The Psygnosis warehouse clearance continues. It’s hard to move round a computer shop without tripping over teetering piles of Psygnosis titles, at the knock-down, never-to-be-repeated price of one of your Earth tenners. Walker (AP24 85%) for a tenner? Yes please. Armour Geddon 2 (AP37, 57%) for ten pounds? Umm, maybe not, eh?
Amid this landslide of back catalogue comes a new game, X-It, which used to be called (ugh) Zonked! and is so obscure a tile, that when I got stuck and phoned up the Psygnosis help line (051 709 5755 – Phone them, not us, for pity’s sake. _ Ed), the guy denied the existence of the game and then went on to say that even if it has been released, it certainly wasn’t one of theirs. Well it does, and it is.
And we’ve seen it before. Check back to AMIGA POWER 37,a nd on the second disk you’ll see a PD game called Soko Ban. In it, you’re presented with some coloured blocks and floor tiles. Against the clock, you push the blocks around until each block is on top of the corresponding tile, making sure you don’t push the blocks into corners where you can’t move them – my point to all this being, see that Soko Ban? That’s X-It, that is.
A single stack of two
Weeeell, it is and it isn’t, for although the basic idea’s exactly the same, X-It’s far cleverer and feature-packeder than Soko Ban. This time you don’t have to push blocks onto coloured tiles, you have to push them into holes so you can get to the exit.
As well as singles some blocks are stacked on top of each other, the catch being (this is fter all a puzzle game) that you can only push two at a time. These could be two single blcoks, or a single stack of two but certainly not the stacks of three, which can only be moved by attaching wheels to them. And then once you’ve got them going, icy patches send them slithering off, or ice blocks melt before you need them or you have to teleport somewhere first. And so on.
Starting from the first few Soko Ban-esque learner levels, X-It cranks up the number of objects and the complexity of each across a hundred and odd levels. To avoid you getting stuck fast, you can enter the game at every fifteenth level, and compared with some of the horrendous level codes of recent times the ones in X-It are merciful keyboard-typeable six digit codes.
Playing the game directs you swearing mostly where it belongs (the puzzles) and not at stupid problems or disk accessing, and much fun was had alternately cursing when I was stuck and punching the air in righteous jubilation when I cracked a level.
The problems? Well, lives – do you need or want lives in puzzle games? Isn’t being stuck on a level punishment enough, without all the added stress (and disk accessing) of returning to the menu to type in a code every five attempts? And why’re all the characters tiny and the playing area only about 15% of the screen? Shurely shome mishtake?
The time allowances are a bit strict too, leaving no margin for you to make a couple of mistakes and just scrape in. And the music’s crap, and plays in the menus even after you’ve turned it off. But hey, small problems ina sensibly-priced, rather endearing puzzlers.