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                              Review: Bograts
                            By:  Ken Anderson 
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Vulcan Software (A1200/4000 only)

"It isn't easy being a parent, as any Bograt will tell you", begins the
blurb for Bograts, Vulcan Software's latest MiniSeries game.  Personally, I
wouldn't have thought it would have been easy being ANYTHING when you're a
Bograt.  Just the knowledge that I was part of the species Bograt would be
enough to keep me in bed in the morning.

Anyway, easy or not, you're a Bograt, and you've been left in charge of
your two offspring (affectionately known as "Red" and "Blue") for an
evening.  Right on cue, they go off and decide it's time to go hunting for
the magical eggs at the big bad Mystical Castle of Bog.

Right, that's the plot out of the way.  Yes, it's another save'em'up - get
dumb creatures from A to B without being killed along the way; for
reference, see the Blobz review in this same issue.  Keep reading, however,
because the two games still manage to be quite different.

In the first place, rather than have a semi-omnipiant player controlling
the surroundings, Bograts puts you in the same playing area as the baby
Bogs.  As the parent, you have to roam around the level, clearing a path to
the exit for your kids to travel along.  There's the usual array of
hazards: spikes, fires, enemy somethings and so on.  Levers are invariably
dotted around the levels, opening and closing ladders and doors, and
operating elevators and conveyor belts.

The baby Bogs both have permanent special abilities: one can frighten away
nasties, the other can collect keys and open doors.  The parent can jump
with the best of them, aided with springs and the occasional High Jump
pill.  At certain locations on each level, you can enter Map Mode, which
allows you to sweep around the level and see what's what - absolutely
essential for finding out what each lever does and planning the next move.

My first instinct with this game was what I'm afraid a lot of players might
do: play the first couple of levels, get hopelessly stuck on the third and
file the game away for a boring Sunday afternoon.  It's not action-packed,
it doesn't have a particularly novel concept, and there's no immediate
hook.  But ...  and it's one of those big buts ...  Bograts rewards success
with ever more intricate level designs and fiendish puzzles, and it really
does begin to sink it's teeth into you.  You may not rattle through the 60
levels at any great pace, but you will have the desire to see the next one.
By the time you've finished that lot, the planned data disk should be here.

The first real criticism is that the graphics just aren't clear enough.
The switches, vital in most levels, easily blend into the background
graphics, making them difficult to spot unless you're really looking for
them.  The baby Bogs aren't too difficult themselves to see, and there is a
neat "split-screen" effect which means you can view the main parent
character and either one of the baby Bogs at the same time.

What really annoyed me, however, was the restart level facility - or the
lack of it.  You cannot start a level again from scratch - you either start
from the very beginning of level 1 again, or you load a saved game.  Games
can be saved at any point, providing you have enough energy points, but the
constant loading/saving just to restart a level pulls you back out of the
game world and into the real world - something a game should never do on
purpose.  I can't see any point in NOT having a level restart facility, and
it is a real minus point for floppy-only users (the game is hard drive
installable, however).

Despite the storyline, I can't help thinking this is a game more suited to
the older gamesplayer - I know of a couple of Amiga-owning dads who would
sit all night with this one.  If you know someone like this too, Bograts is
another stocking-filler that'll keep them going long after the turkey
sandwiches have disappeared.

Pros: Level designs show thought, and the puzzle fan will enjoy working
through of the 60 stages - plenty to be going on with.

Cons: Confusing graphics, and poor restart facilities.  Not for those
without a brain.

Bograts is priced at 12.99UKP (+ 2UKP for P&P outside the UK), and can be
ordered from:

Vulcan Software Limited
Vulcan House
72 Queens Road
Buckland
Portsmouth
Hants PO2 7NA
UK