When your magazine's on deadline, and a load of the games you've been promised by certain software companies (who shall remain nameless, 'cos we're professional like that) haven't even been sent to the office, then it's a real boon to be given a platform game to review at the last minute. The reason's simple - you can fill the opening paragraphs of the review by explaining how crap the plot is. So, for what it's worth, here's some space-filling storyline.
Captain Jeremy Flynn is sailing around the Caribbean doing the sort of deeds that Captains tended to do in the Caribbean of 1641. Suddenly, in a scene reminiscent of Burt Lancaster's famous film, The Crimson Pirate, he's attacked by Redbeard, and all his crew are kidnapped.
This, as anybody left awake will no doubt tell you, is not a happy state of affairs for the poor Captain to be left in. Luckily for Jeremy, though (and us gamesplayers), he's managed to retain his freedom, and embarks on a quest to rescue his crew.
So, that's the plot-line dealt with then. What are you supposed to do with Jeremy once the game hands over control of him? As I previously mentioned, you've got to rescue your crew members while at the same time defending yourself from any living things, objects or miscellanies that happen to cross your path.
If you take a look at the info box that sits atop this review, you'll see that the programmers are Starbyte, the very same people who programmed Fly Harder (awarded 90 per cent by Commander Cameron in AP36, fact fans). Now, considering the pedigree that Fly Harder radiantly displays. I pricked up my ears and started to lick my lips in anticipation.
Visually, Traps 'n' Treasures a remarkable resemblance to Arabian Nights and Elf World. Anybody waiting for any other comparisons have metaphorically had it, I'm afraid.
Now it's onto some hard factual information about the game itself. There are only four levels: The Thread Needle Lagoon, Skull Grotto, The Temple and last but not least, The Fortress. Before you all go in a huff and shout "Surely that's a foul ref", consider the following: with the exception of the first level, each level is so large and so convoluted with tricks, traps, puzzles and skullduggerous denizens that it will literally take you longer than a long, long time to complete.
So just what is the parry carte septete quad (Completely wrong, informationally, inconsequential sequence of fencing terms. - AP Fencing Coach) that will defend and render safe Traps 'n' Treasures from the now legendary universal AP cry of "Oh no, not another platformer, no please."
Well, there's just so much to do - puzzles and sub-plots abound. Rather than having a completely linear sequence of events to overcome, T 'n' T contains small asides to be discovered.
See him huffing and puffing
For example, on the second level, there's a door that requires opening by a green key. The only green key within any kind of reachable distance is hidden behind a breachable wall. To breach the wall, you need to blow it up. In order to blow it up you need a bomb. To obtain a bomb, you need to buy one from a shop. To buy one from a shop, you need money. To earn money, you need to collect it from treasure chests and platforms and underneath collapsible blocks and things like that, while carefully avoiding or bashing nasties.
For further trickery and head-scratchy Jack-in-the-boxing, you can move boxes toward platforms that are normally too high to reach without some forms of external aid. When I first saw this I though: "Oh oh! Dumb lump of plasticine with a crap antenna on top alert." Yes, it almost threw me back into the dejavu-like nightmarish world of Puggsy, the most irritating platform game in the world ever.
But no, in Traps 'n' Treasures the boxes don't suffer from inertia or mass - maybe not as realistic, but much more conducive to sanity and game playability. You can stack them on top of each other without having to worry about their inertia creating a collision and spilling the hole edifice all over the place.
So that's just about it with Traps 'n' Treasures. The difficulty level is probably set a little on the hard side - some of the monsters are too difficult to kill quickly enough, which means that unless you pay an inordinate amount of attention to avoiding or killing them, you're going to die. And the catch with that is that it detracts from the puzzle-solving element which iset at just about the perfect level of trickiness, i.e. it doesn't bore you t tears through being either too hard or tooeasy.
Oh, and I haven't mentioned the animation of Jeremy himself yet. When he swims under water, you can see him huffing and puffing with the effort; you almost feel for him. You get emotionally involved and want to see him succeed in his quest, and that's a good thing. It's also good to see that he isn't nauseatingly cute or in-your-face. He does exactly as you tell him. When you leave him alone for too long, he leans over and taps on the screen with a perfect rendition of the old Channel 4 tap-on-th-screen advertising campaign.
It made me laugh so much that I had to call people over in the office to take a look. Unfortunately it's not a new slant on the things-that-platform-characters-do-when-you-leave-them-alone mechanism - - Hugo the Troll did the same thing. But it still managed to amuse me.
I'm reaching the end of the review now, so the last mention concerning the mechanics of the game goes to the sound. It's competent, game-enhancing and well-executed, if nothing else.
Not being the best judge of platformers (He's joking, of course. - Ed), I recruited an ace platform fiend for his opinion just to make sure that I wasn't making a fool of myself. "Stuart," I said, "is this any good?" "Don't know Steve, you'll have to make your own mind." Oh no. Well, here goes: Traps 'n' Treasures offers nothing new in the field. What it does do, though, is entertain and amuse.