There is a certain air of mystery about Ocean. One minute they will put out the most unbelievable pile of second-rate trash that you have ever seen in your life, next they'll put out a totally original and brilliant piece of software that makes you rub your eyes in disbelief.
Sleepwalker is in aid of Comic Relief and due to the massive publicity and the fact that every computer gamer you know will want it, Ocean can't afford to put out a stinker this time around, otherwise they'll be off down the dole office before you can say "charidee".
The year is 1993 and the mass media has found the computer game. Almost every major newspaper has a computer column, but they also run dodgy stories about computer games causing epilepsy and that they can turn your kids into mini Hannibal Lecters. Pretty sensational stuff, but scare
Turn on your TV and you'll find computers mentioned. Whether it's the king of the double entendre Dominik Diamond - or Andy Crane, the man with the cast iron hairdo, you can't escape them.
Pop, TV and film stars wouldn't be seen dead without their hand-helds when they're out on the town. Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario are slowly becoming international stars, on everybody's lips from eight to 80. Let's face it, computers are the in thing and they're taking over. It's not surprising then, that some bright spark from Comic Relief saw this incredible phenomena and decided to get in on the act. Not a bad idea seeing as computers are one of the fastest growing markets in the world with billions of pounds spent in the industry every year.
If you buy Sleepwalker, over ß4 will go to help fund projects in Africa and the United Kingdom. It's not a big percentage of the ß25 asking price, but every little amount helps.
Normally Gamer is sent all software for free, but in our case we were feeling rather guilty, so out came the Gamer wallet and we decided to buy it, just so we can say we did our bit.
In Sleepwalker you play the part of Ralph the dog and the idea behind the game is probably the simplest since Space Invaders.
Lee, your young master, has had been having problems in the sleep department. While he's asleep he decides to go walkabout. Not, this isn't too bad - normally he just walks around his room for a bit and gets back into bed.
This time someone has left his bedroom window open and Lee decides to stroll around town. As his four-
As if by chance Ralph has suddenly found himself with super-
Ralph might survive all these dangers, but Lee is not quite as indestructible. The idea is not to wake him up or you'll lose a life. At the top of the screen is Lee's sleep bar and whenever Lee is hit or damaged in any way this bar will deplete - when it's fully depleted he will awaken. Things like water will wake him up almost instantly.
The objective is to guide Lee safely through the entire level until you manage to get him out of the exit. Dotted around each level are various icons which will give Ralph or Lee a special ability. For instance, the whopee cushion will make you invulnerable for a time, the novelty ear muffs will replenish the sleep bar, and so on.
Also scattered around the level are five bonus noses. Each nose has a letter on it which when collected will spell the word "comic" and will also let you access the bonus level.
Ralph must run around and collect red balloons. Every 20 balloons generate an extra life. There are also extra icons which, when collected in the correct order, spell out one of the hazards which Ralph, in his dreams, would like to see happen to Lee. For instance, if you collect certain icons in a certain order you can activate a dream sequence, such as the one where Lee comes a cropper with a lamp post.
The graphics are almost like watching a cartoon off the telly. And there's a 1200 version, so that means the graphics and sound will be even better. What lucky people you are! The animation is top notch and the game is actually quite funny.
The introduction and in-between game sequences are brilliant little animations with the sound effects and voices of the characters provided by funny man Lenny Henry. Sleepwalker is definitely the best presented game I have ever seen from Ocean in a long time.
What you're probably saying to yourself is "wait a minute, most Ocean games have good graphics and sound, but are let down by poor playability!" Well don't worry because there's no problem on that front. Everything has obviously been thought through and works as it should.
Sleepwalker is not one of those games you can sit down and progress through level upon level on your first go. The first thing you have to do is get used to controlling Ralph the dog. There are several different things he can do and it's not just a case of going left and right and stabbing fire a couple of times.
You practically need to be in complete control of Lee all the time or you will fail miserably. This means you have to run ahead of him like a, ahem, mad dog and check for hazards and traps - and believe you me there are plenty to check for.
Sleepwalker is my favourite game of 1993 so far. It combines brilliant graphics and sound with cool playability and is very addictive. Hey, it's also an original idea and original ideas impress me a lot, plus, it's all for charity.
Even if it was fairly average I would have thought the British pubic would have bought out of the goodness of their hearts, because for starts it's better than sitting in a tub of baked beans for 24 hours.