Splat! - A ZX Spectrum game reviewed by Florinthedwarf.

Argh! A spider! Nah, it's our hero Zippy! (No, not that one.)
SPLAT! Now that I've got your attention, let's talk about this game. Maze games can be a little repetitive, left, right, right, right, left, left etc. pick something up, get stuck, turnaround, right, left - you get the picture. But what if I told you that this was a maze game with a difference? 'You lie!' you cry; but alas this time, I'm not. What if there was a maze game where the walls moved around as well as you. 'That would be crazy!' you would say. Well, welcome to Crazyland*.

Another excellent alternative loading screen by the talented Andy Green
Zippy is a very sprightly fellow (or weird spider thing to be more accurate) and his job is to collect grass, plumbs and maybe some extra lives if he's really lucky, whilst all the while making his way through the vast maze and having to deal with the surrounding walls that move in random directions. In your way will be water puddles, walls and spikes who are hell-bent on trying to stop you in your spider-like tracks. Zippy certainly does live up to his name as he flies around the screen as you erm 'zip' around the screen, which has both benefits and disadvantages. I mean, if you're half a second from being squashed by the outside wall, his pace will help save your bacon but get a bit trigger happy (or whatever the equivalent is for running) and you'll find yourself and the bottom of a pool of water. That's bad by the way, as Zippy is not one of the spiders that can skate across the water. And not as scary.

Ooh! Tasty, tasty grass. 

One thing I'll say about Splat! is that it's very tricky. The first level starts off slightly tricky and then the further you go, the more tricky it gets. I guess that's how most games work but hell, Splat! may well have you pulling your hair out before you get out of the first level. The maze moves relatively slowly at first as you get to grips with the controls, working out what you can touch (and more importantly what you can't. I admit I spent a lot of time avoiding the black walls as I thought they killed you. That's many hours of my life I'm not going to get back.) and getting used to controlling Zippy, but even then you'll find yourself getting trapped in a corner with no way out and then..splat! Time to start again. Adding to the difficulty is the increasing speed and random movements the maze takes - it can move in any direction at any time. Yes, mainly you'll find it move three or four spaces to the right and then up slightly as you make your way around but, should you feel like taking a chance to nip in and grab something from a tight space anticipating that the game will be forgiving and move conveniently the right way for you, you will find that in fact the game hates you and will go in the complete opposite direction and then...splat! (Hence the name of the game, I guess!)

Watch out, Zippy! That water's coming to get you. Well, I guess it isn't. I guess what I'm trying to say is 'Don't fall into it'. Ooh, plums!
The Splat! map is a relatively large one and with each level you complete, you 'unlock' another part of it and get to explore this maze world around you. Collecting items will give you points and multiple times you a faced with question 'Can I get into that space to collect that and run back again before I get squashed?'. Well, if you're nimble enough then yes, but if you're a bit wary, there's a chance that if you hang around a bit longer, then the maze will come back around again for you to have another bite of the cherry, or indeed plum. How kind of it!

There's nothing worse than when you're just going about your business, trying to eat some grass and then BAM! Spikes come out of nowhere.
As mentioned previously, you'll find hazards scattered around the map as you make your way trying to not get squashed and the further you go along, the more of them appear. At first you'll find that just the black walls are your enemy as you speed your way around the maze but as you get further along the game, you'll find other hazards along your path such as water and spikes to make your journey just a little tougher. Not only that but you'll find the black walls become more prominent and more particularly, the space between them becoming more tight which ups the difficulty tenfold. Or hundredfold, depending on how good you are. Or not. How do you get past each level? Well, in this case it isn't a matter of collecting enough items or points, it's about lasting long enough in each part of the maze so that you are afforded the luxury of moving on to the next section of the game. I guess you could say that this is favourable given that there's less risk of getting stuck when trying to collect an item, though it's a challenge nonetheless with its randomly moving maze; you have to be on your toes to not fall foul of its relentless, random shuffling.

Once you get your rhythm going, Splat! can also of course be a lot of fun and seen more as challenge rather than how to scream obscenities at your TV screen. Quite an original idea and even though it's a pretty basic looking game, it has all the elements to keep you playing. Sometimes you don't need flashy graphics and sound to make a game, as is the case with a lot of classic games; what you need is a good idea and to pul it off well. Splat! is just that - a maze game with a twist and an original character (has there been another character that looks like our hero Zippy? (no, not that one)).

Ooh, it's getting a bit tight in here, but more importantly - what's that red thing over there? 

In summary, Splat! will keep you entertained for very long while when you get the hang controls and work out how the maze works and when you get far along enough, the challenge is more than enough to keep you going and the levels of satisfaction are high should you make it out of the level you find yourself in. I remember playing the game as a young child and not being very good at it (some things never change) and another memory is the amazing shiny inlay cover which when I saw again for the first time in about 30 years, really made me feel nostalgic and hypnotised me with its swirly circlely squares..............oh, where was I? Right yes, give Splat! a play now if you're up for a challenge and make friends with Zippy (no, not that one) and give your reflexes the test of their lives.

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Right, I'm off to go eat some grass and get lost in a maze. May go and play some games soon, too.

*Crazyland may or may not exist and its name was created for the entertainment purposes of the article. If anyone does indeed know if this place does exist, please let me know as I would like to visit.

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