Every platform has a Boulder clone, and Wop Gamma is the enjoyable conversion for the Sam. Colourful, smooth, fast and with some great background tracks.
Wop Gamma was the SAM’s answer to such hits as Rockfall, Rockford, Boulderdash and all the others. But for me, it really didn’t do the magic of Rockford’s Riot, or have the skill of Earth Shaker. But I am going to review it objectively as a damn good game in it’s own right…
Why it’s own right? Well, because the rocks (or pnuematic hammers, or whatever they are are on the level) and other falling items do not respond in the same way as EVERY other version of the game.
As you might know, in your standard Boulderdash type game, a Rock (or gem etc) will fall off of a surface (ie, a rock or platform (though not earth)) if there is a free space down/left or down/right of it and a gap to the left or right allowing it to get there. I will illustrate my point, with a pointless diagram:
O = Boulder = Earth
1. Boulder resting on another boulder…
2. Clear space to down/left and left, so boulder moves left…
3. Boulder becomes familiar with concept of gravity and drops…
Where-as in Wop Gamma:
1. Boulder resting on another boulder…
2. Boulder does bugger all…
Y’see the boulders type objects will only move once the have been started moving by something pushing them or the object on which they rest being removed. And when they do drop diagonally they act in the same way as the normal boulder, only missing out step 2.
You may think I am being picky, but this slight difference means you can have a MASSIVE pile of boulders, and as a result of moving just one, the entire lot would turn into a big pile on top of your head. Ack!
Aside from that point, the differences end there, apart from the fact that the SAM version of the game has 100 levels, with passwords every 5 levels (A very good idea, and what stops the game being cripplingly hard). It also has very pleasant graphics by Neil Holmes, with good use of colour and good design (none of the ‘What the hell is THAT for?’ that some games had). It boasts over 20 of Search: “Andy Monks” finest tunes, from intro tunes, to multiple level tunes, to a catchy pause tune. The levels are also of different themes, and the graphic style changes throughout, so this stops the problem of repetitive levels in a way only challenged by Herman on the Atari ST. And the game keeps up a very speedy rate as well as having pretty swanky presentation.
It’s all this that earns it the reputation of being a bit of a SAM classic.
And it’s just occurred to me that maybe somebody out there doesn’t know what a boulderdash game is. And so I suppose I had better finish the review with a brief explanation of how it works.
A boulderdash type of game is played in a large, normally rectangular or squarearea, in which you move one block at a time. The map is made up of 7 basic elements, some of which succumb to gravity, some of which don’t. These are the generic items common to all boulderdash type games…
- Earth - this holds up boulders and gems and everything else. You may move through it, but this results in it dissapearing. Earth is not affected by gravity.
- Blank Space - This is just that, blank space, anything can pass through it, and due it’s nature of not actually being anything, it does not feel gravity (at least not when gravity’s parents are in).
- Rock - These fall down into empty spaces and roll off (in most cases) into nearby empty spaces. They do feel gravity, but will not roll off of earth unless pushed by someone. If a moving rock lands on you, you will die, but in some games, it is possible to catch rocks with good timing. But not in Wop Gamma.
- Gem - These are what most games like you to collect, there is normally a set number of them on every level, of which you must get a set number of. Upon getting them all you go to the next level, but most games like you then to get to a door which will have opened or become visible as a result of getting the required number of gems. Feels gravity, and behaves in much the same way as rocks, including the fact that it can squash you.
- Door - Remains closed or invisible until you have got at least the correct number of gems for that level. Does not feel gravity.
- Wall - These are static, unmoving, blocks. They just act as obstructions or things to catch falling gems and rocks.
- Other - These may be enemies or bonuses.
And the level is filled with these things in a cunning and clever way, so as to make your life as miserable as possible.
|Clear, varied, but a little formulaic at times.
|The prospect of 100 levels may cause you to lag after playing for a while.
|Like most good Boulderdash games, it’s easy to get into, and difficult to get back out of.
|No spot FX, but lots of nice and varied tunes to keep you happy.
|A good if non-standard Boulderdash game, that suffers a bit due to it’s massive size. Still, at least you get value for money.
Your Sinclair review, (Recovered) courtesy of the YS Rock 'n' Roll Years YS91
Wop Gamma (SAM) Revelation £9.99 Jul 1993
lf you want to know about Boulder Dash style games, talk to me. If it's diggable, I've tunnelled through it. If it falls, I've avoided it. If it's collectable, I've picked it up. In short, I know Boulder Dash. We're like that. (Crosses fingers in complicated fashion.) So when Jonathan asked me to review Wop Gamma, I couldn't turn it down. I live for Boulder Dash. Another Boulder Dash game to me is like, like, another diamond to that bloke in Boulder Dash.
So - the game. It's a straightforward 2D romp around underground caverns, where everything is affected by gravity, the idea being to dig around the place, avoid falling things, and collect diamonds. It all sounds really simple and heartily reflex-y, until you add the puzzle element (waagh - another SAM puzzle game!) with strategically placed obstacles that will quite happily plummet on your, er, sort of shiny green dome thang as you chug around. Oh, and there are the baddies, of course, but they're a bit lacking in the old brains, so you can lead them a merry chase.
Now I don't know who knocked together the levels, but I wouldn't like to play him at chess - this man can create problems with a few obstacles and a diamond that'll have your head aching in under four seconds. But with a little trial and error, and a lot of patience, (and a few friends - Boulder Dash is the original socially interactive game, after all) you should pull through with your nervous system intact.
The graphics. Mmmm. Very nice. Awash with colour, stuffed with objects that have depth, shadows, and just a smattering of cuteness for good measure. Movement is fluid, with smooth scrolling and no eye-blasting flicker. Sonically, you can't complain either. The one thing this game has got is music. And more music. A bit more music, and a few more little tunes just to make up the numbers. Almost makes up for the lack of sound effects, really, does the music.
But back to the gameplay. A couple of people have bemoaned the loss of the YS final verdict categories, so, er, I'll make up a couple now just to placate 'em. First, a gentle probing in the, um, Grab Factor area, not that it's really needed. The puzzles will intrigue you, so much so you'll definitely play again, and again, until you manage to get that last diamond. But what about, er, Staying Power? Think of it like this - with a lot of puzzle games, the solution to a puzzle can be so contrived, and unfathomable (on account of it being completely stupid), that as a player you're turned stone cold, and your machine will be turned off. Not so with WG. Each time you play, you'll figure it all out a little further, and each time you take a fresh look at a particular problem. Of course, it helps if you've got 10 or 15 close friends at hand to offer conflicting advice and boo you if their plans go wrong.
You'll also find that you don't have to play the same levels over and over again - there are 99 of the blessed things - thanks to a nice little password system that gives you instant access to every tenth level, without having to trudge through the graveyards of the stupid. It does take a few levels to really get going, y'see, which is one of the very few faults. There are a couple of others, but they're more sort of petty quibbles, like, shouldn't there be some indication when you've got enough gems to finish the level? As I say, quibbles really, so we'll diskard them uterly.
Wop Gamma is well worth buying. It's fun and addictive, which is about as good a recommendation as you can get. Yes indeedy, if I were to be reviewing this game, which I am, I'd give it quite a good score, which I have.
Uppers: A real beaut game that gets in there fast and low and keeps on jabbing with the left.
Downers: It's. A. Puzzle. Game.
You could boycott it to show we want more than puzzle games, but it's just too good to miss. (Sorry.)
Pre-Relase version released to the public 9/2/1998 by Phil Symons