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The Snowman

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Released: 1984

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: Quicksilva

Developer: David Shea

Submitted by: Ian Marks

‘We’re walking in the air.’… that’s how the song goes. Well if you bought this game in the 80’s you’d have been more likely to be walking back to the shop to complain.

I thought I’d add this game purely because it’s snowing outside today, not because it’s a good game. It’s not a good game. It is in fact a very poor game.

You have to guide your little boy (stick man) around a series of ladders, avoiding small flames and sleep monsters. The object is to collect snow and other paraphernalia from which to build a snowman. Now I’ve seen the film The Snowman (good grief it’s on every Christmas), and I’ve even read the book. I don’t remember there being many flame monsters and ladders in either of them. Maybe I fell asleep during that bit.

Once you’ve built your snowman, you then have to give him a scarf and a hat, and then a face. All the while a ‘Sleep Monster’ (read strangely defined graphic) is trying to wake you up. If it does then you don’t die (imagine if they killed the boy from The Snowman in the game… the Daily Mail would have had a field day about the breakdown of society) you simply float down the screen and back to bed. Then you lose a life.

There’s more than a whiff of Jetpac about this game (except for the fact that Jetpac is great and this is not). As you collect the snow you have to go back to a drop point. The snow then falls and with each new load, slowly forms the snowman. Much like the rockets/shuttles in Jetpac. If you’re touched by a flame, the snow you are holding melts and you have to find some more.

The main problem with the game is it is too precise. You have to be pixel perfect to be allowed to climb the ladders. This means that most of the time you get caught, it isn’t your fault, you’ve just been spending ten seconds trying to find the correct position for the UP key to be pressed. This breaks the whole game – although it wouldn’t be a classic even without this fault.

My advice is either watch the lovely Snowman film, read the lovely Snowman book, or even play in the lovely snow itself… don’t play this game though. If only Quicksilva’s seasonal game had melted away with the Spring of 1985.