C64 Review of Frak! from Issue 1


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Screenshot

This was originally a British game for a British computer (the BBC), but has now been assigned to a company dealing in American games, for distribution in the UK on an American machine! If you can puzzle that one out, you shouldn't have too many problems with the game itself. Quite simply, a platform game, but with a humourous cartoon feel to it.

Armed only with his trusty yo-yo, Trogg the caveman must be guided around 96 levels of awkward, scrolling platform action. Every time he dies, a speech bubble containing the expletive FRAK! is displayed.

Each level in Frak! is fairly large larger than one screen in fact, so it's for this reason the picture has to scroll. The screens are composed of groups of platforms and 'ladders' that only differ on arrangement and graphics on advancing a level. For example, the first screen has actual ladders, these then change to ropes on the second screen, and chains on the third.

In order to complete a level, Trogg must collect all the keys lying around within a given time limit. Once the limit expires it becomes dark, and the yo-yo becomes ineffective. To put some more light on the subject, and to gain extra time and points, there is a lightbulb that can be picked up. Other bonus points can be acquired from the jewels scattered about. These aren't necessary for completing the level, though.

On each level there is a different group of nasties to impede your progress. Scrubblies, Hooters, Poglets, Bunyips, Ice Warriors and Trogg Clones must face the wrath of the yo-yo. There are also balloons that rise from below and daggers raining from the heavens to be avoided or disposed of.

The yo-yo is activated by pointing Trogg in the right direction and pressing the fire button. The longer the button is held down, the further the yo-yo goes, until it reaches a maximum of a screen width before returning.

You are given three lives to get as far as possible, and if you attain a good enough score, you enter your name in a high score table. The highest score achieved is given an unusual high score verification code, in the form of a short scrolling message at the bottom left of the screen. 'Hairy gonks hit crazy beetles slowly' No, I'm drunk, that's an example of a high score code.

Trogg is a graphic delight. Standing a quarter of the height of the screen, he certainly looks impressive. His animation is nothing special, but his definition is a large, unexpanded group of multicolour sprites that are very well implemented.

Nasties, such as the Hooter, are also superbly defined, and although inanimate, they have a distinct character about them.

Sound effects are few and far between. A couple of scratchy noises as Trogg walks, a ting when he gets an object, and what sounds like him breaking wind when he extends his yo-yo. An annoying music track is provided for the masochists among you, but at least it can be turned off phew!

Options exist for up to nine players to compete against each other at once, and a demo mode comes as selectable rather than imposed upon. GP.

ON THE LEVELS

There are only six truly different levels in Frak! that is, levels with different platform layouts (only three on the BBC version). However, you go through these in 16 different ways, giving the total of 96 levels as claimed on the cassette cover. Indeed, Statesoft tell us that in fact there are 256 different levels, but '96 was enough to put on the package'.

The later levels introduce shorter time limits and monsters which are NOT permanently dislodged by the yo-yo. Other strange things happen. For example, the third time round the six levels all the platforms play upside down unless you're prepared to stand a mirror next to the TV screen and play from that, it takes considerable readjustment.

There are also two competitions linked to the game: a high score competition (61,000 is the highest at time of writing) and a race to find the secret word linked to each screen. There have been no entries at all yet on this one, possibly because no one has noticed that the words are to do with the shape of the platforms. . . .

At Zzap's request, Statesoft have agreed to extend the competition closing dates to June 1st.


The text of this review was taken with Dimitris Kiminas' permission from the Gamebase64 site, where a fully htmlized version of it exists.


This review was typed in/OCRed by Dimitris


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In the spirit of ZzapBack, you can have your say about how the game reviewed above, stands up in the cold light of today. Has it aged badly or is it still worth a few plays? Read other peoples thoughts and post your own.

The current ZzapBack rating is : 77%

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Ian - 27 Jun 2007
Loved Frak as a kid, especially the chunky, hi res graphics (weren't sprites on the BBC, since the BBC didn't support sprites).
Seem to remember someone telling me back in the day that the BBC version of Frak was actually written in machine code, which is mighty impressive!

Rating : 85%
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spudgunjake - 16 Mar 2006
Nearly finished the PC Version, with some extra levels, Also working on the more up todate version comming soon.
Frak always reminded me of a friend, looks like him, game it self is alright, looked at the code, looks like it was wrinten in basic then complied

Rating : 60%
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martin world - 10 Apr 2005
loved the music 2 i sing it from time to time hence how i stumbled across this at 11.30 on sunday night played game at school 20 years ago - i found it really tricky after 3 levels but loved the game - graphics werent that bad back then on the bbc

Rating : 85%
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f0zz - 20 Apr 2004
I loved the music in this game! Though I've never played it since about 1981, I still hear it in my head, and thats a catchy 25 year hook! I loved the game too, even though it was a bit repetitive. The cartoony look and feel was quite different and added to the overall originality of what is, essentially, a standard platformer.

Rating : 79%
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Gary Penn
There have been a lot of platform games around since the originator, Miner 2049'er first hit the streets. Most have been very good, and this is no exception. Its main difference is that only a few platforms are shown at any one time. This makes it difficult, but still very enjoyable.
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Julian Rignall
This stoneage platform variant provides plenty of challenge as you trogg about some very difficult and varied screens. The music is tedious after a while and it's best to play without it. I liked the graphics, but control was rather fiddly, one wrong move and . . . FRAK!
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Bob Wade
The best part is the large character Trogg, who sloths and hops around the screen in marvellous fashion. The animation and brightly coloured graphics look great, as do all the characters. Occasionally it is a little difficult to pick up keys and objects but the program usually allows for some inaccuracy in jumping. Also it isn't always obvious where to go because so little of the platform network is shown on screen.
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Ratings
PRESENTATION 64%
Instructions unhelpful, but plenty of playing options.

ORIGINALITY 62%
A platform game, but big characters, yo-yos and off-screen action.

GRAPHICS 74%
Big, beautiful characters, but little animation.

HOOKABILITY 72%
It's funny, slick, appealing -- but frustrating!

SOUND 41%
Rotten tune and the sound effects are sparse.

LASTABILITY 70%
It'll take ages to get through all 6 screens, even once.

VALUE FOR MONEY 71%
An excellent British release from Statesoft.
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