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Bobby Bearing

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Released: 1986

Genre: Puzzle

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: The Edge

Developer: Robert Figgins / Trevor Figgins

Submitted by: Gavin Eke

 If you were a Marble Madness fan & owned an 8-bit computer then the 1980's were a happy period indeed. Not only was there the original arcade conversion but also many spin offs, the most high profiled being Paul Shirley's Spindizzy.

However, released shortly after Spindizzy came another Marble Madness inspired title called Bobby Bearing. The premise is that Bobby has to locate his five siblings who have gone missing in the Metaplanes and lead them back home after being led astray by their nefarious cousin. The Metaplanes is a hostile environment, due in no small part to the evil mutant bearings which reside there. These nasty snarling black bearings are ruthless in protecting their territory & would attack any stray interloper.  So Bobby leave's home & navigates his way around the Metaplanes hoping to locate his family members.

Bobby Bearing is presented in the classic isometric format. The game environment is made up of twisting & turning walkways with multi level elements. Unfortunately, unlike R Kelly, Bobby couldn't believe he could fly, therefore, relied on lifts & air vents to reach seemingly inaccessible pathways. Blocks of masonry are littered within the Metaplanes, often rising up & down, flattening any careless bearing caught underneath them. Time is of the essence & although Bobby can't be killed outright, he can be dazed leading to a reduction in the clock which begins ticking at 999. If the timer gets to zero without all family members  being accounted for, then it's game over.

Personally, I preferred this title over Spindizzy. The graphics are sharp & full of character, lending an almost Nintendo feel to them. This is particularly apparent if Bobby gets dizzied because of a crushing piece of masonry or after being mauled by a mutant bearing.  Gameplay is fast & your bearing can zip between screens at quite a lick of pace. Trying to reach upper levels can be difficult though, particularly where air vents are concerned. Timing your roll to pass over an air vent when there's a sudden gust is not an exact science. Also, Bobby seemingly cannot take any falls, literally becoming dizzy even when lifted very slightly off the ground.

Despite these couple of niggles, it's difficult to find much at fault with Bobby Bearing. It's a very professional piece of software & maintained The Edge's reputation as a premier developer/publisher.

A DS update would be a welcome addition……