Over the years we've all become accustomed to an absolute menagerie of heroes from the animal kingdom. Well here's the latest, Jethro the beaver! Apart from having an extremely soft name for anyone (let alone a beaver), our Jeth is an axe-swinging rock 'n' roller in a band. Now if you were thinking it, you're absolutely right. I's yet another surreal plot for dare I say it, yet another platform game.
So right now what I'm not going to do is give you a full-blown lecture on the ups and downs of this particular genre, and how for every classic like Zool and Putty there's a level guardian full of rubbish. Ah! Did I lecture you? Oh well! On with the "plot"...
According to the loading screens, Jethro has a furry female friend who has captured the attention of the game's bad-ass. In this case it's a gun-toting rabbit, who does the dirty and kidnaps Jethro's piece of "beaver".
Now what the hell this rabbit wants with her I honestly can't imagine. If I remember the birds and bees well enough, rabbits get together with other little bunnies, not strapping great log-eating beavers. But whatever turns you on.
I suppose you've guessed it by now anyway, but rather than going round to said rabbit's hutch and shoving your carrot (that's quite enough... Ed) and you have to bounce and spin your way through 20-odd levels of platform pranks.
There are four different types of screen that go together to comprise the action. They vary between underwater sections to extremely slippery snowy levels. But by far the hardest are the auto-scrolling sections where the slightest hesitation with the joystick results in the untimely demise of our hero.
Of course there are other aspects to the game. We all know the bonus hoops in the Sonic games. Well sure enough Beavers follows suit completely. The only difference is that it's starfish rather than hoops that guarantee points for prizes.
Apart from that there is the usual variety of frustrating traps, puzzles and nasties. On the subject of nasties, every sixth level sports an extremely large nasty who pops up to hinder your progress.
Overall there isn't a great deal I can comment on regarding the gameplay. It's all fairly straightforward with plenty of jumping around, flipping the baddies with your tail, pressing the odd switch here and there to operate lifts and searching for Davy Crockett hat (don't ask me why) to complete the stage. The graphics are what I can only describe as cuddly and are reasonably well animated.
The level guardians that crop up from time to time are very large sprites and are fairly well defined. But the backdrops are nothing to write home about, in particular the borders, which are both bland and crude.
In the sound department, Beavers rates as reasonable. The sound effects are decent enough but the theme tune doesn't seem to tie in too well with the gameplay and ends up being about as useful as a beaver with foam teeth.
Overall my main gripe is the total lack of response from the control system. When using the joystick, especially in the auto scrolling levels, absolute dexterity is imperative and this just doesn't happen. This feeling of lack control over your destiny has a serious effect on the addiction of this game.
It becomes, to be frank, bloody frustrating, and I ended up switching off to watch my colleague pick his nose.
To sum up, Beavers is fairly cute, cuddly and in places quite entertaining fun. But once you've set eyes on all the graphic styles, messed around in the water and generally beavered about, it's all pretty repetitive stuff.
I can't help feeling that if gamers are going to be tempted into parting with the very best part of £26 then programmers are going to have to stretch the parameters a mite further up the log flume in this rather exhausted game genre.
To be honest, in this instance Grandslam are as guilty as the next because Beavers really is run of the water mill!