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Review: Tops the pig compilation
I haven't been here in ages, and what better way to make a comeback than with a traditionally lengthy review.
A word about the ZIP first - three GIFs were included with the three game files, which seems unnecessary to me. Still, they don't increase the file size much at all (a matter of only about 20kb unzipped) so what am I complaining about?
On to the games themselves. Three 'versions' are included in the ZIP file. They are the original Tops, Tops 2 and Tops 2 plus extra levels. I'll review them in the traditional chronological (what a word) order.
The first game started up in full-screen, which as people who have read my earlier reviews will know, I have a problem with (or rather it's my computer that has the problem). It would have been nice to provide an option, or to start in windowed mode by default. It seems to be only me that has this problem, though.
The title screen was very well-drawn, although the options text could have been improved on (it just uses the System font). The resemblance to Sonic 2 struck me immediately, as I'd only been playing it a couple of minutes before. I selected "3" on the menu, read the brief controls screen, and pressed Space to get out.
I then tried every key on the keyboard in turn, hoping one of them would get me back to the title screen or menu screen. Eventually I tried ESC (seems so obvious now), which worked. Feeling slightly embarrassed at having written a paragraph complaining about the lack of a key to get back and then having to delete it when it was such an obvious key as ESC, I decided just to get on with the game. That's what you're reading this for, after all.
The graphics that I met with were for the most part very well done, but it has to be said the counter in the middle top of the screen looks terrible - it's just a default red number counter. Making my way down the level (decently programmed moving platform, by the way) I struggled with the movement a little. The deceleration doesn't feel very good, it's like you're skating around on ice most of the time. After a while you get used to it, though it's still difficult on small or moving platforms.
I noticed that Tops has no shooting animation - the boxing gloves just sail out of his stomach. The enemies don't animate when they die, either - they just vanish. Sounds like a very small point, but the rest of the graphics are excellent, so why not these?
The shooting mechanics weren't that good to be honest - the direction you're facing (jumping or falling) is taken to be the direction to shoot in, rather than directly left or right depending on the animation direction as you might expect. This can become annoying when you have to shoot out certain platforms.
It wasn't obvious at all what to do at the start of the second level - I was on the point of giving up when it happened. I'd even tried wall-jumping to get up to the top of the level, but the author had thought of that. Good for him.
The Mario-styling became more evident on the third level, with the familiar ! blocks making an appearance. The difficulty became a little extreme here, with a near-impossible moving platform section near the end of the level, which took me about forty tries to get past (you think I'm joking?!) Admittedly, some of those were mistakes made when rushing through the level to get back to that point.
The fourth level was the complementary platform game "water" level. This was frustrating as well, but more balanced than the previous level - the obstacles were evenly spaced rather than just one supremely hard part at the end. There was a leap of faith, though - well, not exactly a leap, but a part of the level in which you couldn't see what you were going to land on. Spikes.
In the fifth level there was an event which surprised me (though I think it's been done in Sonic). It was here that I had to go and have my lunch, not realising how much time I'd spent playing this.
Just after returning, I passed the fifth level and started on the sixth, which was a refreshing change of scenery although the background seemed a little repetitive. On dying on this level, I was transported back to the second part of the first level, which compelled me to turn it off instantly, I'm afraid.
On to the second game, and another Sonic-ish title screen. Very well done again.
I was disappointed to see the return of the "slidey" platform movement, but the shooting had been improved as I'd suggested above. There's also more detailed sound than before, and the enemies have dying animations.
There was a strange bug in the "Red balls" level - after I died the first time, the level changed and I sometimes died for no apparent reason. I've seen this happen before in Click games - it's as if the background and the actual level are completely different.
Leaving that aside, I went for the last game in the collection: "Tops 2 Plus the extra levels". As the name implies, it's a set of extra levels based on Tops 2. They aren't as good as the ones in "normal" Tops 2, though.
Altogether, this is definitely worth downloading - the games combined are immense, and would be excellent if it wasn't for the presence of a few annoying bugs and control difficulties.
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David Newton (DavidN)