It's a Knockout
by Keith A. Purkiss, Dawn Drake, Simon Butler
Ocean Software Ltd
Crash Issue 37, February 1987   (1987-01-22)   page(s) 26

Six European countries compete in the wacky events that make up It's a Knockout, the TV show that was all the rage years ago. Now OCEAN bring a taste of the action to your computer screen in another TV tie-in.

Teams play against one another in five events and the computer calls on each country in turn to compete against the clock - a horizontal bar in the status area shows the time remaining in the current game. The computer ads as 'master of ceremonies', updating the scoreboard as necessary, calling teams into the arena to attempt events, and playing for countries that have not been allocated to a human player. A marathon game is played by all the countries and the computer chooses when a team should compete in this sixth event.

Fun with food initiates the contest in Flying Flans, played in a room divided by a wall. The computer controls a pair of flan-flingers who use a see-saw on the left of the screen to propel flans into the air. You control a waiter on the other side of the wall and the aim is to catch the airborne puds by moving the waiter so they land on his tray. As flans are dropped, the floor gets slippery and the waiter starts to lose his tooting.

Then it's from the dining room to the desert for Harlem Hoppers. Balls are rolled down a camel's back zooming over the hump before shooting into the air as they leave the camel's tail. The contestant has to run and catch the balls, but is attached to a strong piece of elastic anchored to the left of the screen which restricts movement. To make life a little more awkward, the ground had been well greased.

Members of your team are all at sea for Titanic Drop. They are standing on the bow of a ship and take it in turns to use a pulley and slide down an angled rope. To score points they must let go of the rope at the right moment and land in the middle of one of four rubber rings floating in the water.

Diet of Worms sees your character dressed in a chicken suit, romping around a green field pecking at worms that peek through the grass. Worms must be collected and placed in a container at the foot of the screen.

The final event places you in competition with a computer controlled runner on a split-screen horizontally-scrolling obstacle course. Walls, water troughs and giant rolling balls have to be negotiated and speed kept up by frantic key pounding or joystick waggling.

In the marathon, Bronte Bash, you are a crane operator controlling a ton weight which moves horizontally along the sky above a row of trapdoors. The weight is dropped by pressing and holding fire, and every so often a dinosaur pops his head out of a trapdoor selected at random. The idea is to bop the monster on the head before it disappears. As the game progresses the dinosaurs get cannier, remaining above ground for shorter and shorter periods of time.

Control keys: Q-P up; A-ENTER down; CAPS, C, N left; Z. V, M right; X, B, SYM SHIFT fire
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2
Use of colour a bit garish
Graphics: weak animation; uninspired
Sound: blippy spot effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: seven

'This really is the pits. The gameplay is about as compelling as watching paint dry. The graphics are awful: there's lots of colour clash and the characters are badly drawn and appallingly animated. The sound is also below average - there are no tunes and the effects are dodgy. I'd keep well away from this if I was you. Nobody deserves to waste their money on dross like this.'

'Thank goodness OCEAN haven't made a complete hash of this game - but it still isn't that good. I reckon the graphics are fairly well done-each screen contains loads of colour. At least the events are like the stupid things that happened in that awful TV programme. The sound is very poor, and doesn't add any atmosphere - where's Stuart Hall's idiotic cackling? I feel that the game is too short to be any fun playing, and the events don't involve much work to get any kind of score. It's a Knockout may appeal to the younger market, but most people will find it very shallow and boring.'

'Well. Games without Frontiers (Jeux Sans Frontiers) by Peter Gabriel is definitely the song to play this to. There are major differences between record, TV programme, and game. The record is superb. The TV programme was bearable. The game is dire. The feel of the game is decidedly dodgy - it doesn't respond to the controls consistently, and when you add it all up there's not much depth to It's A Knockout. OCEAN' S effort is pretty grim - and I can't understand why the company that managed to turn out decent simulations like the two Daley Thompson games should produce this.'

Value for Money33%
Summary: General Rating: A poor multi-player event game - Ocean would have done better to have applied some of the skills that lay behind the Daley Thompson games.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 13, January 1987   page(s) 86

It's a scream! It's a cracker! It's a holler! It's ten years late! Yipee! Yahoo! Y... Ahem. Ah yes, I remember It's A Knockout.

Many's the time I sat, as a spotty little kid. chomping my way through a box of choccies (hence the spots), watching this Chinese water torture. Jeux Sans Taste was an endless parade of people battering themselves, slipping down greasy poles, catching pneumonia, and all this whilst suffering the humiliation of wearing a 'funny' animal suit in front of millions of viewers. It's a bit like being punished for some heinous misdeed, which is also the effect it always had on me as a viewer.

Now the powers that be have turned this embarrassing spectacle into a pair of spectacles; now you can embarrass yourself without getting wet in your own front room. Well, I suppose it beats being tied to a sixty foot inflatable elephant with an elastic rope... though only just.

It's A Knockout is a hastily crafted grab bag of arbitrary games, proving that the only frontiers that the games are without are those of taste, sense and playability. The Bronte Bash is a boring and repetitive waste of time. Harlem Hoppers is a game where you catch balls being rolled down a camel's back, so why it's called Harlem Hoppers beats me. Titanic Drop is a wacky game of falling in the water. Obstacle Race is Daley Thompson's Decathlon without any control. Diet of Worms turns your Spectrum into one of those drinking bird novelties, and finally... yes, the old pie in the mush returns with Flying Flans. If you've ever had a custard pie in the face, you'll know just how unfunny having your nostrils full of shaving foam really is. About as unfunny as this game in fact.

It suffers mainly from cramming too many games into the computer's memory, each one having a paltry 8K to be stupid in. This is about as much use as a chocolate teapot.

Value For Money4/10
Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 56, November 1986   page(s) 92

It's a Knockout. Now there was a TV program! How I remember Eddie Waring's incisive wit and Stuart Hall's infexious laughter.

Now, according to dark rumours too horrible to countenance, the whole thing is to return.

Ocean has done a computer version that leaves me speechless.

It recaptures something of the original flavour of the TV programme in being, foolish, rambling, ludicrous and amateurish although it brings in the whacky new feature of attribute clash to make things even more kooky.

There are several games in it's a Knockout, all of them silly, most of them quickly tedious.

You pick a country and play through the events in authentic it's a Knockout style. This means there are a number of games played 'at once' and a continuing game 'the marathon' played by each country between the usual games. I decided to be Belgium since then it wouldn't matter if I failed miserably.

First up is Flying Flans. You control a waiter who tries to catch flans which come hurtling over a wall - having been launched by two men with a see-saw and a mallet. Catch the flan and take it off screen.

Collect more flans. The graphics are budget standard but it's sort of fun in a way. Once.

Harlem Hoppers is nothing to do with its title. At first glance it appears you're collecting camel dung whilst stretching against a spring. Actually it appears to be small round objects rolled down the camels back by a woman member of your team.


Titanic Drop is sliding down a rope trying to land in coloured lifebels. Even more awful.

Diet of Worms has two people dressed as chickens - they have to peck at worms and put them in a tray. The chickens change colour completely because of attribute clash depending on where they are standing. It seems to belong to another game.

Obstacle Race is just like the hundred metres in one of a thousand other Track and Field games except that sometimes you have to jump silly obstacles. It is very tedious and it looks appalling. Infinitely worse than a trillion other budget offerings.

However, the marathon game, called Bronte Bash is pretty gdod, quite nicely programmed and actually very funny (if cruel). You have to move a giant weight and drop it on the head of a brontasaurus which peeps up from inside one of a number of craters. I felt bad about stunning the rather innocent looking beast. The feeling quickly passed.

One OK-ish game and the rest a joke, only in an unintended sense. just like the TV program really.

Label: Ocean
Author: In house
Price: £7.95
Joystick: Kempston
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor


Summary: Six games in one. Five of them absolutely dreadful. One of them not too bad. Therefore I doubt if the whole thing's worth it.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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