You will be tickled pink

Skweek logo

BEHIND the façade of a harmless computer game, Skweek hides a weighty political allegory. Nothing to do with Nigel Lawson, but a tale of invasion, oppression and final glorious revolution, told in play school terms. The Skweezettes led happy, carefree lives on the planet Skweez'land, which happens to have 99 continents, all of them pink tiled.

The dreaded Pitark and his Skarks - who are not, and never have been, a late Sixties rock band - invaded Skweez'land and covered it with dark blue Skweeticide. The Skweezettes, cute little dishmops that they are, were forced to fell to the dull planet Refuznoid, but not without vows to avenge the deed most foul. Pitark eventually died and the Skweezettes lost no time tin planting an agent provocateur back on Skweez'land. Skweek, for it is he, must colour all the continents pink and avoid the deadly Skarks.

Once all the continents are cleaned, the Skweezettes will return and amid great celebration.

Is it a coincidence then, that if you take Pitark, remove P, R, and K, then add an S, L and N, you get an anagram of Stalin? And is it pure happenstance that the second letter of Skweez'land is the same as the second letter of Ukraine? I think we should be told...

Skweek has no arms to bear arms, so he resorts to shooting small orange blobs and hopes for the best. Bonuses appear regularly on random squares and Skweek can pick them up for better blob shooting, better speed, a teddy bear, or entrance to the next level.

The teddy bear may seem silly, but to Skweezettes four different teddy bears are a powerful good luck charm.

Skweez'land is pretty strange as planets go - pink tiles and animated dishmops notwithstanding (not even sitting, either ) - in that the continents hang over the Infinite Void of Space. Unlike most other Infinite Voids, which are dull and black, this particular Infinite Void is pastel blue with moving pink stripes. Just as harmful, though.

The Skarks are a pretty dim bunch, usually milling around randomly, but some make a beeline for you. Very kind of them too. Now you have something to tether your bees with. The urge to say "and that is about it on the features front" at this juncture is almost impossibly strong, so consider it said.

Skweek is not one of those games that requires a PhD to remember what to do, the emphasis being more on enjoyment than memory. Still, it is quite useful to remember the various features of each level, for as far as I know the whole 99 levels have to be done in one sitting.

The two Rod, Jane and Freddy type tunes alternate each level. They go well with the game, but from a distance they begin to grate.

The game is undeniably cute, with the sort of apologetic, cartoony monsters common among its genre. Although the loading and title screens may lack polish, the rest of the game is well presented. A few neat tricks, such as rainbow borders and multi-level sprites, are used - fairly simple to do but they add that little bit of zing. Plus Loriciels has joined a small group of companies high in my esteem - it bothers with the bottom bit of a PAL screen. Small point, but appreciated.

Parents, do not buy this game for the kids. Be honest, buy it for yourselves. That way, you will avoid massive family arguments over who gets the next game.

Skweek logo


This French furball is doing its best to become cute phenomenon of they year, following other wacky favourites like Gribbly, Thing, Pogo and Bubble & Bobble. His (for it is a he and not a Skweezette) whole motivation in life is to turn blue tiles pink by running over them. From this simplest of concepts are constructed 99 fun levels.

The tiles are laid out across vertically-scrolling levels packed with other features, the most bothersome among which are the creatures that appear from portal tiles and are fatal when run into.

Tiles that are covered in ice. Let Skweek travel only one way, explode or dissolve can also cause problems for the unwary. Fortunately, you can shoot the creatures and pick up useful bonuses along the way which include increased firepower, more speed, and extra lives and shields.

On the whole, the game is thoroughly enjoyable because it is so easy to play and yet has lots of variety in the levels. As you would expect from a cutesy game the graphics are very colourful, featuring sprites that are detailed and nicely animated. Sound consists of a repetitive, wibbly tune played throughout and cheery in-game effects. The fun might not last for long, but it is great while it does.

Skweek logo

US Gold
Price: £19.99

Reading the scenario for Skweek is likely to have you throwing up across the front of your monitor; Skweek is a lovable bundle of orange. His mission is to clean up his planet, painting it pink instead of blue". If that does not get you, one look at the garish dazzle of the colours on screen will. This is one of those games designed to appeal to 'all the family', in this case by smearing it with bucketloads of sickly cuteness. Underneath the marzipan, Skweek is as addictive as a guava jelly and almond butter sarnie.

If I was to describe this game in the usually way, you would quickly get the impression that Skweek was coma-inducing PacMan-style play, pick up icons for special powers, avoid the blob-like monsters and ghosts, fifty levels, etc. etc. Right, well on that score Skweek is certainly noting original. If you are the sort of gamer who won't play Falcon because Spectrum Holobyte put in the wrong brand of radio-cassette player, you will hate this. If, however, you can get past the sweet wrapper, you will find Skweek no softcentre. This is an almond crunch of a game.

The sprites are huge and boldly defined and the general impression throughout is of arcade quality graphics. There are a huge variety of obstacles to get around; disintegrating tiles, slopes, slippery surfaces, teleporters. Each level has a dozen twists and turns in it, all scrolling as smoothly as you could wish. Like Zoom (another CU fave) the idea is to rush around and colour in all the tiles, but in Skweek you are obliged to do is to touch each one.

You are, of course, pursued unrelentingly by a horde of unpleasant characters. These range from fast, but erratically moving ghosts, to unshootable, but freezable fire sprites. The variety of icons you can pick up during the game is one of the best things about it and it is well worth keeping an eye on the indicator of the side screen which shows you when they appear. At the start Skweek is only able to lob one pitiful ball. This changes up to a much more enjoyable four, then eight, with laser balls that blast their way through everything. The best of all these, though, is freeze power. Your enemies are immobilised and then, for a bonus, you can charge into them shattering them into a thousand pieces.

All this would have meant nothing if the gameplay was not both balanced and challenging, which it is, even with a good deal of randomness involved with the appearances of icons. Certainly anyone can play Skweek, but it is not easy at all to get to the later screens. This has all the elements of an infuriating but long lasting game, but then again, the music reminds me of Camberwick Green, so maybe I am just regressing back into childhood.