High Steel
by Intelligent Design Ltd
Screen 7 Ltd
Crash Issue 67, August 1989   (1989-07-27)   page(s) 41

It's the game of the job that everybody wants to do, building! I used to play with my Lego blocks for hours and now you can do the same sort of thing (without losing that crucial bit to hold the whole thing up) with High Steel from Screen 7.

A crane drops building materials, with food occaisionally, into the construction plant, and from there you pick-up girders and bricks to build floors of a skyscraper to complete each level.

Firstly place a girder on a flat piece of ground and put a brick on top by climbing up the girder. When a row of five girders and bricks are in position you've completed the first levels. The second level requires two floors with strong foundation.

This may seem easy to the unsuspecting reader, but there are hindrances to bugger up your day's work. Gremlins, mothers, crawlers, spinets, banana skins and a entire host of nastier have been brought to life to knock you down, slip you up and generally knock you about. All these enemies are cleverly designed. For Instance, the gremlins come along and drop eggs on the platform. Then a mother is sent down from the skies to hatch the egg into a crawler. Luckily the builder can kill the gremlins, mothers and crawlers with his trusty old spanner.

High Steel's a really simple idea but can be infuriatingly difficult to play. Just as a space is cleared to put down a girder the stupid crane goes and puts another brick (here and stops you from placing the girder! Arrgghh! The cartoony-style characters are brilliant and are all animated well. It's a pity the colour's limited to just blue and white, but you can't have everything can you?

To round off this very arcade-style game there are ditties and sound FX to complement the non-stop action perfectly. High Steel may get so annoying that you want to throw the computer out of the window, but it's worth it for the arcade addictivness.


'This game is soooo frustrating! Each level is quite challenging (except the first one), so by the time you're really getting on, any loss of life can result in the breakage of joysticks and things! The graphics are fairly poor; there's nothing special to make it attractive, and the sound's fairly simplistic, but there's something about the game design that makes it incredibly compulsive. You have to play it for a while to really get to like it, but once hooked... The presentation is unremarkable, but High Steel definitely has that intangible 'it' that makes playing enjoyable.'

Summary: An original game theme that will have you hooked!

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 45, September 1989   page(s) 91

Well it was an original idea at least, but I'm afraid this follow up to Screen 7's spiffy (and rather massive) watery shoot 'em up Jaws is a bit of a let down. Don your hob-nailed boots, push out your beer belly, tone up your builder's bottom and I'll tell you why.

Imagine a platform game in which you have to build your own platforms! Well, here it is. High Steel is a monochrome, multi-level and massively tedious building bricks kind of game. You play one of the construction industry's highest qualified skyscraper builders. And your aim is to complete the building of a multi-level skyscraper. But building floors is a tricky old business - not just a case of bolting together a couple of RSJs! And to make matters worse, the building site on which you're working is infested with horrible little critters like gremlins, crawlers and spiders, as well as falling bricks and banana skins - all of which conspire to make your job as hard as possible. To cap it all off, the contractors have given you a time limit in which to complete the job. So you better get cracking - it'll be more than your job's worth it you don't.

A crane delivers the girders and bricks you need to build your skyscraper, and it does so at varying rates. It begins quite slowly, but from the second level onwards speeds up. Your aim is to move the building materials around (using the up, down, left, right, fire, pick up, drop control system), erect a row of girders standing in a line and then link the tops of them together by scrambling up and placing a brick on each. There - you've linked a row of them together and completed a floor! Now what? Oh dear, more of the same.

I'll admit, level One wasn't too bad. I managed to work out quite quickly that I needed to erect girders and lock them together with five bricks. But Level Two was murder! The aim there was to build two storeys with five bricks on top. (At least, I think that's what the aim was - working out just what you have to build by trial and error, going methodically through every possible permutation of bricks and girders, just about sums up the whacky high jinxes of this game!) Anyway, assuming I guessed the task correctly, the simplest way to do it would be to complete one storey and then carry the girders up to its top and complete the next one. But I found I couldn't. It was impossible to carry one girder up to the top of another.

Okay, I thought, I'll wait until the crane drops the girders handy-dandily on top the level I've just built, then construct the next floor. So I waited and waited, only to find the crane dropped the bricks and girders everywhere but where I wanted them! I was tearing my hair out before I sussed it.

The only way to complete the level was to erect girders along the whole length of the screen and lock them together! (How are you supposed to get into the building then? Pedantic Ed) Well, you probably can't. But anyway, then and only then, would the crane drop the girders on the top level. Aaargh! Even when I'd sussed it, actually managing to do it took ages. The crane kept dropping bricks just where I wanted to place my last two girders, and each time I managed to shift them and was just about to plonk a girder in their place... the crane delivered another brick there! Double aaargh!

The other elements of the game - the gremlins and bricks that drop on your head and stun you, the mothers and crawlers that are fatal to the touch (but can be killed by being hurled at with a spanner), the spitters that gob acid at you, and the banana skins that slip you up - are but further irritations. When you get stunned, it seems like ages before you can get going again, and even though you can see the bricks and gremlins just about to drop, you can't move fast enough to get out of their way. Double triple aargh!

The graphics are nice, but given the non-scrolling and blocky nature of the game more colour could have been used. All in all then, although the idea behind High Steel is certainly original, I'm afraid the end result is simply tedious and frustrating. Not for those who want to keep their sanity.

Life Expectancy50%
Instant Appeal52%
Summary: An appealing idea that just doesn't work in practice. Dull and frustrating.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 88, April 1993   page(s) 17

These Ones That Got Away can get depressing. More often than not, it's patently obvious why the games got away in the first place. Then, out of the blue (what an odd expression that is. What's 'the blue'? Presumably the sky, but how many things drop out of the sky? Surely it would be more sensible to say 'out of the grey when I was trying to cross over to the corner shop' or something similar) you get a game like High Steel, with... erm, hang on. I've completely forgotten what I was going to say before that brackety interruption. Damnation.

Ah, that's it. High Steel is a jolly surprise, as it's a fab little game. It's also utterly original. You play a construction worker, and have to build various floors of a gigantic building. These levels consist of upright girders (the walls) and bricks (the floors). While you're rushing around trying to do this, various gremlins are crawling about, eating the bricks, knocking you over and generally getting in the way. To add complications, the crane driver, who delivers extra girders and so on, seems to be ever so slightly mad and keeps putting things in entirely the wrong place. Also, bricks from higher levels keep plummetting down and bashing you atop the bonce. It's tough at the top (of a forty-storey building, that is).

Now these are only the bare bones of this incredibly complicated game. The inlay folds out in to something resembling a model glider, and is packed with rules and regulations governing the way the crane moves, or what each species of gremlin can do to you. or how exactly you place a girder. It fair makes the mind reel, but at least playing the thing makes everything clear. Well, more or less. So to avoid lots of you getting the prog then jumping out of windows, we'll run through a sample game. Now pay attention. I may be asking questions later.

You start off having to build a single level, and immediately the crane starts dropping bricks all over the place. Four of these can be piled on top of each other before you have to move to a new space, and you can only place a girder in a clear space, so the first thing to do is, erm, make a space (I'm so glad you're clarifying things tor the readers. Ed) Once a girder's in place, you can swarm up it and start laying bricks. Now here's the bit the instructions don't mention - each girder can only support two bricks. Evilly, you need to lay a floor of at least five bricks in length to complete the screen. Bah. Oh, and all the while these horrible gremlins are slurping about in a dreadfully messy manner. You have to push them off the scaffolding or (on later levels) shoot 'em with your rivet gun.

There. Sounds brilliant, doesn't it? Worth a magnificently high mark, eh? What - the dodgy controls? Okay, that's true, you do tend to loose a killer rivet without meaning to, which is especially annoying considering one of the gremlins just spits them back at you. Erm, and you're correct in saying the randomly falling bricks get very annoying. But those are only minor points! Oh. all right, they're pretty major ones. (Shucks.) But what about the massively positive bits, eh? The graphics are big, chunky, smooth and well animated. There are a couple of buzzy tunes (but no in-game effects). Each level brings new obstacles like banana skins (yikes!) and the gremlins are constantly mutating in to even nastier forms. Honestly, it's like an early-'80s arcade game - a sparkling game design with billions of features sprinkled on top. I love it I'll tell you what - let's agree to differ. How does 76% sound?

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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