|★ AMSTRAD CPC ★ GAMESLIST ★ FLUFF (c) RADICAL SOFTWARE ★|
So, is it the platform game to end all platform games? At last Simon Forrester can give you the definitive answer...
Okay, we admit it We were hedging our bets last monlh in the preview We wanted to say we liked the game, but we went out of our way to nit-pick, just in case what Radical finally produced didn't live up to the promise of the preview version of the game we saw. All that's behind us now, though, as the long-awaited Fluff comes under the reviewer's hammer over the next two pages.
It's a Plus-only, horizontal scroller, and it's been billed (by the author) as having ttie best gameplay ever on the CPC It's here things get difficult lor Fluff. If a game is going lor a title like, ‘best gameplay ever", it'd be wise to steer clear of such extensively explored genres such as the platform game. Still. there hasn't been a perfect platform game yet (though Prehistorik came close), so it's still m with a chance.
The power of the press
In last month's preview. Clur, Dave and I an had a chance lo comment on what we thought of the game so far. Dave was, in his own words, churlish. I realy have no idea what ‘churksh' means, so I'll summarise; he decided that though the gameplay gets bogged down occasionally with programming techniques, this is only what the consoles have been doing for years, so thaf s okay
Clur recognised an obvious potential in the game, but still worried about a few elements that might get on her nerves when playing it.
I personally (being a picky little sod) had a few reservations about the movement of Fluff. and the smoothness of some of the animations The sequel to the fabulous Elite. namely Frontier. (available on the PC and Amiga right now) is suffering the same problem - its gameplay goes deeper than any other game ever, but it was presented about as well as the Bril Awards. I then went into the realms of propeller head comments, and picked on the programming. I feel sort of guilty for this really, as apparently Rob Buckley then went and reprogrammed a largish chunk of the game. Has it done him any good?
When you first pick up the joystick and start playing, you'll notice immediately the attention to detail. Whereas many other platformers would have been content to let you wander past the same type of graphics throughout the entire game, each of Fluffs levels has a distinct, unique feel to it. In the classic platform game style, there's an icy level, an industrial metallic zone and all the other cliched zones, but we can't hold that against it - you're no more slippy on ice than you are on metal, so it's nothing to knock marks off (or put marks on) for - they're just graphics to liven up the levels a bit.
New improved Fluff
Fluff herself handles quite well (there aren't many times you can get away with saying "she handles quite well". but fve managed well so fart. As opposed to the preview version we saw. the new improved Fluff is lairfy heavy, and doesn't have the reluctance to get up to speed that she used to -she's still Eot inertia, but it complements the game instead ol getting in the way.
The bad guys are all very straightforward, usually moving in a set pattern within a predefined area, so they're fairly easy to kill, using Fluff's spinning abilities to mash up even the hardest of pterodactyls.
So Ruff tourneys through 12 scary, hostile levels, rescuing her four kiddies who repetitively run off at the start of each one. Level one should have been a quest for a playpen, and level two should have rewarded her with a padlock. We wouldn't need to play through the other 10. Of course, such technology isnl available to our pink fluffy tiling, and so she's destined to roam 10 more dangerous, torturous levels, rescuing her kids,
The levels aren't all the same, though - there are the distinctive differences; some have teleports, while others automatically scroll whether you like it or not But they all have the basic elements of Fluff - platforms, Kiddies and lots of decent, old-fashioned gameplay. Breaking the mould of most games for the CPC, Fluff is actually incredibly good fun. It's not faithful to any arcade original, a poor second to a 16 bit version, or a classic game dragged from the mists of time It's a platform game, and it's fun That's all.
It's incredibly lush to look at - everything is beautifully drawn, the scrolling's smooth, the animation is wonderful (and Rob Buckley clam it'll be even better by the time it goes on sale), and things move too fast rather than too slowly.
One part of the game that's been added since we last saw it (other than ten of the levels) is the sound. There are no individual sound effects for either Fluff or the bad guys, but there is a running theme of sorts; it owes more to industrial-acid-jazz than to normal musical form, but it's a decent enough tune that thumps away w the background.
One of the problems with the preview version was speed - the game either ran too fast to cope with, or too slow to tolerate. The final version has definitely overcome this problem. There's no slow-down when the screen gets cluttered, and there's no long, boring wait for your little pink valkyrie to get up to speed.
The level are ingeniously designed - there are secret passages in abundance on later levels, along with conveyor belts, lakes with secrets in their depths and all manner of other goodies which I won't spoil by telling you about One reason for making each level so different is to give the player a sense that they're getting somewhere; disguising the same objects in different graphical guises isn't going to cut it. Fluff doesn't even try to pull a fast one - every level has some distinguishing features.
The wait is over
My kingdom lor a verdict. There are a lew reasons why I'm loathe to give Fluff higher than, ooh - 90 per cent. First, there's a slight problem with the difficulty curve, because the second level sticks out as being too tricky, considering that level three is easier by far. And there are no real original ideas in the game - everthing's been done before, admittedly not as wet, but there's no real hook or gimmick to the game other than its speed and superb graphics. Perhaps some power-ups that gave Fluff some special powers would have given the game that extra spark of personality.
And it's a shame the game's Plus only, but that's one of the reasons it's so damned good; if the game had been written to run on ad machines, it wouldn't run as fast or as well - it's Plus only, disc only and better off that way.
So Fluff is an impressive piece of coding that undeniably shows off the Plus at'its best in technical terms, and as a game it's certainly hugely enjoyable But there's still room for better platformer , I reckon
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L'Amstrad CPC est une machine 8 bits à base d'un Z80 à 4MHz. Le premier de la gamme fut le CPC 464 en 1984, équipé d'un lecteur de cassettes intégré il se plaçait en concurrent du Commodore C64 beaucoup plus compliqué à utiliser et plus cher. Ce fut un réel succès et sorti cette même années le CPC 664 équipé d'un lecteur de disquettes trois pouces intégré. Sa vie fut de courte durée puisqu'en 1985 il fut remplacé par le CPC 6128 qui était plus compact, plus soigné et surtout qui avait 128Ko de RAM au lieu de 64Ko.