Toy Bizarre
by James Software Ltd
Activision Inc
Crash Issue 15, April 1985   (1985-03-28)   page(s) 24

Included in the useful inlay of Toy Bizarre is this playing tip from the author himself:

'Listen, it's important to remember that you can control Merton while he's in the air. Also, the screen wraps around, that is, move off the left side and you'll appear on the right.' Activision obviously aren't giving anything away except a lecture on what wrap around means!

In this game you are cast as Merton the toy factory maintenance man who is unfortunate to be on the night shift when the factory goes berserk. Your task is to restore order, or die in the attempt, at the very least you will realise what it is to be understaffed.

Essentially Toy Bizarre is a straight forward platform game with four levels. On each of three of the levels there are two valves which periodically pump out a squidgy purple object, later identified as a balloon. If Merton can be encouraged to burst the balloons he will score points, however, should any of the balloons escape they will release a toy, a flying pink submarine, to be exact. Contact with the toys is unhealthy so the more balloons you can destroy the easier your progress will be. Bonus points will be awarded if you turn the valves off thus stemming the flow of balloons, not too much too ask is it? All you have to do is walk past them and off they go. Well life never is that simple and in this case the complication is in the form of an animated bodice called Hefty Hilda.

Hilda spends most of her time chasing you round the screen trying to do you in, as well as turning all of the valves back on. If you are to succeed then you will have to survive to the end of your shift.

Should you survive the first screen you will be presented with another, but it will be harder than the last because the platforms will be arranged so as to make jumping from one to the other that little bit more difficult and of course there will be more balloons. There are a few nice touches to the game which should help to keep you interested. As the toys move to the factory floor, to become balloons again, they will try their best to kill you, your only defence is to hope that one of the toys will land on one of the paired pistons located on each of the platforms, when it does you will be able to stun it simply by jumping up and down on the other piston, I admit it's not a great deal to look forward too but you could give Hilda a nasty shock.

Control keys: O/P left/right, Z to jump
Joystick: Sinclair 2, Kempston, Cursor type
Keyboard play: very responsive
Use of colour: above average
Graphics: some disagreement, but they seem smooth enough
Sound: good, with a nice tune
Skill levels: 1 with rapid progressive difficulty
Lives: 5
Screens: unknown, but several

'After playing Toy Bizarre I had to check if the name Activision on the cassette was the real one. I found this game rather unaddictive with jerky graphics and the central character was difficult to handle. He got killed many times, the pause after damage was unbearably long winded with him jumping off the screen. Unfortunately the game left me with that 'Pedro' and 'Cosmic Cruiser' feel. I hope Activision haven 't lost their way as this is certainly not the way forward. I did not actually enjoy Toy Bizarre, but I'm sure there will be those whose opinions differ. Pretty average-ish.'

' This is one of those games you play without thinking as it needs no skill nor brains to play, just jump on the balloons and collect tea cups and extra lives. Its graphics and sound aren't that bad, but they're nothing to write home about. I like the way your man once hit by a toy or squashed by Hilda, walks off looking very flat'

'Toy Bizarre is an unusual mixture of platform game and catching game. What is unusual is that objects (balloons) that you have to collect are mobile and after a while turn into a destructive toy. The game idea is very, very simple and even a youngster could pick it up quite quickly, which could be a good selling point. I find this game very playable and it does get progressively fast moving, as the hours tick on. I like some of the features such as 'Tea Time' when you are allowed to get points for every object, including toys, you catch, and also the way you get an extra life - you have to grab it when it appears somewhere on the screen. Graphics are neat, smooth and well detailed. Overall I think the younger games player will love this game although as an older one I found this game fun to play as well.'

Use of Computer70%
Getting Started73%
Addictive Qualities62%
Value for Money48%
Summary: General Rating: Again, mixed feelings, ranging from average to good, but at £8, very expensive.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 88, April 1993   page(s) 16,17

D'you know, you can now take a course in the history of the Speccy at college. (Ask your tutor about it.) One of the subjects of the course is covers through the ages and this, erm, covers such pieces as the anatomically astonishing Legend of the Amazon Women and the endearingly dreadful Wally Week paintings.

Highlight of the lecture is undoubtedly Toy Bizarre. The best ever Speccy cover, this depicts a wrapped present, with a sinister doll's hand bursting out to undo the bow. Even Andy O was moved to say, "It's quite clever and subtle. I like it."

The scary theme carries carries on with the storyline. You're Merton the maintenance man, and you've been trapped in the toy factory at night. While a bunch of killer toys waddle about dangerously, you have to turn off various valves to stop more being made. There's an indestructible doll called Hefty Hilda clattering around as well. All in all, it's a bit of a nightmare. Spook city, Arizona, in fact.

What a terrible, terrible shame then that the game is a bland platform number. Forgiving the 1984 presentation (actually, the animated lopes of the main characters are really funny) the gameplay just doesn't stand up to close scrutiny Look. (Sounds of someone closely scrutinising Toy Bizarre. Sounds of Toy Bizarre falling over.) There, told you. There's tonnes of racing around with no particular place to go and rather too much retracing your steps as Hilda opens all the valves you've just shut off. There's also the most amazing bug - when you get killed, your ghost pads off screen, then your new bod jogs back on. If there's a baddy there, you get plonked right on top of it and get killed again. Good grief.

I enjoyed Toy Bizarre for the first five minutes, but then Andy dropped his pen and my concentration was immediately shattered.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Spectrum Issue 14, May 1985   page(s) 46

Roger: Lightning fast arcade action occurs as you feebly attempt to keep up Merton the Maintenance Man's work rate in this simplistic game of platform pretension. Our Mert's night shift is supposed to be in a toy factory where valves blow up balloons which, in their turn, convert into terminal toys if not avoided and/or dealt with. Just to complicate matters a little, an unpleasant character called Hefty Hilda wanders about, turning back on the valves Merton has turned off and thoroughly nobbling the poor devil in the event of, er, body contact. Piston platforms can also deliver unpleasant surprises to both hero and villainess. The single screen 'wraps round' so exiting our hero from one side. Within its relatively limited content, Toy Bizarre hangs on as reasonable entertainment value for those with quick reactions but it's difficult to avoid thinking that this is one format that has almost been caned to death. 2/5 HIT

Dave: This game is in need of some maintenance - the controls are sluggish and the collision detection leaves a lot to be desired. Unfortunately, Merton the Maintenance Man isn't up to the task. 2/5 MISS

Ross: This is a fairly simple platform game with nice graphics and some novel ideas, but not much else. I liked the balloons but was bored by the rest. 2/5 MISS

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 38, May 1985   page(s) 21

IF YOU have always stayed away from balloons because they make a loud bang when they pop then Toy Bizarre from Activision will give you a chance to get your own back.

Leap around the levels of the toy factory using Merton, your puppet guide, to pop the balloons which are blown up from six huge valves. But beware! Break the balloons before they pop or they will deposit malign mechanical toys to snare you into losing one of your four lives.

An indicator at the top of the screen shows how many balloons you need to pop before moving to the next screen difficulty level. The initial levels are easy, and can be made easier if you have some understanding of hot air.

Not only do you have to contend with balloons but a manic robot, which goes by the name of Hefty Hilda, makes life hell by sliding along the platforms, intent on crushing you and turning on all the balloon valves.

A jump is in order if you want to avoid a battering by Activision's answer to Nora Batty.

All is not doom and gloom, howev- er, as the toys can be stunned if you jump on one of the two pistons on each level while the toys are on the other. Hilda can be sprung off the screen using the same technique but she can do the same to you.

Toy Bizarre is addictive and will attract those who find Jet Set Willy too difficult to master. It should also prove appealing to young children, not only because of the toy factory concept but also because there are few operation keys and the plot is simple.

The only danger is that they will be put off by the repetitive nature of the game.

John Gilbert

Price £7.99
Memory 48K
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair


Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair Programs Issue 30, April 1985   page(s) 16

PRICE: £7.99

In the role of Merton the maintenance man, you have been allocated the job, in Toy Bizarre, of facing a night in the Gizmoe Automated Toy factory. Naturally, your period on duty coincides with the time at which the toys decide to revolt. To survive the night you must burst the toy dispersing balloons, destroy the toys and avoid Hilda the clockwork doll.

The game is set on a series of platforms set on different levels, and it is possible to jump from one to another. Remaining on the lowest levels leads to a quick death, while climbing to the higher levels as quickly as possible makes the game straightforward to play.

The game is based on an amusing idea, even though it is rather simple to play. Inattention to detail on the part of the programmer makes it a less attractive game than it could easily have been.

Fun, but not very professionally presented, Toy Bizarre is produced by Activision, 15 Harley House, Marlebone Road, Regent Park, London.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Computer Issue April 1985   page(s) 49

Spectrum 48K

A follow up to their smash hit Ghostbusters this game treads once more the well worn path of the platform game. Is the market for these things completely insatiable? What we have is a series of screens, one much like the next. You have the mindless task of bursting balloons before they reach the ceiling and turn into the eponymous bizarre (and hence deadly?) toys. There are a few other bits and pieces, like platforms, valves and a homicidal maniac called Hilda, but what we have is essentially the same old stuff.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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