Sam Stoat Safebreaker
by Peter M. Harrap
Gremlin Graphics Software Ltd
Crash Issue 15, April 1985   (1985-03-28)   page(s) 13,14

More alliterative arcade adventure from Gremlin. In this one you play Sam Stoat, a cunning cat-burglar (or stoat-burglar if you prefer).

The object is to enter one of the four houses on the start screen (house 1 easy, house 4 hard), then locate the bomb and the match to blow the safe, and escape. Escape is only possible if you have collected the diamond necklace carelessly left lying around on the floor. On finding the bomb it will follow you around. Points are awarded for picking up any other valuables you may come across.

Each house has a series of rooms interlinked with each other, but as usual there is a lot of nightlife in them, vicious gnomes, drunks, bouncing bed springs, spiders, bats and more. These tend to eat away his energy, indicated at the bottom of the screen by a 'Bloodometer', but it can be replenished by finding Stoat Healing Elixir.

Once the diamond has been collected, Sam can leave the house through the mousehole, which turns out to be a large lake with five pillars standing in it. The three middle ones rise and fall in a rhythm which makes leaping from one to the other rather difficult. Falling into the water is fatal of course. The game is played over 80 screens, twenty per house.

Control keys: Q/W left/right, P/L up/down (L is not mentioned on the inlay) B to SPACE to jump or enter a house
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair 2
Keyboard play: simple layout and responsive
Use of colour: good
Graphics: very good, some excellent animation and drawing
Sound: good start tune, lacking in spot effects
Skill levels: 4 selectable by house choice
Lives: it says 4 on the inlay, but this seems a little silly as you have one life and an energy (Bloodometer) level
Screens: 80

'Sam Stoat starts off after a heart-warming rendition of the 'Z Cars' TV theme. Remember that, no, good, because neither do I. The game is typical in layout to the recent Gremlin productions. I found the graphics okay but some of the moving characters, including Sam, were a little cumbersome. For some odd reason mouse holes were connected by separately rising pillars in a watery environment. As a game Sam Stoat was quite good, but the houses were not all that big (Barrat obviously). Gremlin, in my humble opinion, don't seem to have captured the appeal of their original Monty. But all in all Sam is a good game, pretty playable, but I have doubts as to its addictive qualities.'

'Gremlin Graphics seem to be pursuing this animal starring series. The character this time has turned to crime for his thrills and spills - if you always fancied yourself as a bit of a burglar then now's your chance. Safebreaker must be one of Gremlin 's most difficult games yet, not in the game itself but in the link screen (the mousehole connection) where you have to jump over rising and falling columns - good timing is a MUST - and it does become frustrating after a while when you cannot get over the river and continue with the game. I'd even go as far as to say that it would be much better to make this part of the game easier and make the rest of the game more difficult. There doesn't seem to be much content to this game unless live missed something, you don't really even have to avoid the characters inside the houses as they do nothing more than slow you down. One major attraction is the detailed graphics; tomato plants and flower pots are wonderfully drawn, as are all the playing characters, each being individually animated. Gremlin don 't seem to be producing games of as high a quality as Monty Mole - yes they've got the graphics right, but there's riffle game in it.'

'I'm not quite sure what the 'Bloodometer' is for in this game, unless there is some equation being made about Stoats and blood. Is Sam a vampire? Or is he a heroin addict? Sam, of course, is the character who rescued Monty in Monty is innocent, and now we know why he is familiar with the insides of a prison - he's obviously been nabbed before! The graphics here are far better than in the previous game, much cleaner looking and far more interesting, they are exceptionally well animated too. Sam Stoat is a more involving and difficult game than Monty is Innocent, but most of the difficulty seems to come from the mouse hole leaping bit rather than the main game, and this form of connection is vital to get to all the other rooms in the house. I get the feeling that what is happening now is that game need games designers as well as programmers - they are not necessarily the same thing at all. Good, well animated graphics and a simple sort of idea longer holds the lasting appeal necessary to a great game, and this seems to me to be true of Sam Stoat Safebreaker. The game looks good, but is not, I think, very addictive.'

Use of Computer63%
Getting Started63%
Addictive Qualities51%
Value for Money63%
Summary: General Rating: Above average to good.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Spectrum Issue 14, May 1985   page(s) 48

Ross: Sam Stoat, Gremlin Graphics' latest anti-hero is an evil little burglar. His beady eye is trained on four houses in a very select area and he's intent on purloining the jewels concealed within. The four houses are graded in difficulty and you can choose which one to start Sam off in. There are twenty rooms per house (see what I mean about a select area), one of which contains a safe, and each safe contains a diamond.

To get his mits on the diamond, Sam must blow up the safe with a bomb which he finds in each house. Then it's a ease of light the blue touch paper and retire rapidly. With the diamond and any other jewellery in his swag-bag, he can move on to case the next joint. At the bottom of the screen is an unusual timer (a bloodometer) which the aenemic Sam has to keep topped up by tippling at a bottle of Sam Stoat elixir. That's his excuse!

Sam's not alone on his blagging jaunt but has to contend with a variety of other creatures, most of them gnomes. Probably got bored with sitting round the pond with a fishing rod. The game's very colourful but the breaking and entering is needed to get the adrenalin running. 2/5 MISS

Dave: What a rip off. The sleeve says there are four houses but they're just the same room with different meanies, so it really amounts to four skill levels. 1/5 HIT

Roger: Respectable, upstanding members of the community would, no doubt, disapprove of this glamorisation of lightfingeredness. Spectrum tea leafs will love it. 3/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair Programs Issue 31, May 1985   page(s) 17

PRICE: £6.95

Gremlin Graphics' games. You either love them or you hate them. Nobody at Sinclair Programs loves them, but we may be unusual.

Sam Stoat Safe Breaker resembles Monty is Innocent in many ways and, if you liked one, you are likely to enjoy the other.

Sam Stoat is trying to break into a series of houses, to rob the owners of all their valuables. To do so, he must find the bomb in each house and take it to the safe, find the match in each house and take it to the safe, break into the safe, steal the diamond which it contains and then escape.

Each of the screens is littered with the bizarre wandering enemies in which Gremlin specialises. Contact with any of these enemies will sap your energy.

The graphics for each screen are well drawn. In one room Sam must creep past the owner of the house or, at least, past his big toe, which is sticking out of the bath. Movement between series of rooms is done through mouseholes.

As usual, though, it is the flickering graphics which make this game an eye-straining problem to play. As the enemies move around, the background behind them takes on their colours. With six characters zooming around a room at once, you have to have good eye sight, a well-adjusted TV set, and a strong stomach to be able to watch the game.

Sam Stoat is produced for the 48K Spectrum by Gremlin Graphics, 10 Carver Street, Sheffield.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Computer Issue May 1985   page(s) 39

Spectrum 48K
Arcade adventure
Gremlin Graphics
£6 95

The latest character to emerge from the warren of the Gremlin Gang, Sam Stoat would appear to be as guilty as Monty was innocent. Intent on stealing a very valuable diamond he braves bouncing bedsprings, runaway pool balls, nasty green bottles, pogo gnomes and deadly gnomemobiles in his quest.

Rather like Statesoft's Icicle Works, you get four main scenarios to choose from. Sam prowls about in the dark below four houses ranging from easy to hard. Press the fire button and pop goes the stoat - you're in the house of your choice.

The basic scheme of the game is to locate the explosive bomb and match - then you can blow the safe. Having grabbed the diamond and whatever other jewellery may be lying around in the house, you can then move on. Each house contains 20 screens including the vital bottle of stoat elixir that boosts Sam's blood level - shown graphically in the form of a syringe at the bottom left hand side of the screen. At the top is shown high-score and how much money you personally have gained ill-gottenly.

The maximum score attainable is, we are assured, £64,384. This is not a game that I personally would go wild over. When all's said and done, it has to be remembered that the four houses with 20 screens are just the same house with different levels of difficulty. Some nice graphical possibilities are hinted at, but Gremlin have a little way to go yet if they want to mutate into something bigger and meaner. Keep trying though, lads.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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