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Hydrofool

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Released: 1987

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: Faster Than Light (Gargoyle Games)

Developer: Greg Follis / Roy Carter

Submitted by: Gavin Eke

 By the time Hydrofool was released, 8-bit gamers had seen more of their fare share of isometric action. Knight Lore kicked off the genre but a host of titles soon followed.

Hydrofool itself, is the sequel to Sweevo's World, another isometric game by Gargoyle Games. This time, however, our hero has been tasked with draining out the Deathbowl, a polluted underwater environment. This can be achieved by locating four plugs & pulling them, draining each section in the correct order. However, the fishy residents like living in this polluted environment do not want Sweevo to drain it away.

Therefore, your character has the unenviable task of completing his mission whilst being attacked by shoals of piranhas, whales, sea horses & other aquatic life. Fortunately, there are weapons dotted within the underwater caverns that will combat this threat. However, certain weapons will only kill particular creatures, therefore, it is up to the player to work out what works best against each enemy.

To make things even harder, your diving suit becomes rusty pretty quickly, so you'll need to find oil cans left in the polluted water which will keep you going a little longer. Other objects found within the briny deep are required to complete various puzzles which Sweevo faces. Of course these puzzles aren't easy!  

I wasn't expecting much from this title but maybe that's why I found myself pleasantly surprised. It's another isometric game but one set in an environment which is very different from the medieval/futuristic/western settings of previous titles. The underwater environment is pleasantly detailed & with nice touches such as air bubbles which take Sweevo to higher levels (very reminiscent of Underwurlde). Whirlpools take your character down as well. The sea life is well drawn with bags of detail. Plus, Sweevo really does feel as if he is swimming through underwater caverns rather than just plodding along.  

Hydrofool may not be revered like Head Over Heals or Knight Lore, but it's still another high quality game from the Gargoyle team.