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Copyright 1986 Electric Dreams


As we all know, working for the corporation is a hard life indeed and the mission you're to be sent on this time is far from the usual run of the mill stuff. The back room boys have discovered a new dimension that contains a world hung in space. Of course they want it mapped and as Trainee Assistant Cartographer for Unknown Worlds, the job's been passed onto you. The company's motivations are far from noble and it's all government sponsored work -- time is money. The more time you spend out there the more money the company can claim.

Unfortunately, the energy powering the scout craft isn't covered by the government grant, so the amount of energy you are supplied with is very meagre indeed. Not to worry though, they say that in a few of the more recently discovered dimensions there's plenty of energy to be collected. It would be wise to take advantage of such power sources, as it looks good when you're going for promotion.

The craft you are given is none too impressive, it's one of those old fashioned centrifugal drive inverted pyramids and happens to be called GERALD (Gyroscopic, Environmental Reconnaissance And Land-Mapping Device). So there you have it, do a good job and the rewards will be far from sparse. Otherwise ... Well, you don't want to be Trainee Assistant Cartographer all your life, do you?

As the astute reader may well have surmised by now, Spindizzy places you on an unknown world just aching to be mapped. Not an easy task considering there are 429 different sections to be explored and recorded. GERALD is an intelligent beast, equipped with the latest in scenery interpretation software. You view the outside world through a scanner and the immediate area is represented as a forced 3D perspective view. There's a bit of an anomaly here in that you can actually see your own craft even though you are sat inside it. Still, with practise it is quite easy to adjust to this strange point of view. However, if the viewpoint occasionally proves awkward, for example, when GERALD is behind a pillar and is proving troublesome to control, then the angle of view can be altered with a mere keypress. (function keys to be precise)

Your scanner tends to simplify the outside world quite a bit and it all looks very angular. The computer enhances all backgrounds with a grid pattern overlay to help the viewer recognise the 3D shapes on a 2D screen. At first glance the view seems quite familiar, bearing a resemblance to the arcade game Marble Madness.

One of GERALD's major design faults is his inability to cope with some of the steep slopes. This is due to his inferior drive unit, but a good run up can usually accumulate the speed and momentum required to negotiate some of the hills. The joystick is used to move GERALD in any of the eight available directions and the fire button gives an extra burst of energy and speed when pressed. The main problem with control though, is the constant battle against force and momentum. (pressing the space bar immediately stops GERALD, but it consumes some energy)

Since the new world is hung in the infinity of space, falling off it is not sensible. However, this is not as terminal as it may seem. GERALD can beam himself back to the last location visited, but to do this he needs to tap into his power supply and this results in a loss of energy. If GERALD goes off a particularly steep incline too fast, he is thrown high into the air and he lands with a bump hefty enough to split him into four component parts. Tapping into his energy reserves he's able to reassemble once more, but the energy counter is depleted accordingly. Life isn't all bad though, as there are more than a few locations containing strange pulsating power crystals which replenish your energy when collected. Another counter keeps track of the jewels picked up and it is quite an accurate indication of your progress, since the planet can only be successfully mapped if all the energy jewels are collected.

The alien world contains evidence of previous inhabitants of a very advanced level. Though they no longer reside here, their buildings and constructions still exist. Even though they are very ancient, quite a few of the mechanisms still operate. In fact using the lift system is essential if you are to achieve any sort of worthwhile progress.

The lift platforms come in a variety of shapes and sizes and most of them are prettily patterned. Painted on the floors of several locations are representations of the lift platforms. When entering the world all lifts are passive, but moving over a lift icon activates the respective platform. The trouble is that only two types of lift can be activated at any one time and it is for this reason that the patterns of any activated platforms are displayed on the bottom left hand side of your scanner.

Of course, the idea of the game is to map the planet, so your scanner also carries information showing how many rooms are left to be mapped. If this isn't enough, a mere touch of the M key draws up a map of the planet and any locations visited are duly highlighted. Pressing any other key returns you to the game. Your exploration exploits come to an end when your energy runs out. The bitter fruits of defeat do have their sweet spots though, and in Spindizzy it's a detailed debriefing of your progress from GERALD. Still, you can always try again -- no-one wants to stay Junior Assistant Cartographer forever! Do they?

From Zzap! 64 - 1986

My Opinion

This is definitely a game of skill and discovery. You will at least need your 10 fingers to make that gyroscope go where you want it to go. But once you have mastered the control method, there are hundreds of screens to discover out there, designed as strange, colorful and puzzling landscapes. Very compelling, although the sound is very weak (but not annoying).

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