Micromega have two games in this issue, and both are by the same author. Kentilla is a text/graphics adventure in the classic vein, but with Jasper Derek Brewster has changed tack completely (although it could well be called an arcade/adventure game) and taken himself and Micromega far away from the universe of 3D. Jasper is an all swinging, all singing, all dancing jump, hop and collect game in the tradition of Jet Set Willy. However collecting here isn't a question of collecting for points but because the various objects have a strictly defined purpose and use, which is what adds the adventure element.
Jasper is a mouse and the basic object of the game is to guide him from the start screen to the finishing screen without getting finished off en route. There are 22 screens to negotiate, all linked in the sense that you can move from one to the next and back again (or in one case down and up again). This is rather important because Jasper can only carry five objects at a time which means often having to drop something and then return for it. Consequently the 22 screens become more in terms of completing the game. The items collected (by standing on them and pressing the collect key) appear in small boxes at the top of the playing area and they may be used by pressing the appropriate numerical key. Each object does have a specific use - ropes are pretty obvious, but umbrellas? Well think carefully - this is a cartoon comic strip - press the button when forced to leap off a high place and bingo - the brolly opens to lower Jasper to the ground safely. Once used an object vanishes.
Up against Jasper are a series of problems which include traditional platform strategical thinking, various animated animals like big cats, bunnies, wasps, spiders, snakes and scorpions, flowers which may be helpful or lethal and natives that throw coconuts and spears. Each screen has its own identity and share of the horrors. Fortunately Jasper has a mighty leap and can walk on two feet or duck down to all fours. Indeed, Jasper is a Mighty Mouse.
Control keys: A/S left/right, Y to P up (rope), jump and release rope (when swinging), H to ENTER down (rope), and duck, B to SPACE = get an object, 1 to 5 = use carried object by box number, Q to T plus 1 to 5 = drop carried object.
Joystick: none - too many keys
Keyboard play: highly responsive, with two directional keys next to each other, leaves other hand free for key selection, but a programmable joystick might be an advantage here
Use of colour: excellent, very varied and bright
Graphics: excellent, marvellous animation and detail, fast and smooth and without any flicker
Sound: continuous tune and spot effects
Skill levels: 1
'What first struck me with this game is the sharpness and clarity of the numerous graphics, also their realism. A lot of hard work must have gone into creating the graphics. So much moves with this game, and everything that moves is so well animated. Many skills are required with Jasper, timing being one of the major ones, but this is also definitely a true arcade adventure (many others have claimed to be) because you need to find the objects to help you move onto the next screen; these objects are practical in the sense that you can and must use them, they're not just there for points. No detail whatever has been spared on this game on either the graphical or content side. Jasper is just such a pleasing game to play seems to me to be perfect, and will need to be played a great deal to overcome the difficulty factor built in. It is, in my opinion, a distinct advance on the Jet Set Willy type of game. Worth every penny and I really recommend it.'
'Jasper has the makings of a hit game - tremendous graphics, well calculated problems to overcome and a marvellous hero in Jasper himself. There are quite a few keys used to control the game, so familiarity with the layout is important, since some decisions have to be made in a great hurry. Fortunately one key can do several things like Y to P will make Jasper climb up a rope, release it if he's swinging or just simply jump if he's on the ground or a platform. This is not an easy game, each screen is likely to kill you off at a moment's notice, but should you get through it safely there is a real time clock displayed, and the long term objectives are obviously to improve not only the score but also the time taken overall. On the subject of timing, there is also a time limit in which to get off a screen, which makes things even meaner. Very much a game of timing skill, Jasper is marvellous, and infuriatingly addictive.'
'This is a sort of Jungle Trouble-plus game - very plus, because the graphics are excellent. There are so many different creatures, all of them beautifully animated and detailed, and all of them lethal! It has been constructed so that things seem impossible, when they aren't - good timing and a good memory are essential. But the adventure elements such as collecting useful objects and then finding out what to do with them (some have obvious uses, others less so) adds immensely to the playability of Jasper. Your mouse is also very versatile - pity the fingers aren't always as good! Micromega have fooled everybody with this game because it isn't 3D at all and it just goes to show that a well thought out idea, well implemented doesn't need 3D to make it addictive or fun to play. Jasper will take a long time to get through. Great game.'
|Use of Computer||86%|
|Value For Money||89%|
Ah, this takes me back. Even though the state-of-the-art animation this game boasted two years ago now pales alongside most of the software around at the moment, it still has some of that good or magic.
It all revolves round this 'dirty rat', Jasper, who's lost his way home as well as his front door key. With 22 screens to discover, you'll have to get the hang of it PDQ or you'll end up wandering round only three like I did. That was until I realised the potion on the top level of the tree was an antidote to the instant death I was suffering at the hands - or should I say leaves - of the huge plant blocking my exit from the third screen.
That's what made Jasper exciting at the time - it was one of the first games to introduce the interesting elements of adventure games into an arcade. You can pick up and collect up to five objects at a time and use them to get past otherwise impossible opposing forces.
Jasper can do all the usual rat type movements like left, right and crouch as well as some rather death defying leaps at dangling ropes so he can get across vast expanses of water. He's obviously not that athletic 'cos he spent most of his time crouching in terror from his various adversaries which include polar bears, panthers, scorpions, spiders and a not-so-cuddly rabbit. Don't ask me, I didn't stock the jungle!
The graphics aren't brill but they set the scene admirably - just look at the way the panther walks. In the words of the dirty rat himself, it's top of the world Ma!
|Value For Money||7/10|
Roger: Forget the nonsensical story line - "mummy rat warning young Jasper about how dangerous the jungle becomes after the 'Furt is Wangled'" - because this superb offering is obviously intended as a covert training aid to Central American guerrillas. Twenty-two screens of lethal shrubbery, wildlife and obstacles have to be negotiated successfully, to recover the key and get safely back indoors... to continue one's studies of Che Guevara's Collected Works in Basic, no doubt!
Everything kills with gory certainty, but a smart rat can collect all sorts of useful tackle along the way. Pacifists will relish Jasper's inability to slaughter vindictive rabbits, spiders, wasps, dogs, bears, scorpions, frogs and monkeys (not to mention the odd 'Contra' chucking spears and the sinister helicopter buzzing through some frames, blasting away at our Jasp). Avoidance and survival skills are the name of this game.
Assault course simulation is a strong feature, with ropes in situ to swing on and others lying about in handy coils for later use. Picking flowers helps jumping ability, food can be picked up for score and sustenance, umbrellas stored for cliff descent and the occasional aerosol spray used for dodgy weed disposal. Acquisition of Magic Potion restores lives, too. If you can handle attractive cartoon graphics, excellent arcade tactics and essential adventure strategy, then an awful lot of practice with Jasper could get you a decent job as a full-time guerrilla. 5/5 HIT
Dave: Jasper has a lot of very pretty graphics, but technically the game's a bit naff. Swinging on the ropes makes the tune slow down and the attribute problems are awful. 1/5 MISS
Ross: Another 'jumping/platform' games where you utilise various objects to aid your progress. Jasper's ability to crawl, use ropes and perform extra long jumps adds to the thrill, but not enough to keep me interested. 2.5/5 MISS
HEY rat fans, Roland has a competitor in Jasper, a 22 screen arcade game which is about as much fun as bubonic plague.
In this overland, and overhyped, version of Manic Miner Jasper has to jump and crawl through assorted obstacles, such as yellow bears and spiders, collecting treasure chests and money bags which grow on trees. The bags give the furry rodent energy and extra lives, all of which you will need to get through even the first three screens.
On novelty which is not available in Manic Miner is that you can move off both edges of the screen into other scenarios without scrambling through exits. The game is not mapable as we found when we went off the first screen with its bionic bunny to a prowling wild cat. Moving back to what should have been a rabbit screen disclosed a new format with yellow panthers. Confused?
The game is not compatible with joysticks, or at least does not proclaim their use on the cassette insert. Once loaded the computer launches into a demo mode and no joysticks show up there either. Jasper may only require a few control keys to play but it is an obvious candidate for joysticks and it is amazing that they are not included.
MACHINE: Spectrum 48k
The craze for this year certainly seems to be graphical adventure games.
This latest from Micromega is better than most, and also a lot harder.
You are controlling a cute character called Jasper who can move left to right and jump. The easiest way to remember the rules is that anything which moves will kill you.
As Jasper moves off the side of a screen, he will reappear on another. You don't have to collect all the objects on a screen at once, but you can come back to them later if you want.
Before you even start to play the game, the first thing you'll notice is that there aren't any blue and yellow flashing border stripes while the game loads. This is a feature of Micromega's turbo loader and it works well. It also gives you a chance to enjoy the title screen without being hypnotised at the same time.
The graphics are gorgeous. Beehives hang from trees and rather large bees flap their wings as they fly. A rabbit hops around on some of the screens and his back legs move in and out just like the real thing. There are also leopards after which move very realistically.
The instructions which come with the game are deliberately brief. The idea is that you find things out for yourself, just like in a real Adventure. Some of the objects which are lying around should be collected and will help you on later screens, Others won't.
A tune plays the the background during game, though you can turn this off.
All in all, a good, non-violent game. Unless, of course, a coconut falls off the tree and squashes the bunny.
MACHINE: Spectrum 48K
FROM: Micromega, £6.95
Jasper! is an arcade adventure with 22 screens in which you have to get past animal and vegetable obstacles using a variety of objects. Your character is gracefully animated with a pot-belly and curling tale which wobbles as he walks along.
There are a number of things which you can pick up and use: ropes, weedkiller sprays, potions, brollies, a key and a flag. These can be picked up so that they appear in a box at the top of the screen.
You can carry no more than five at once and use them only one at a time, by pressing the number of the box in which it is shown.
The obstacles that bar your way home consist of realistically animated rabbits, wasps, big cats, bears, snakes and scorpions. There are also deadly weeds, and a fall from a tree or a vine is fatal.
Jasper can jump over obstacles or duck under them and even swing on ropes to cross some hazards. While doing this the rope counts as an item picked up, so don't try and grab any ropes while you're carrying five things.
Your journey will take a long time and you will need sustenance in the form of purple apples and yellow bananas to keep you going. To begin with, running out of energy is the least of your worries: you're too busy dodging the killer bunny. However, as you get the hang of the screens you can settle down to try and work out the problems that face you.
There is no one way of doing things and tasks can be completed in different orders as long as you have planned out your route carefully. I haven't told you how to use the objects but most of them are fairly obvious while clues to the others are on the cassette inlay.
Completing 22 screens is a real job although once you have grasped the basic principles it is less a matter of discovery than of honing your skills to finish the challenge.
Jasper seemed to me more like a kangaroo than a mouse. Whatever he is doesn't make much difference to the quality of this game, which is pretty high.
It's also pretty difficult and I have to confess that I didn't get too far, despite the rather long time I played. As arcade-adventures go, it's not one of the biggest, but it's certainly one of the more entertaining.
At the moment, rodents appear to be taking over the Spectrum software market - Monty Mole, Danger Mouse, and now Jasper. In common with his two illustrious predecessors, he is graphically wonderful, a large, beautifully animated and eminently lovable rat-like creature.
Indeed, all the graphics are superlative; smooth, colourful and as detailed as you could wish for.
So what of the game, can it possibly be up to these high standards? Suffice to say that it's a complex mixture of arcade and adventure, requiring careful planning and some thought, easy to get into and fun to play but offering an enormously varied long-term challenge.
So, finally Micromega hove got on the graphic adventure bandwagon with that programming genius, Derek Brewster doing the honours. However, Jasper! will take you months to solve and I do mean months. It'll take a lot of time, a lot of concentration and a lot of skill before you complete this masterpiece. Well done Micromega, another classic.
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