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                             Review: Blobz AGA
                            By:  Ken Anderson 
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Apex Systems

I like a challenge, so I'll try to write this review without mentioning a
certain game beginning with the letter L, written by a Scottish company
beginning with D and published by a software house beginning with the
letter P.  Have you guessed yet?

Acting as some nameless force, you must ensure that a preset number of
"Blobz" (small bouncing potatoes, apparently) get from A to B without being
squashed, drowned, zapped or eaten by anything along the way.  Just to add
to the fun, a requisite number of diamonds often have to be gathered along
the way before the exit will open.

Appearing one by one, the blobz appear on the horizontally scrolling level
and bounce along in the direction they face.  Using the mouse, you can
empower certain attributes to each blob - they can turn around, jump, fire
rockets, and drill, amongst others.  Not all of these skills are available
on every level, and sometimes they have to be earned along the way by
guiding a blob to a bonus square. 

Unlike a game beginning with L, there's no restriction on the number of
blobs (sorry, blobz) that can be empowered.  Each action uses up a certain
amount of the player's "energy".  Once you're out of energy, you'll have to
wait for the meter to top itself up enough to carry on; meanwhile, the
blobz carry on bouncing on spikes and into the sea.  Therefore, thought has
to be given before carrying out a manoeuvre, as you may end up powerless
halfway through.

Of course, there's a time limit, and it's not generous.  After the first
few levels, you will only have seconds to spare on a few levels, so make
sure you have a well-oiled mouse.  To make things slightly easier, a
slow-down mode is provided.  When selected, everything runs at half speed,
making the task of getting the mouse to the blob you want easier.  The
downside is that the clock ticks as normal in this mode - what you gain in
the accuracy you loose in throughput, I suppose.

There are 60 levels in all, arranged in 6 mazes.  To complete a maze, you
choose a route through several screens to the exit.  It's a nice touch
which means if you get hopelessly stuck on one level you can try and find
another route through the maze.   Bundled with the game is a comprehensive
level editor which, unlike most game level editors, actually works well.

The background graphics are pleasant enough, with a pleasing parallax
effect as the level scrolls (with only a very slight glitch on the top
line).  The blobz bounce smoothly enough, but the foreground graphics
aren't really much to write home about - then again, how detailed can small
bouncy potatoes be?  The music is a mix of chip and sample tunes, and
aren't too annoying in the background.

I was hooked for the first couple of mazes; the compulsion to see the next
level was very strong and with every mistake made came the cry of "I know
how to do it!  I'll get it next time!".  By the third map, the time limits
were becoming so narrow that there were only a few seconds between
completing a level and a failure.  The choice of levels and the level
editor increase the lifetime of Blobz, but if you have a dodgy mouse or if
you're prone to throwing heavy objects at your monitor, perhaps Blobz isn't
for you.  On the other hand, If you're looking for a cheapish stocking
filler to keep the other half busy after the turkey and the charades on
Christmas day, or if you loved L-------, I can't see any reason not to
recommend Blobz.

Pros: Compulsive gameplay and very strong "one more go" element.  60 levels
and the editor make it good value for money. 

Cons: Most will have seen it all before.  Torturous time limits and tricky
level design increase frustration.

Blobz is available for 14.99UKP + 50p postage & packing from: 
5th Dimension Licenceware
1 Lower Mill Close
Goldthorpe
Rotherham, South Yorkshire S63 9BY
UK.

More info is on-line at http://www.ware5d.demon.co.uk.  A demo is
available on your local Aminet mirror, /game/demo/blobz#?.lha