatur gleichermaßen gut klappt - Zyconix kommt schlicht und ergreifend ein paar Järchen zu spät! (rl)

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Is it a new miracle drug? No, it's a puzzley tile game thing.

These days it is hard to find original ideas for computer games. It is just like anything else - books, movies, you name it. There are only so many things you can do with a game. Unfortunately some people seem to spend less time thinking of new ideas than they should. Combing elements of other games is all very nice but it needs to be done in such a way that the person buying the game feels they are getting a completely new game. Now meet Zyconix. A clash of Tetris, Klax and Puzznic and it looks like all of them.

Puzzle games seem to fall into two categories - tiles or no tiles (but mostly tiles). I am amazed no one has been able to come up with anything a little more original. Isn't it worrying that all these great games creators are at work and all they come up with is tiles?

More pleasing to the eye than a lot of tile games

Anyway, back to Zyconix. Tiles fall down the screen and you have to place them in lines to get rid of them. Haven't we been doing that for the last couple of years with just about every other 'tile' game going? When these games started coming out a couple of years ago people were dumbfounded at how addictive they were, but times change and the games haven't. Having said that, Zyconix is not a bad little brain teaser. It's certainly more pleasing to the eye than a lot of other 'tile' games I could mention. You don't get the eye strain and serious headaches that other games lead to.

With four different games in there it will live longer than some of the lesser puzzle games but they all suffer from the 'bored brainless after two hours' routine. The only saving grace with these games now are the two player modes and, thank God, Zyconix has one. It adds so much to the game when you can trash the living daylights out of a friend or relation. (Why can't we just all live together and love each other for once? - Ed)

More pleasing to the eye it may be, but more pleasing to the brain it isn't. After a couple of hours I began to feel more than a little bored. I don't know what kind of person could spend days on end addicted to games like this but I for one certainly wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alleyway. This kind of thing is all right for an hour or two right after you've bought it, but then they lose all the appeal they may have had. Twenty-six quid for something that's only going to keep your attention for an hour or two is an awful lot of money to have to pay out.

Still, this has to have the most apt music I have heard in any game. After all the rave stuff on the title screen the game defaults into a jazzy piece that would fit in at the sleaziest night club you have ever seen, it is perfect. There are other music options but the jazz with its piano and other instruments sounds the best by far.

While a game like Tetris genuinely has people coming back to it when they have some spare time (it seems to in this office anyway), Zyconix does not have that ' Well, one more game while the kettle boils' effect on anyone. It is a classic case of ' it's good, but not that good'. It just does not offer anything new to make it a hit. But it does not miss the mark by very much, and you could do worse.

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Accolade Europe, £19.99

When the arcade game Tetris was released it was an instant smash, mainly because of the simplicity of the design and the addictiveness of the gameplay. There have been so many copies and PD ripoffs since its original release, most of which have been, at best, no better than the original. No one has attempted to do something different with the game concept, until now.

Zyconix is the name of Accolade Europe's challenger. Where the name comes from, I don't know, but you can instantly see that it has been based loosely around the Tetris-format, with some extremely welcome changes to the gameplay.

The concept itself is basically the same, but instead of trying to build straight lines with various different shapes, the idea is to make horizontal and diagonal lines with a never ending supply of small square blocks which slowly fall from the top of the playing area. The blocks vary in colour and the lines that the player construct have to be a matching colour before they disappear.

The player controls a square cursor which has to be placed over a falling block before its position can be altered. By holding the fire button down and moving the joystick, a block can be freely moved and placed into the desired position.

Over the various levels there are all manner of helpful tools and annoying gadgets which can help or hinder your performance. These include mines, transparent blocks, disintegrator bats, spikes and even Arkanoid style balls which fly around the screen and destroy all the blocks that get in their path.

There are different levels of play which cater for a wide range of capabilities. The difficulty of the gameplay is represented by four different characters who all have their own game style. They are Louis, Dazza, Spry and Shazza.

Initially, I liked Zyconix and was pleased to see a good variant on the Tetris theme, but after playing the game for some time things got a bit tedious. The control system can also be extremely annoying as you can unwittingly loose control of a block and end up plonking it right where you did not want it.

I would only really recommend this game to hardcore Tetris fans who would welcome a change to the game style, or to puzzle freaks who like to test their mental agility once in a while.