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Written by  :  Ashley Pomeroy (233)
Written on  :  Nov 25, 2005
Platform  :  ZX Spectrum
Rating  :  2.33 Stars2.33 Stars2.33 Stars2.33 Stars2.33 Stars

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Ata ata hoglo hulu!

The Good

After having a big success with "Captain Blood", the self-consciously eccentric French programmers Exxos came up with Purple Saturn Day, a futuristic sports game. It had four events, and you played against a computer opponent.

Unfortunately, only one of the events was worthwhile, although limited by having just one playfield. The "Brain Bowler", it was called, and it was tricky to get the hang of but nailbiting once you did. It involved fiddling about with electronic gates whilst your opponent fiddled about with some other electronic gates, and you had to make some circuits light up by directing sparks into them, with these gates, and your opponent was doing the same, and he was fiddling about with your gates. Yes.

It was a roughly similar concept to all those games where you have to build a pipeline or a rail track, although with the addition of a real-time opponent. So exciting was this section that the same people (going under the name Cryo) released it as a game in its own right, "Extase", which came out in 1990 for the Amiga and perhaps ST as well.

At the end of the game, if you did well - and in the ZX Spectrum version at least it was hard to lose - your reward was a kiss from a lady, thus perpetuating all kinds of stereotypes about the French mindset (the game's developers were French).

The three-channel AY music was piercing and squeally but actually quite good, sounding genuinely slightly alien and odd, with a nice bouncy beat.

The Bad

The other three events were disposable. The race around the rings was fast and looked good, but wasn't much of a challenge, and it was very derivative, being essentially the same as the ancient ZX Spectrum classic "Horace Goes Skiing", or any game where you have to fly through pairs of flags.

The 'Tronic Slider' was very similar to Lucasfilm Games' old "Ballblazer", with a dash of the arcade game "Sinistar", and I can't think of anything to say about it, so I shall just ignore it. The final section, in which you had to zap energy bolts in order to jump through hyperspace, was a simple shooting gallery and wasn't even a proper event, really. It was a little bonus thing tacked onto the end of the game.

The Bottom Line

It seems that Exxos tried to pull the same trick twice, and failed. As with Captain Blood, the previous Exxos title, Purple Saturn Day was nice to look at and had good music and sound, but was basically a set of derivative little mini-games brought together in search of some putty with which to bind them into a unified whole.

And whereas Captain Blood masked its simplicity by giving you the illusion of exploring a giant universe, Purple Saturn Day's "Hypersports"-esque conception just highlighted the fact that you were playing four dull unrelated mini-games one after the other, albeit that one of the games was fun for a few plays.

And so after a while the people behind this game had a big think and then went off and did "Dune", and thus was history made.