REVIEWS COURTESY OF ZXSR

Impossamole
by CORE Design Ltd: Barry Leitch
Gremlin Graphics Software Ltd
1990
Crash Issue 90, July 1991   (1991-06-20)   page(s) 41

Has anyone not heard of this cute little mole? He's starred in Wanted: Monty Mole, Monty On The Run and Auf Weidersehn Monty, making him one of the most famous characters on the computer screen. This is the latest of his escapades and has to be one of the best for graphics and gameplay.

You are Impossamole, the superhero of burrowing mammals, and have been chosen by aliens to save their world. To do this all you need to do is collect the sacred scrolls from the five guardians and return them to their rightful owners - a piece of cake.

Compared to other Monty Mole games Impossamole's quite a slow moving game. The little chappy trudges along the screen as if you were playing in slow motion, but it doesn't spoil the action too much and the well detailed and colourful compensate.

A lot of practice is needed to get far into the game. Nasties abound and come at you from all directions right from the start, some following a set pattern and some homing in on you. You're armed (or should that be pawed?) with a good karate chop and super weapons like laser guns and bombs can be collected along the way. Keeping your eyes peeled for energy and point bonuses is also a good idea (pity moles are more or less blind. isn't it?).

Impossamole would be excellent if the gameplay wasn't so tough. Until you've memorised exactly where each enemy comes from and what they do, it can be annoying to play. There's a massive landscape to be explored and many hidden bonus rooms so you get value for money in that department. Impossamole is recommended; especially if you're willing to persevere with it, it's a great game.

NICK


Overall79%
Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 76, May 1990   (1990-04-26)   page(s) 40,41

After years of adventuring Gremlin's brave little furry mole has retired to the sun, on his own personal tropical island. But all is not well, because one day he is visited by a none too friendly alien who demands that Monty destroy five Guardians and bring him their treasure.

This outing sees Monty as a superhero, with a groin crunching kick, bombs and a stun gun - and silly superhero clothing: a tracksuit and cape. He faces five levels full of derring do. Starting in the Orient he huffs and puffs his way up and down ladders, leaps from platform to platform in his quest for Guardians with Ninjas, Geisha girls, dogs and monkeys an more out to stop him - including end of level monsters like the dragon who guards the way to the Klondike Mines and level two. These are full of subterranean creatures, with a giant worm for a guardian. Monty continues on into the Ice World (brrr), the Amazon Forest and endless scrapes before he can see off the visiting alien. I've never been a great Monty Mole fan, and Impossamole does nothing to change my mind. The attacking creatures and backgrounds are both very colourful, but this very often causes colour clash, and as Monty himself is monochromatic, he changes colour more often than a chameleon. The screen flicks as you move around which is most annoying, and why is it that Monty seems to posses the reactions of a drugged snail? I seemed to have great difficulty moving our hero around with any great urgency.

MARK ... 64%


'Monty Mole was one of my childhood heroes! When someone got a Monty Mole game on my estate, everyone would rush around to take a peek at the rodent's addictive antics. We all thought those days had gone, but what's this? Yes, Monty has returned in Impossamole. Graphically it's really good. All the small but detailed sprites that appeared in the other Monty games have returned for a second showing, but this time they are accompanied by plenty of colours and outstanding backgrounds. The only trouble with Monty coming out of retirement is that he seems to have lost his knack for zipping about the screen (he's had quite a face lift too!). The game is much slower than the others were. There are some really impressive later levels in the game, the only trouble is getting to them. Impossamole offers more of the platforms and ladders fun that many Spectrumers have grown up with, coupled with great graphics: a recipe for an addictive game, if only it were a little faster.'
NICK ... 83%

Presentation76%
Graphics77%
Sound80%
Playability71%
Addictivity70%
Overall73%
Summary: The mole with the tracksuit is back in this enjoyable platform romp.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 53, May 1990   page(s) 82,83

It's a bit of an 'almost' game this one, I'm afraid. I wanted to like it, I really did. (Heck, I wanted to write lots of lovely things about it, give it a Megagame, say "Welcome, back, Monty, why'd you stay away so long?", things like that.) But, um, I can't really. Impossamole is... okay. Erm, well perhaps it's a bit better than okay, but it's no Rainbow islands, no New Zealand Story, no Rick Dangerous and no Wonderboy. (Perhaps we've just been spoilt by the frighteningly high standard of graphics and gameplay in coin-op conversions recently, I don't know.)

Don't get me wrong though - Impossamole isn't a terrible game, just a disappointing one. It could (and should) have been a lot better than it is, not the slightly old-fashioned, rather empty and a tiny bit ill-conceived plodder we've ended up with. To beat the Japanese at this sort of thing you've got to be perfect or near as dammit (just like they are), and 'perfect' isn't quite the word that springs to mind when you first see the new-look Monty Mole. (I think 'silly' is closer, actually.)

I mean, just look at the poor chap. Not only does he resemble a rather unhappy pig with a cape on more than any sort of mole I've ever seen (something confirmed by his basic fighting move - a kick - which reveals him to have trotters!) but he looks faintly uncomfortable throughout the game. Take his tree-climbing posture (please, take it!). Is that a fat slug wiggling away there, or what? His bat like gliding pose is even worse! (What was wrong with going for a much simpler main sprite, that's what I'd like to know. In Rainbow islands, Wonderboy - and even Dizzy! - our heroes were hardly animated at all, and worked perfectly. Monty tries too hard and comes across a bit dumb.)

The general standard of gameplay 'isn't quite there' either. Collision detection is generally ropey, attack patterns poorly timed, there's too little to collect and not enough to climb. Baddies are sadly thin on the ground too, and Monty himself is much too plodding, weak and slow. (It's not a beat-'em-up - he shouldn't have to faff around hitting baddies two or three times before they die.)

On the plus side, however, all five levels seem to be of a pretty high standard graphically, with lots of colour (and a fair amount of colour clash appearing too, unfortunately). Most of the sprites are quite well drawn (though nothing stunning), but I was a bit disappointed at how little has been done with the various themes of each level. The mine bit and the jungle are pretty run-of-the-mill, while I played the Oriental level about four times before realising it was meant to be set in the Far East! I thought it was an orchard or something, and those blokes attacking me were gardeners! How disappointing.

Actually the best of an uninspired bunch is probably the Switzerland-styled mountain bit, though even here there's far too little to do, only one way to go, and some very jerky scrolling messing the gameplay about a bit (a flip screen might have been a better idea if they were having these problems.)

(By the way, if you're like me you're probably trying to puzzle out what the connection is between these four very different locations. And if you're like me you've probably come up with an answer - there isn't one, they just seemed like a good idea to someone somewhere at the time. What a pity they didn't make each one a bit more interesting.)

And so to the conclusion. Despite lots of colour, some occasionally nifty touches and the return of an old favourite character, Impossamole is a bit of a disappointment. What it lacks is any really well thought out puzzles or gameplay. Throughout the games there's just one way to go, one way to avoid (or confront) a problem, one baddy to fact at a time, and, well, there should be a lot more. There should also be more things to collect, more platforms to climb, more secret rooms, more of everything really.

Sorry, but Impossamole comes across as a mid-'80s Spectrum character all tarted up with coin-op style trimmings and ending up looking faintly ridiculous. It's too slow, too pedestrian, too ill thought-out and too empty of interesting characters! perhaps I've been very hard on what is, after all, a reasonably colourful and pretty platform game, but I was expecting, or maybe just hoping for, a little more. It's not just that things like Rainbow Islands are incredibly hard acts to follow (though they are), it's that Impossamole isn't really inspiring by any standards, even by those of the old Monty Mole games.


Life Expectancy72%
Instant Appeal74%
Graphics78%
Addictiveness69%
Overall73%
Summary: Nice to see Monty back, but this really is a pretty uninspired platform and ladders romp. Better luck next time.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 68, August 1991   page(s) 60,61

My sources reveal that Impossamole is in fact the fifth and last in a long line of Monty Mole games, I can't actually recall what they were all called off-hand, so I'll subtly and cunningly drop them in mid-review when I remember.

But Impossamole. Is it the best of the lot or what? Well, in a word beginning with 'n' and ending with 'o', no. In true tradition it's still largely a platforms-and- ladders game (scrolling every now and then) with the customary baddy to stun, object to collect and puzzle to solve along the way. Although it was an improvement on the original two in the series where each screen played more as an individual puzzle (er, Wanted Monty Mole and Monty On The Run), it seemed to be taking rather a step back from Auf Wiedersehen Monty (the third) which quite brilliantly interlinked the puzzle element into a huge playing area. (Monty appeared for the fourth time sellotaped to the cover of YS in the exclusive Moley Christmas, of course.) Specific complaints included such remarks as "not enough platforms, ladders, or puzzles," "predictable movement patterns', "dodgy collision detection", "rather unsatisfactory graphics" and "a bit of a 'plodder" (a word which I've just made up to describe games which plod' along a bit too slowly for comfort).

However, these complaints are, and were, the sort of things that should have been said when reviewing the game as a full-pricer, and as a re-release barg I'm sure we can be a little more lenient. The five large levels (which can be played in your favourite order) certainly mean you're getting value for your moolah. And, well, it's good clean fun. Certainly worth a look if you thought "Hmm. Well, shall I buy it or not?" beforehand, and then didn't.


Overall79%
Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 99, May 1990   page(s) 20

Impossamole? Unfairamole more like. Gremlin's latest and long awaited instalment in the Monty series features some really rather unnecessarily difficult bits.

By far the worst offender, deserving a good back-room mattress stomping from the Gaming Police are the Deadly Bats of Ultimate Death. These apparently innocent creatures flap about and fire bullets at you. No ordinary bullets these. In fact, they seem to follow entirely different rules to everything else in the game. Instead of draining your energy, as even the most deadly and enormous foes do, they kill you outright on their first contact. Game Over. No second chances.

There really isn't any excuse for such flaws in game design. It simply looks as if the pre-prod game was examined, deigned to be too easy and these leathery nemeses were inserted as half an after-thought.

Later levels feature other equally deadly beasts, and while some are more decently positioned, this sort of instant game ending strikes me as a bit unfair.

Moat of the game, though, is perfectly enjoyable in a slightly routine sort of way. Your aim is to explore the undeniably large levels of a dangerous land in search of cash. To cope with the denizens of the world you're exploring, you're equipped - at various stages of play - with bombs, a bazooka and, if the worst comes to the worst, your bare paws. You've also got a super weapon which kills every foe on your current screen. Needless to say, these are few and far between.

As far as I could tell, there's no way of telling how many bombs/bazooka rockets you've got left. This, inevitably will have you in many a tricky situation, utterly and unexpectedly cornered.

And another thing. I know that the Mole games are set in mystical magical worlds and I realize it would be pedantic and petty to expect absolute realism, but some things are still a little queer; why is the mole bigger than a human? Why do virtually all characters need to be shot twice (some even five times) with a Bazooka before they lie down? And why, when jumping, do you continually fall off ledges which you clearly reach?

If you're a fan of the genre, then Impossamole may be right down your tunnel. It offers a stiff challenge, full of colourful graphics, and the sort of hop, skip and jump progress which requires meticulous planning. Personally, I found it a bit of a drudge.

Label: Gremlin
Price: £8.95
Reviewer: Jim Douglas


Graphics80%
Sound68%
Playability70%
Lastability70%
Overall74%
Summary: Nice break from humourless death and destruction. Bit low on the thrill front.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 116, October 1991   page(s) 40,41

{The review text has been taken from Issue 117 - this review was unintelligible, presumably in the magazine also given the truly awful colours chosen - black text on a black background!}

Sega has Sonic the Hedgehog, Nintendo has Mario and the Spectrum has... Impossamole!

Monty the mole is back! Back into active service on budget and ready to combat evil in a sprawling, graphic, platform adventure.

The most recent of line of Monty releases, Impossamole has Monty's with superpowers, given to him by aliens before sending him on a mission to defeat the Five Guardians and re-take the sacred scrolls of eternal life.

There are five levels to explore spanning forests, iceland and underground caverns etc, all infested with various infuriating and varied hazards - from homing bats and robots to little old men and unidentifiable beasties.

And staying alive in this onslaught is not easy with only one life represented by a meter at the top of the screen that can only be topped up by the all too infrequent pick ups. A time limited special weapon can be used to clear the screen and lots of not so special bombs, rocket launchers and guns can be found behind trees.

As with most platform games the mission is almost immaterial as precedence is always given to staying alive which is extremely hard to do. Controls are very sluggish and only lots of practice will see you through.

Impossamole is still fun and looks great, with some excellent use of colour. The option to load up any one of four out of the five levels means the repetitiveness created by the difficulty is almost overcome. A strong product with lasting appeal.

Label: Gremlin
Memory: 48K/128K
Price: £3.99 Tape, N/A Disk
Reviewer: Steve Keen


Graphics84%
Sound70%
Playability70%
Lastability79%
Overall80%
Summary: If you want a real platforming challenge you can't get much tougher than this. A whole lotta mole!

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 117, November 1991   page(s) 50

{Presumably this is a re-print of the unintelligible mess of the review text that was in the previous issue. It has the same scores and overall outcome so it must be presumed it's just a re-print.}

Sega has Sonic the Hedgehog, Nintendo has Mario and the Spectrum has... Impossamole!

Monty the mole is back! Back into active service on budget and ready to combat evil in a sprawling, graphic, platform adventure.

The most recent of line of Monty releases, Impossamole has Monty's with superpowers, given to him by aliens before sending him on a mission to defeat the Five Guardians and re-take the sacred scrolls of eternal life.

There are five levels to explore spanning forests, iceland and underground caverns etc, all infested with various infuriating and varied hazards - from homing bats and robots to little old men and unidentifiable beasties.

And staying alive in this onslaught is not easy with only one life represented by a meter at the top of the screen that can only be topped up by the all too infrequent pick ups. A time limited special weapon can be used to clear the screen and lots of not so special bombs, rocket launchers and guns can be found behind trees.

As with most platform games the mission is almost immaterial as precedence is always given to staying alive which is extremely hard to do. Controls are very sluggish and only lots of practice will see you through.

Impossamole is still fun and looks great, with some excellent use of colour. The option to load up any one of four out of the five levels means the repetitiveness created by the difficulty is almost overcome. A strong product with lasting appeal.

Label: Gremlin
Memory: 48K/128K
Price: £3.99 Tape, N/A Disk
Reviewer: Steve Keen


Graphics84%
Sound70%
Playability70%
Lastability79%
Overall80%
Summary: If you want a real platforming challenge you can't get much tougher than this. A whole lotta mole!

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 103, June 1990   page(s) 40,41

Gremlin
Spectrum £9.99, Amiga/ST £19.99

Monty Mole became a national hero during the Miners' Strike. His coal-pinching antics brought him, and Gremlin, untold fame and fortune in the form of substantial coverage on New At Ten and the considerable sales which followed. Never ones to miss out on a spot of money-making, the Sheffield softco released two more games based on the lovable earth-tunneler; Monty On The Run and Auf Weidersehn Monty. Everyone thought that, once Monty had reached his island paradise of Moledavia, he would be left in peace, but no siree. He's back, only now he's a Supermole, complete with cape!

And how has this come about? An alien race, overrun by a enemy force controlled by the infamous Five Guardians, has been monitoring Monty's escapades over the years and has decided that, given the correct powers, he can overthrow the invaders and return the planet to normality. Never one to turn down a plea for help, Monty accepts and, in his new persona, sets out to defeat those baddies and receive a big wad of dosh in the process. What ensues is over 200 screens of platform antics spread across five distinct levels, in which Monty must annihilate the intruders using his fists and, should he find them, bombs and a bazooka. If any of the enemy should come into contact with him, Monty will lose energy; luckily, strewn across the planet are cans of worms which, when picked up, add to our hero's strength bar. Also to be found are shops where Monty can purchase useful items - should he find enough cash to pay for them!


Overall70%
Summary: The number of decent, cheap platform games on the Spectrum makes it rough for this version of Impossamole to make a good impression. It suffers from obscure, blobby sprites and like the ST version, it's frustratingly difficult from the outset.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 119, October 1991   page(s) 88

GBH
Spectrum £3.99

Monty is back, this time in supermole form as he helps the inhabitants of a friendly planet resist the overtures of an alien army. Using all his wit, guile and whatever weapons he can find, Monty must traverse the 200-plus screens spread across five levels before he can defeat the invasion force.

Impossamole could have been, like all the Monty games preceeding it, classic platform fare. Unfortunately, it suffers from a dodgy control system making for frustrating play. Graphically pleasing, sonically what you'd expect for a Speccy, Monty Mole comes a cropper in the playability stakes.


Overall62%
Transcript by Chris Bourne

The Games Machine Issue 30, May 1990   page(s) 43

Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99
Amstrad CPC Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99
Commodore 64/128 Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99
Atari £19.99
Amiga £19.99

ON THE FIRST DAY GREMLIN CREATED MOLE - SIX YEARS LATER THERE'S

It was a dark, dark night. So very dark, in fact, that even if you were wearing white gloves you'd still be hard pushed to see your hand in front of your face. It was also a hot, humid night and millionaire playboy Monty Mole was having difficulty sleeping. He'd already nipped downstairs 37 times to fetch glasses of lemonade but still couldn't cool down.

Giving up, he stood outside next to his swimming pool, a chlorine oasis on his private island, and luxuriated in the light breeze. Gazing into the black sky, he saw what he at first thought was a bright star. But then it moved across the sky and brightened further. It grew in apparent size... It was coming toward him.

Soon it was overhead. It was the size of a small branch of WH Smiths, but didn't stock as wide a range of magazines. Its blinding glow dimmed (lucky for Monty he was a mole, thus already had iffy eyesight and was largely unaffected by the light). Monty could then tell it was a flying saucer. Well, it was big, round and had a flashing neon sign saying 'Flying Saucer' on it, so it seemed a reasonable deduction.

A hatch opened in its side, ramp extended, and a seven-foot tall alien strode purposefully out... and fell into the swimming pool. He swam to the side (doing the butterfly stroke, in case you're interested) and dragged himself out. Brandishing a hefty-looking waterproof laser rifle, the alien, who bore a resemblance to a cross between Darth Vader and Metal Mickey with a hangover, convinced Monty (with use of said firearm) to go on a mission to rid the world of five extremely unpleasant guardians.

In the end, Monty didn't mind being forced into the mission because the aliens endowed him with super powers. Megakicks. Stun gun. Bombs. Silly jumpsuit and cloak. In addition, there's money, jewels and handy items to collect.

Monty has to bound through the Orient, a Klondike mine, an ice world and the Amazon jungle. He faces ninja, monkeys, polar bears, frogs and many other creatures on his travels.

If you've played other Monty games, many of the traps in his latest adventure will seem familiar. For instance, platform and ladder networks, bottomless pits, and harmful surfaces make an appearance. Worst of all are the guardians themselves (and no, they don't bombard the mole with typo errors). A dragon, giant worm, mutant ice-cream cone and tree monster all take some beating.

It's been a long time since Monty last made an appearance - but he's finally back. Perhaps it's just as well Auf Wiedersehen, Monty, the last mole platform game before this, was the worst of the series and a great disappointment after Monty On The Run. It makes Impossimole look very good.

The bad news is that Impossimole isn't as good as Monty OTR, but it does take you back to the good old days of simple yet highly playable platform and ladders games. Deft manoeuvres and pixel-perfect jumps are required, and it's highly infuriating to just miss a ledge and plummet into danger. It's this that keeps you playing - you vow to get past each troublesome section, you won't let a simple jump beat you. The kicks and weaponry increase the action and, with the end-of-level guardians, variety and toughness of the game.

Although not an outstanding game, Impossimole is a fun game that's worth burrowing out.


Overall78%
Summary: For some reason Gremlin have decided to give Monty a facelift; not just adding a superhero cloak but putting him on a diet and giving him a cute snout and bulging eyes. He's animated very well and has a very pleasing humourous, cartoon-like air about him - a definite improvement over the old mole. Other characters in the game aren't quite as good, but backgrounds are detailed and colourful (although this does cause attribute problems in places).

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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