Fred - Florinthedwarf reviews a ZX Spectrum game released way back in 1984!

Who knew that Tutankhamun was into psychedelia?

In a world before Indiana Jones, well right in the middle of his heyday I guess, but you know what I mean, Fred was here to show us the fun and adventure that comes the way of a brave explorer. By fun and adventure, I mean get chased by ghosts, rats, bats and whatever other creatures you may find lurking in the mystic pyramids of Egypt. So, probably not much fun at all when you think about it. But, if you want that ancient treasure to show off in your display cabinet, you had to do the work for it.

 
Hey, Indy! Erm, I mean Fred. Give Indy his clothes back, will you? He's freezing over here!
Fred puts you in control of an intrepid pyramid dweller searching for riches to add to his antiques collection whilst at the same time avoiding multiple nasties set out to get you, and then ultimately escape from the pyramid before you run out of energy or get killed. There can't be that many things in a pyramid that can kill you you may ask, normally I'd agree with you but Fred must just have a canny ability to pick the wrong ones. Poor Fred. Surely you'd only expect to find the odd rat or spider (who are more scared of you than you are of it)? Ah, no. Not in these here pyramids! These ones are filled with ghosts, scorpions, bats and a vast array of things you'd rather not be too close to. Eek!

Each level of Fred is a randomly generated pyramid which you have to escape from by climbing various ropes which you ultimately use to get to the top of the pyramid and out through the roof. As it is randomly generated, you may well get lucky and only require a few ropes to make your escape though, it's more likely you will find yourself climbing tens of ropes trying to find your way out only to hit a brick wall. Should you find your escape hampered by a pesky wall, you will often find yourself having to go back to bottom and working your way back up again. This can be frustrating as sometimes you will have scaled three quarters of the pyramid only to find that huge rope you thought was going to take you to the top is something of a red herring, so you'll find yourself having to do the walk (climb?) of shame all the way back down again. But after you've got over that (and yourself - come on, it's only a game!) you'll soon get back into the swing of things as there lots of things to discover.

Argh! A cockroach! Erm...rat? Uhh,...hedgehog?

Now, what you'll find crawling, slithering, flying or indeed floating around (oooooo-oooh...that's a ghost noise, by the way) will differ depending on which level you are on. On the first level you will find ghosts and well, what my dad used to tell me they were, cockroaches. I've never seen a magenta cockroach before (thanks Spectrum colour pallete) but they've always looked a bit like hedgehogs to me. I'm sure they're not. I mean, how many hedgehogs do you get in Egypt? Not many I'd suspect, so we'll just say they're rats for the sake of an argument. Though that said, I've never seen a magenta rat before either....hmm. Further along each level, you'll come across scorpions (who run up and down and across the ropes you need to climb - little blighters!), bats, mummies (who disappear with a 'pop' when shot) and if I remember correctly even vampires and some point. The things you find in pyramids, eh?

Fred finally gets the Oscar he deserves.

Anyone thinking that maybe our hero Fred may well be cashing in on the Indiana Jones craze well, how wrong could you be? Old Indy was partial to a whip as his weapon of choice, whilst our friend Fred chooses to go with the pointy and shooty option. Or a gun, you may want to call it. It's not the best gun by any means though you can shoot ghosts with it which will sometimes send them back to where they came from, or indeed sometimes it won't do anything at all in which case it's time to turn around and run as fast as you can. Though running is not really an option as old Fred only has one speed - plod. As nimble as he may be on the ropes, he's not the lightest on his feet when it comes to making an escape from a looming ghoulie so you have to be quick (even if he isn't) in making a decision whether to shoot or 'run'.

What are the chances of four people called Fred being buried next to each other? Quite high, apparently.

All this talk of ghoulies has swayed away from all the treasures and other items that you can collect. Various trophies and jewels await you along with the odd bullet or two strewn around the place for you to replenish your ammo stock and if you're lucky, you may find some extra energy to collect too.  You may also find along your way a map of the pyramid so you can make your escape a little quicker. Though I'm not the best map reader around so it's much use to me. No matter which way I look at it I can never decipher what's going on on there, though if maps are your thing - you're onto a winner!

A-ha! Sweet freedom!
Bugger.
I have a real fondness for Fred. I remember it very well from playing it at a very young age​ and it brings back a lot of memories from that time. From it's slightly morbid high score chart (were there many where your name was immortalised on a headstone?) to the mystery you found in each level; literally not quite knowing what was around the corner and the excitement of finding out which new monster or creepy crawly was awaiting you in the next level. Simple in sound though nice, bright bold sprites and so much fun to play. Seeing that final rope at the end of each level was such a thrill (unless of course it had acid dripping from it - argh!) and gave you such satisfaction taking those few final pulls to freedom - ah!

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See ya later! I'm off to Egypt. 

Better beware of those psychedelic hedgehogs. 

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