BEHIND the fašade 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.