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Son of Blagger

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Released: 1984

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: Aligata Software

Developer: Elliot Gay

Submitted by: Lee Tatlock

Son of Blagger has often been lauded as being an absolute classic of the genre so much so that one would think that it was built by the gods themselves not good old, and clearly mortal, Elliot Gay. So bringing things back down to earth a little I’m going to try and be as realistic as possible, right, let’s kick this pig!

Now, let’s break this thing down a little: Firstly we’ve obviously got ourselves a platformer and in the true plaforming style of the time we’ve got a bunch of keys dotted around various enemy strewn environments. Next up is the ever-present air supply that slowly counts down to your expiration. So the game and its aim is a simple one: collect keys through 12 levels of timed jumping and dodging. Now with many other fine examples of the genre knocking about you may ask yourself what’s the big deal about yet another A-typical example if the genus? Well it’s all about design, my freind.

As you manoeuvre from screen to screen your viewpoint scrolls along nicely giving you a good sense of the immensity of your quest, especially when compared to the relatively claustrophobic environs of its brethren. Also as you mooch about, at a relatively subdued pace, you get a real sense of the awesome level design that you’ll be tackling, it is hugely apparent that a lot of care has been lavished on tweaking the levels for maximum challenge and fluidity. The graphics are bold, bright and chunky and although the enemies are a bit nondescript they’ll be blocking your path with panache rather than the randomly placed annoyance that many lesser titles seem launch their enemies around with like so much cack in a monkey cage.

Other than praise I don’t have much else to throw at Son of Blagger and would recommend it to any hardcore platform gamer to see just how hardcore they really are, but as mentioned above it never gets annoying or tedious as you truly are in the presence of minimalistic, design, genius – enjoy your stay.

Son of Blagger

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Released: 1983

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: Commodore 64

Publisher: Aligata Software

Developer: Alligata

Submitted by: Darran Jones

There’s something bittersweet about a son outshining his father. Old man Blagger was a decent enough chap. Tough as old boots and rather too enamoured of his mate Miner Willy to really stand out from the crowd, but a good laugh nonetheless. His lad though, now he had ambition…

Son Of Blagger shared plenty of the family traits. Keys to collect, quirky enemies to avoid, patterns to learn, the pixel-perfect jumps, the unforgiving collision detection, the frequent deaths, forced repetition and the resulting chewing of fists. Yet where the dad was clearly in thrall to Manic Miner (the 30 screens of the original include mutant telephones, sky labs and conclude with ‘The Final Conflict’ if you needed any more clues), his offspring wanted to show you a whole new world.

Well, a glimpse of it at least. You peer at the game world through a letterbox, which scrolls to follow the lolloping young thief as he attempts to snatch the requisite number of keys and find the exit for each of the dozen distinct areas. Wondering just how far this bizarre construction of wonky walls, giant chutes and disappearing platforms stretched was tantalising, as was being able to sneak a peek at what was in store beyond that pesky row of deadly bushes. First stumbling upon the huge, blinking Alligata logo on Level 4 and trying to traverse it through numerous leaps of faith was especially memorable. In the days before in-game advertising was prevalent, it just seemed so cocky. Nice touch, Mr Crowther.

Looking at the game map pieced together courtesy of that most talented of retro cartographers Nigel Fishwick (visit www.btinternet.com/~fishyfish to admire more of his work) feels strange. I trace the route through each level with my finger, admiring the tessellation of the architecture now I can see the big picture. It makes me think of that time as a child when I could only see the little space where I played. And that’s kind of bittersweet, too.