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Punchy

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Released: 1984

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: Commodore 16/Plus4

Publisher: Commodore

Developer: Mr Micro / Evan Parton

Submitted by: Clarance Frank

Punchy was included with the Commodore 16 Starter Pack, and so will have been one of the first games played by UK C16 owners. Happily it was also rather good.

After an inordinate amount of loading time the title screen appears: Whack the space bar and Punchy starts to play. This is a Hunchback clone, but in actual fact it’s much nicer and friendlier to play than that harsh old arcade cab.

You take control of Bobby the Policeman in a nightmarish Punch & Judy landscape. As the clouds roll ominously overhead, your goal is to traverse fifteen screens to reach the Punch and Judy booth, where Judy has been locked-in by that famously nasty wife-beater, Mr. Punch. Of course, bad-ol’Punch has placed various obstacles in Bobby’s way – there are pits to be jumped over with pixel-perfect precision, flying tomatoes and custard pies, magic carpets to be ridden and of course Mr. Punch himself, who is more than ready to stick his weapon right up you!

The graphics are great, with Bobby’s sprite being one of the cutest and well animated ever to appear on the C16. The sound is, well, functional – although there is a nice little tune played as a reward for reaching the end of each screen. The controls are simple and respond smoothly and the learning curve is set at just the right gradient. Of course the further into the game you are the trickier it gets, and the thing is very unforgiving at times, particularly when jumps need to be timed precisely to avoid the flying detritus, and at exactly the correct spot on the screen. Oh and there’s a time limit to complete each screen as well… but the game is very playable nevertheless, and with a bit of practice can eventually be completed, as I seem to remember.

In fact Punchy is quite possibly the first game I ever finished, although Bobby can never rest – just as he succeeds in rescuing Judy, mean old Mr. Punch comes along and swipes her away again, and the game loops back to the start. Oh well.