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There is no simple way of describing Troddlers by Storm. IT looks like Lemmings initially, loads of little sprites wandering about various death-filled screens. Luckily (or not as the case may be) this similarity is only superficial. Hokus and Pokus are assistants to the wizard Divinius, master of magic and logic and supreme sorcerer.

One day, Divinius gets them to clean his storeroom. They are forbidden, though, to touch his potions. But being two lazy little apprentices they decide to use instant troddlers (little creatures who resemble lemmings) to do their work for them.

Hokus and Pokus add too much instant-troddler mix which lets loose all the troddlers. To make matters worse, all the troddlers find a teleport box which transports them away. Oh dear, they will have to retrieve all the troddlers for Divinius or suffer his wrath. One more thing, teleported troddlers have a nasty habit of becoming zombified.

Oh no! More Troddlers?
The object is to get a set number of troddlers home safety, though in some cases to reach the required quota you may also have to collect the various gems dotted around some level screens. Hokus (for agument's sake) in one-player mode has the job of collecting all the troddlers form the 100 single-player levels, while Hokus and Pokus can team-up for 50 two-player levels.

There is a third option which is called war. In thisthe teleport box transforms Pokus so that he joins the zombies' side, and then the two players have to compete to get their troddlers home.

Unlike Lemmings there is no set of icons to direct the sprites, and the only thing your character can do to affect the troddlers' path is to create blocks of stone in the air around himself using a combination of joystick movements. These blocks can then be used to direct the troddlers.

This system works because troddlers follow the edge of any platforms, so a troddler will walk along the top over the edge and then along the bottom without falling off. This means you can change the platform that a troddler is walking on by putting blocks in-between the original platform and the new one you want the troddler on.

Positioning the blocks where you want can present problems because even though Hokus can jump and move around the platforms, he will often be required to get to areas of the screen that are way out of reach. This requires a bit of block building, which can then be climbed upon.

Unfortunately, there are more problems to make you curse and scream some more. The first of these is the limited number of blocks you have available to you. This number can be supplemented by absorbing any blocks already present on screen back into your reserves, so you may have to absorb the block you are standing on while jumping up to the next level at the same time. This means you have enough blocks left in your reserves for the next task. The second are the zombified troddlers, these are lethal and inhabit some of the later levels. Most annoying on some levels is the time limit which can be crippling, to say the least.

I like troddling
Along the right-hand side of the screen is your status panel. This shows the health of Hokus (you get hurt by the zombies and by cannons etc.) and Pokus, how many troddlers you've got home and the number of gems you have to collect. It is also houses your block reserve, which is a tall column of blocks that goes down as you use them on screen.

Troddlers is nice-looking. The graphics don't have as much character as Lemmings, but they perform their function well. The music is nice and suitably jolly, but the best thing about this game is that it is fun to play and addictive. Only occasionally will you really swear at a level that can't be completed.

All in all, a fun game that isn't as good as Lemmings but has a damn good try, and is all the better for it.

Lemmings 1.5

Troddlers logo

Das mußte ja some kommen: Seit Psygnosis knuddelige "Lemmings" mit affenartiger Geschwindigkeit an die Spitze sämtlicher Verkaufs-Charts wüglten, sieht man immer häufiger Spiele mit indirekter Steuerung...

Man denke nur an "Brat" oder "Builderland", dem Loriciel mit "The Cartoons" gerade einen inoffiziellen Nachfolger spendiert hat. Nun hat auch Storm des Themas angenommen und ganze Horden von Troddlers auf 100 Level verteilt, die von den ein bzw. zwei Spielern (die wahlweise mit- oder gegeneinander arbeiten) sicher zum Ausgang geleitet werden müssen.

Wie ihre Vorbilder haben die Brüder das geistige Potential einer Walnuß und stolpern immer schnurgerade dahin - allerdings können sie das auch an der Decke und den Wänden. Um die Sippe in die richtigen Bahnen zu lenken, verfügt der Spieler über den Steuer-Mann Hokus, der im Zwei-Spieler-Modus von Pokus unterstützt bzw. bekämpft wird. Dazu kann Hokus (begrenzt vorrätige) Steinklötze in die Landschaft zaubern und auf ebenso magische Weise wieder verschwinden lassen.

Neben der eigentlichen Rettungsaktion steht in einigen Abschnitten auch das Einsammeln von Diamanten oder das Plätten böser Gegner auf dem Programm. Außerdem wimmelt es überall nur so von gefährlichen Feuerbällen, Minen und Eisklötzen, aber auch leckeren Südfrüchten. Für jeden geschafften Level gibt es ein Paßwort, und dank unendlicher Continues dürfte das Schaffen eigentlich auch keine Große Schaffe sein.

Grafik und Sound sind standesgemäß "nett", die Steuerung per Stick oder Keyboard bietet ebenfalls keinen Anlaß zur Kritik. Und vom Gameplay her sind die Troddlers natürlich ideal dazu geeignet, um sich das warten auf "Lemmings II" zu versüßen...

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They're cute and irredeemably stupid, and you have to save them. But they do look a bit familiar, don't they?

Now, I don't think it's really fair to compare items to earlier masterpieces on the basis of a few superficial similarities. Just think of all those moody young American actors saddled with the label "the next James Dean": All those gorgeous blonde film starlets doomed to a career of constant Marilyn Monroe comparisons; all those small, mentally unbalanced children constantly compared despite protestation, to Timmy Mallet. No, it's just not fair.

With that in mind, it is my plan to write this review without ever once mentioning by name... er... that game with the small purple suicidal mammals in it. This isn't going to be easy, since Troddlers owes more than a passing debt to that puzzley platform game from Psygnosis. In fact, Troddlers can be be described as a cross between the game I'm not going to mention and the bygone classic Solomon's Key.

In Solomon's Key, the idea was to manoeuvre your way across a variety of single levels. You appeared on screen via the 'way in', and had to make your way to (believe it or not) the 'way out', picking up a key en-route. Numerous hazards made this task difficult, as did the fact that most of the platforms were so far apart there was no way you could jump the gap.

Fortunately, Solomon was blessed with the useful skill of being able to produce blocks out of mid-air: these could be used as stepping-stones for moving around the screen, barriers to restrict the movement of enemies, and much more.

So far, so similar. Where Troddlers deviates from the theme is that in this game it's not your character (Hokus: a giant Troddler, by the looks of it) that has to get to the exit. That mission is reserved for all the little Troddler creatures that pour out into the screen, looking for all the world like they've made the trip over from Oh no! Yet more mouse-like creatures native to Norway. The Troddlers stumble aimlessly around ia big pack, walking into walls and falling into liquidisers. They're quite similar to toddlers, really, only without the dribble.

Your task is place and destroy blocks to try and ensure the survival of the required number of Troddlers (normally all of them). Sometimes a crowd of enemy Troddlers (zombies that kill on contact) will also make an appearance. Diamonds (a mainstay of Solomon's Key) also crop up, and you usually need to collect a specific number of them within the time limit, on top of any Troddler-preserving responsibilities.

Let's make it clear that this is a brilliant game

One of the reasons that Troddlers is such a brilliant game - and before we go on, let's make it clear that this is a brilliant game - is that every feature that could be in it is in it. There's a two-player team mode, a two-player combat mode, a massive variety to the levels (every puzzle is pretty much a game in itself), hazards of every type and kind, a time limit, an energy level, power ups a-plenty... Even the 'block tube' at the side of the screen adds a whole new dimension, as you struggle to place the right sort of block in the right place. Golly!

Despite noticeable similarities to that game beginning with 'L' that came 11th in the AMIGA POWER Top 100, this is a totally different ball game. Whilst elmgmins (anag) was a mouse-driven game that involved zipping back-and-forth across the screen, setting various different chains into operation, Troddlers is a joystick venture where all activity is focused around a single area. Sure, you've got to keep your eye on what's happening in all parts of the screen, but Hokus can only place and destroy blocks on the squares next to her, so wherever she is, that's where things are going to be happening.

This does make Troddlers very tricky, since you've not only got to spot a potential danger and work out a solution, you've also got to get your block-wielding hero over there. This often means placing a few blocks to use as platforms.

You've only got a limited number, though, so you'll probably need to pick back up the blocks you've used as platforms, to make sure you've got enough to prevent the potential catastrophe you're rushing towards. And you've got to hurry, remember.

To put things into perspective, that Psygnosis game only started to get tricky around level 20-something. Troddlers will have you desperately grappling with the mental gear-stick by level eight or nine.

On paper, the idea behind this game is an excellent one, the sort of "pick 'n' mix gameplay, with every feature possible"-type game that your average 11 year old A500 owner in Redditch might design in the back of an exercise book, during a particularly dull physics lesson.

The problem with all these games that are really excellent in theory is that they usually either turn out to be impossible in practice, or else turn into a big jumbled mess during the programming stage. But not here. The ATOD lads done good. Troddle of to your local software store right now, and find out exactly how good they done.

  1. Cannons that fire big metal balls are just one of a large range of hazards.
  2. An exit. Get the required number through here safely and you're done it (sounds familiar?)
  3. A lemon.
  4. These are the entrances that the Troddlers troddle in by.
  5. Get to one side of a rock and push. It squashes anything it lands on.
  6. Move this cross-hair around to pick up and place blocks.
  7. Hokus. This is you.
  8. Troddlers fall through 'flippers' in the direction of the arrow. If there's something in the way, they die horribly.
  9. Mines like this are best avoided.
  10. These are the chaps.
  11. Your energy. Can be replenished by eating fruit.
  12. The blocks in your block tube, waiting to be placed.

Troddlers is a game of three modes, each of which has its own selection of puzzles. Unless you're ambidextrous enough to control a joystick in each hand, though, you'll need to enlist a chum for the Team and War jobbies...

TroddlersSOLO MODE
(100 levels)
Pokus is staying in to wash his hair, so it's down to you (as Hokus) to tackle a hundred increasingly difficult puzzles on your lonesome. These vary from simple block-placing exercises to levels where your good, wholesome Troddlers must be steered clear of deadly hazards and evil killer Troddlers from hell. There's diamonds to be found and collected too. Some levels are totally diamond-based (no Troddlers).

TroddlersTEAM MODE
(50 levels)
Two heads are better than one (bet we won't be saying taht after a nuclear accident), and teamwork is the better part of valour. Too many cooks save the eggs. Three's company, two's a hi-energy disco band. Er... Look, find a mate and tackle these levels as a team. Hokus and Pokus. It's no easier, though, since there's extra helpings of hazards, and more Troddlers than you'll know what to do with.

TroddlersWAR MODE
(25 levels)
And when you get sick of all that hippy working-together nonsense (let's leave non-competitive sport so the England football squad, eh?), give your pal a good pasting. One player takes control of Hokus and the good Troddlers, the other looks after the smelly, grey zombie Troddlers from hell. Split your time between getting your own guys out of scrapes, and putting your opponent's guys into scrapes.

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They may look like Lemmings, but the game certainly isn't. Jessica Gedge is puzzled.

Hokus and Pokus are a couple of mischievous fellows. Working for a very lazy, but highly intolerant wizard. They do nothing but skive and get up to all kinds of mischief. One day, the wizard decides he has had enough and sends them down to the cellar to tidy up - a job that should take them a couple of days. While down there, they come across a box marked 'dangerous'. It transpires that the box contains Troddlers, small creatures dedicated to helping people do their job.

Mind-numbingly stupid, with no sense of self-worth or preservation, they are completely harmless unless they should happen to be teleported. If that happens, there is a strong chance that they could become Zombies - nasty Troddlers hell bent on destroying nice Troddlers and humans alike.

I wonder if you can work out what happens now? Yes, they all get out of the box and teleport, and so it is up to you to get as many of them back as possible. Who said computer game storylines had predictable endings?

Hang on, you might be saying at this point. That description of the twee little creatures makes them sound just like Lemmings! You are not wrong. These little beings are small, cute and trundle around, forever just walking forward regardless of anything that might be in their way. Thankfully, though, they cannot fall from heights. Troddlers have little suckers on their feet. Which means that they have no problem at all walking up walls or along ceilings.

There are three different ways to play Troddlers. Firstly, there is the solo mode, where you go one-on-twelve and face the game on your own. Then, there is team mode where you and a friend guide the little fellows home. Finally, and definitely the most fun, is war mode, where you and a pal fight it out as one of you guides the Zombies and one the Troddlers.