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.
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.