One Step Beyond logo

If it's a taxing and fiendish puzzle you're after, then you may be disappointed, but if you like cheesy, corn flavoured snacks you're in luck...

Hey you! Don't watch that, watch this... Erm, no! There are no pyjama wearing keyboard players here, just an average puzzle game and a heap of product placement. This is the follow up to the spiffing Push-Over, and like that game it's no holds bar, advert for Quavers.

Once again there is some stupid precept for the game involving Colin Curly, you know, the bulldog in the yellow suit. But this time, he is the 'hero', and ant-y hero GI is nowhere to be seen.

Colin has entered cyberspace. In true Tron fashion he has been miniaturised, then digitised and is stuck in his own (distinctly generic) computer. We won't go in to the details of how Colin gets in there, but suffice to say if you buy the game you will find the whole first disk of the two disk set is a (nicely animated) intro sequence that you can't skip, no matter how many mouse and fire buttons you press. The problem is that the first disk, the one that could have been full of more and better levels, is just a commercial. And guess what? Although it's a two disk game, does it make use of two disk drives? Don't be stoopid.

My other gripe about the intro is it keeps pausing while the disk is accessed. The thing is, if PD coders can run a non-stop animation why can't Ocean's finest manage more than five seconds at a time?

So once you've endured the advert, you're bound to get a first class game. I mean, after they got all that corporate cash, they must be able to devote twice the time to coding and game design? Well don't hold your breath, but at least Ocean have passed some of the benefits of sponsorship on to the end user in the form of a reduced price.

Tricky traverses
Somewhere, beneath the layers of corporate bull, there is a game in here. It's a puzzle game. Colin, trapped in these silicon valleys between microchip mountains, has to traverse a series of tricky screens to get from one Quaver zone to the next. Each time he reaches a Quaver zone he gets to dive into a huge (oh! Hold on a minute, Col's been miniaturised, so the packet's only normal sized!) pack of cheesy snacks.

Colin gets through each screen by jumping from one Quavers packet to another via a series of red platforms. Hey, this is a platform game! But every time he leaps off a platform the thing disappears. So it's basically a get from here to there without retracing your steps sort of a thing. But there are complications. Colin can jump up to platforms, so he can retrace his steps if he is careful and uses alternate platforms.

And he can only jump diagonally up and down, and straight down. Wait a minute, there has to be a better way to say that. Ah, yes! Colin can jump in any direction except for straight up, because if there is a platform for him to land on, then it's in the way of him jumping vertically.

There are, of course, even more complications. Some platforms don't behave like all the rest (see What the platforms do box). So in the end you're left with a game which is similar to Skweek, or Bombuzal.

Not hard and not clever
Games like this are always entertaining for the first few levels. Whether they survive beyond this initial interest depends on the difficulty curve and the ingenuity of the puzzles.

Sadly One Step Beyond's curve is too shallow, at first playing I motored through to level 25 without a mishap. And even when the levels get more difficult, they are just more difficult. Not fiendish, tricky or clever... just hard. So finishing them simply isn't rewarding enough.

The backgrounds, animation and control method are gorgeous. But these are a distinct second to gameplay. And while One Step Beyond? If you hate puzzle games, then this is the game for you? I can't say those things, for a start they aren't true and the fact is that if you do like puzzle games, you'll probably like this. But the chances are that you'll find the problems much too one dimensional and simple. If you don't like puzzle games, it's a real brain teaser to think of one reason why you have even read this far.


WHAT THE PLATFORMS DO

One Step Beyond
The basic platform shuts after one jump.

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These stay open regardless.

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These platforms must be closed in order.

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Timed platforms close after a delay.

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These retract and extend alternatively...

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These retract neighbouring platforms.

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These extend neighbouring platforms.

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Ray shutters lose all diagonals.

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This jumps you up by two levels.

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This drops you into the next level.

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Sends you diagonally to the upper left.

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Sends you diagonally to the upper right.



Ein Steiniger Weg

One Step Beyond logo

Mit der originellen Domino-Knobelei "Push-Over" landete Ocean letztes Jahr einen feinen Überraschungserfolg im Tüftellager - da braucht der Sponsor "Quavers" nicht lange zu neuerlichen Brainstorming überredet zu werden!

Und wo die englischen Kartoffelchips sind, da ist das Firmenmaskottchen Colin nicht weit. Diesmal hat sich der bullige Köter allerdings nicht mit einem Gastauftritt im Intro begnügt, sondern seinem Freund G.I. Ant (dem Ameisen-Hauptdarsteller des Vorgängers) die Hauptrolle abgejagt.

Im Vorspann sehen wir also Colin, wie er friedlich Chips knabbert und eine Runde "Push-Over" zockt, als er plötzlich in den Computer gesogen wird wo 100 vertrackte Plattform-Screens auf ihn warten: In jedem Level sind Steine postiert, die alle unter Zeitdruck verschwinden müssen, damit der verfressene Hund an seine geliebten "Quavers" gelangt - und in weiterer Folge den Ausgang in die Heimat findet.

Ein gezielter Hopser auf so einen Stein läßt diesen nun in der Versenkung verschwinden, zu beachten ist dabei aber, daß der winzige, jedoch nett animierte Cartoon-Wauwau den Klotz mit der Knabbertüte als letzten bespringt.

Freilich hört sich das simpler an, als es ist, schließlich können die Steine mit 11 verschiedenen Sonderfunktionen aufwarten. Da gibt es welche, die sich beim Draufhüpfen in Wohlgefallen auflösen, andere wiederum befördern den behaarten Helden ohne Zwischenstop in alle Himmelsrichtungen.

Besonders fies sind jene Steine, welche die bislang geleistete Arbeit zunichte machen, indem sie sämtliche bereits versorgten Kollegen einer Reihe wieder zum Vorschein bringen. Dann trifft man noch auf numerierte Steine, Pausenstein oder solche, die (ähnlich wie beim Vorgänger) mit einer Verzögerungstaktik arbeiten.

Kurzum, ohne eine sorgfältig ausgeklügelte Spring-Strategie kommt man nicht sehr weit: als Belohnung winken ein Paßwort sowie ein Bonus, der es möglich macht, besonders knifflige Levels ab einer bestimmte Stelle zu wiederholen.

Die wunderbar exakt arbeitende Sticksteuerung legt dem Spielspaß jedenfalls keine Steine in den Weg, außerdem sind die Puzzles erfreulich logisch aufgebaut. Die Grafik ist nicht mehr ganz so drollig wie seinerzeit bei "Push-Over" (nur noch abstrakte Hintergründe), den Titeltrack hat man dafür direkt übernommen und ein wenig aufgemöbelt. Macht aber nur die Hälfte, denn im Lauf der Zeit kommen als Dreingabe noch ein paar neue Ohrwürme hinzu.

Insgesamt also eine spritzige Action-Logelei, die mit der leicht abgewandelten Spielidee des Vorkämpfers für frischen Wind im mittlerweile doch ein wenig eingerosteten Genre sorgt.
Anders gesagt: kein Dominoeffekt mehr, aber immer noch so etwas wie Suchteffekt! (md)



One Step Beyond logo

When it comes to the crunch, this top new Colin Curly puzzler will have you literally quavering with excitement.

Never in my life have I been a great fan of crisps. Or chocolate, or fizzy drinks for that matter. Given the choice of masses of over-processed, over-priced foods, I tend to turn away in revulsion and opt for a pint of semi-skimmed milk, a banana and a small handful of cashew nuts every time.

However, full-time production editor and part-time human Dave Green was quick to point out that snack foods from a sizeable part of many people's diets and are also a multi-million pound industry in their own right, so I thought that this would be an appropriate time to take you into the incredible world of poorly-researched Snax Facts!

* SNAX FACT: Although Colin Curly (that funny scamp who features in the game One Step Beyond) has always worked for Quavers, he'll have recently found a new name on the bottom of his pay cheque, as Quavers, are now owned by Walkers, whereas previously they were made by that great British institution, Smiths Crisps.

* SNAX FACT: One Step Beyond may be the second game to carry the Colin Curly moniker, but curiously it's the first to actually feature the character. Pushover starred a strange little ant bloke, but Colin features heavily throughout One Step Beyond. In fact, he's the only character in the game. Just as well that he's well-animated then, with each jump, fall and trampoline done in the same style as the character that implores you to buy, buy, buy.

There's the obligatory funny bit where he looks bored when nothing happens for a few seconds, a great bit where he starts a ump looking all happy and self-satisfied, then worried when he realises he's going to fall, and even that bit where he goes all curly. Just like in the TV advert.

* SNAX FACT: By the end of this year, the setting up of the Economic Community will affect even crips consumers. Directive 92/15, as ratified in Brussels this June, states that all crisps must conform to the EC Homogeneous Colour Group Packaging Restrictions (Potato Snacks. Fried) which will bring all wayward producers into line. From November 23rd of this year, it will be technically illegal to put cheese and onion crisps in bags of any colour other than green. Similarly, roast chicken flavoured must be packaged in orange, and unless prawn cocktail are bagged in pink, the producers will be liable to a hefty fine and even long prison sentences.

At the time of writing, the company that offends the most are Walkers, who use blue packs for cheese and onion, green for salt and vinegar and red for ready salted. These are in DIRECT VIOLATION of the EC directive, and unless they change their ways soon, could bring about a managerial incarceration bigger than the Guinnes scandal of the late '80s.

* SNAX FACT: Although they share the same name, Robert Smith has nothing to do with Smith Crisps. A good way to tell them apart is this: Robert Smith is the overweight singer of The Cure, who's yet to realise that his lipstick and make-up image only used to work because he was thin, and the other makes crisps.

* SNAX FACT: In a similar way to Colin Curly has nothing to do with our very own Colin The Publisher, who's actually our, er, publisher. And not curly at all, in any real sense.


One Step Beyond looks deceptively dull

* SNAX FACT: One Step Beyond is a puzzle game so no nasties to jump on or rings to pick up, just a test of one dog-type animal against a series of platforms and the clock. The idea's to close all the platforms within the time limit before then jumping into the bag of Quavers, and every time Colin jumps off a platform, it automatically slides shut. This in itself is a bit tricky, as it's very easy to end up stranded at the other side of the screen, with all the in-between platforms already shut, but there's, as crap TV comedian used to say, more.

* SNAX FACT: The first crisp was invented by a Mrs Theresa Mulcahey on June 15th 1895. The Mulcahey family had emigrated to Boston from County Cork to escape the twin ravages of despotic English rule and the potato famine, but although they were now living in the land of golden opportunity and plenty, the wily Mrs M found it hard to shrug off her thrifty Gaelic ways.

After a hearty evening meal of stew, our Irish heroine was shocked to find that one of her sons (a hard-working lad with a heart of gold) had peeled excessive amounts from the potatoes and, rather than throw these valuable peelings away, she fried them up for a dessert. Voila, instant crisps. One of these original snacks is now stored in a hermetically sealed jar at the Smithsonian institute, Washington DC, and is said to be insured for a seven-figure sum.

* SNAX FACT: You may tuck into a packed of your favourite flavour with relish, but what exactly are you eating? Most crisps have never seen the 'natural' flavourings that they claim to represent, as they've spent the majority of their your lives ina factory.

Foods that are 'flavoured' must by law have been briefly brushed against the actual foodstuff they're supposed to taste like, where as such-and-such 'flavour' foods can be chock full of any bizarre blend of chemicals, industrial slurry and 'taste enhancers'.

* SNAX FACT: Many of the platforms in the game have special powers, so when you jump off one kind, for example, all the platforms in the same line will slide shut. Others automatically fire you off in a set direction, while another kind closes after a delay. This is pretty handy, as it means that if you're fast enough, you can hop off it, close a load of other platforms, and then jump back to the magical Quavers packet before it shuts.

* SNAX FACT: By correctly labelling the product, novelty snacks such as 'Hedgehog flavour crisps can be put on the market without the wholesale slaughter of Britain's most flea-ridden and all-round crap road-kill victims.

* SNAX FACT: By not having flashy animated backgrounds or scrolly bits, One Step Beyond looks deceptively, well, dull really. Not so, dear reader, in fact the only thing that I detested about it was the tiresome soundtrack with the naff 'boop' noises that seeped out of the speakers every time Colin jumped. Turning the sound down and sticking on my Lloyd Cole tape solves that problem, and working my way through numerous levels is a great way to 'constructively fill' many an hour in the office. Who says all licences are crap? Not us, that's for sure.


THE INTRO BIT - COLIN FINDS QUAVERS IN COMPUTER
One Step Beyond One Step Beyond One Step Beyond One Step Beyond One Step Beyond
Product placement has, for a long time now, been a way for film producers to generate extra revenue by showing consumer items in prominent positions throughout their movie. Who could forget the Coke can in Falling Down, the Beretta 92F Parabellum in Lethal Weapon 3 or the Sears and Roebuck hoes used in Sommersby? Well, now it's happening in computer games. Apparently.
HEY, SHADDUP-A YOU BLOCKS

One Step Beyond A plain old ho-hum block that does nothing impressive at all.

One Step Beyond The friendly smile shows that this is safe and never closes.

One Step Beyond Numbered blocks have to be shut in the specified order.

One Step Beyond These have a time delay on them before they shut.

One Step Beyond Regardless of what you do to them, these go in and out.

One Step Beyond Jump off this one and - wham! An entire line slams shut.

One Step Beyond Conversely, this'll open up a line of platforms. Gee, thanks.

One Step Beyond Massively powered, this one'll close all diagonal platforms.

One Step Beyond Whether you want to or not, prepare to be fired upwards.

One Step Beyond Trapdoor-tastic! You're on a one-way trip, straight down.

One Step Beyond Colin performs an impressive double pike as he flies off...

One Step Beyond ...a feat which won him silver at the Barcelona Olympics.



One Step Beyond logo

Still trying to figure out the connection between Madness and Quavers, Jon Sloan goes One Step Beyond...

Just why Ocean decided to name a puzzle game, that's promoting a snack, after a track by Madness is anyone's guess. But I suppose they had their reasons. Still, silly names aside, what's the game all about?

It's a puzzler which is, in concept, very similar to Ocean's earlier effort, Pushover. Given that they were both written by the same bloke I suppose you couldn't really call it a coincidence. The game stars Colin Curly, that strange dog-like creature who also stars in the Quaver ads.

You know, whenever he gets a Quaver he goes completely curly and eats just about everything in sight (I still don't understand why eating something that's supposed to counter hunger should make you so hungry). Anyway, Quavers feature strongly in the gameplay with a packet designating the start and end of each level.

PLOTS AWAY!
Unfortunately, One Step has the same old contrived plot. Colin is playing a heavy session of Pushover whilst snacking on his favourite food. Anyway, just as he completes the last level he munches his last Quaver, and this combination of taste and triumph thrusts him into the machine. Colin is now trapped in his Amiga and the only way out is to get to the next packet of Quavers. Yes, silly isn't it.

Inside the machine Pushover has warped into a totally new game consisting of tiles or platforms which Colin stands on. To escape he's got to reach the packet of Quavers at the end of the level by jumping from platform to platform. The snag is that the platforms close when he jumps off them and he's got to close every one to complete the level.

To make matters worse some of the platforms have different abilities, which can affect the other ones or even Colin himself. For instance, some cause all the others to open again or catapult Colin off at an angle. If that wasn't bad enough he's got to complete it all in a set time limit! It's up to you to use your joystick skills and keen brain to guide Colin on the best route to take through the maze of platforms.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Initially, the game appears very bland with the main sprite taking up very little screen space. It opens poorly with the first level consisting of just three platforms set in the corner of the screen. These prove to be a pushover!

Fortunately, in later levels, the whole screen is taken up by platforms leaving you very little time to decide on the best route to take. The difficulty curve is probably pitched just right as the first few levels are pretty simple and allow you time to get used to controlling Colin. However, once this has been mastered more complex puzzles are set which contain some of those special panels featured in the panel.

Fortunately, old Colin is a pretty limber dog creature and, if you hold the fire button down, can leap further or higher than normal - the pay off for this is that he's often stunned when he lands losing you precious seconds.

FRANTIC TIME
As you're up against a time limit you don't have long to decide which route to take, especially when there's loads of special tiles on screen.

Many levels have very tight time limits so you'll often find yourself repeating them over and over again till you get the timing right. One annoying aspect is that Colin has to perform one of his Quaver curls at the end of the level. It's annoying 'cos he takes up to three seconds to do it which can lose you the level. Maybe that was a concession for the license rights.

All in all, One Step Beyond is a fun game. The puzzles aren't too hard but there's 100 levels so they should keep you going for a while. The music is plain, but not too intrusive, and the graphics, though simple, are workman-like. Colin himself is OK as licensed beings go, but he is a little tricky to control, which can be frustrating at times. Still, fans of the genre will like it.


ICON-TASTIC
There are a number of tiles that feature special properties. These can make Colin leap about like a whirling or simply open or close a set of tiles adjacent to them. Here's a run down.

One Step Beyond Your common or garden standard tile. It closes once you leap off it.

One Step Beyond The horizontal opener has the opposite effect to the shutter. Simple really.

One Step Beyond This happy face designates a safe tile. You can jump on or off as many times as you want.

One Step Beyond This shutter tile closes off all those on a direct diagonal to it. Some levels are cleverly designed so that stepping on this tile can mean you close virtually all the level.

One Step Beyond These numbered tiles must be closed in the order indicated by the numbers. This doesn't have to be consecutive, i.e. you can close other tiles in-between the sequential ones so long as they keep the same sequence.

One Step Beyond This bounce up sends Colin winging his way into the heavens directly above. Be careful to make sure that there's a tile there 'cos this closes after use and could leave Colin plunging to a painful death.

One Step Beyond Delay. These act like times so that once you've jumped off they don't close for a certain longer period.

One Step Beyond The bounce down closes when you land on it dropping you down to a tile below (hopefully).

One Step Beyond These tiles don't seem to know their own minds and close and open constantly at a fixed speed.

One Step Beyond The bounce up left sends Colin flying off at an angle. His somersaults send him to another platform up there.

One Step Beyond The horizontal shutter closes all tiles in the same line as it. So don't go jumping off it onto one on the same level šos it won't be there where you land.

One Step Beyond The bounce up right does the same thing as the bounce up left, only opposite (uhh?).

FAST FOOD

Film licences have long been an established genre within the game industry but there seems to be a growing trend for food licences. Yes, that's right... food licences! In recent times these have taken the form of Chupa Chups lollies appearing in every scene of Zool, plus a free one in the box, and Penguin bars all over Robocod. More recently there was widespread promotion for Lucozade in Team 17's excellent leaper, Superfrog. In that game the mighty recuperative juice actually transforms our hero into his super powered persona.