It’s (not) hammer-time

If you’ve ever played P. P. Hammer and his Pneumatic Weapon and suddenly downed tools in protest over his choice of apparatus you might have considered swapping it for something else. How about Mr Turrican’s rotating laser beam thingy? Funny you should ask because in Crystal ‘nothing to do with the football club’ Palace by CompuTec Verlag you get to play as a boy-wonder magician wannabe who shoots gyrating sparks from his magic wand.

Rather than clearing blocks with an industrial-strength hammer-drill to open up new passageways (or just for the thrill of destroying defenceless masonry), you wave your wand and then steer its glittery projectiles into the path of a target.

Cutesy purple knight and green sheet-ghost baddies patrol the first level – a medieval castle – though can’t be dispatched in the same way… or at all. This is more of an avoid-em-up than a shooty shindig. Swerve the water, dodge the roaring flames and collect the power-ups that spring from some (random?) broken blocks, all the while racing towards the exit against the ever-ticking clock.

‘I’ bubbles confer invulnerability, ‘E’ is for energy (as Sesame Street teaches us), while fruit will boost our points accumulator. Run out of Es and our hearts dwindle to nothing as we fall over on our back Bub and Bob style.

In the subsequent forest level, we face demented stripey cats who pace back and forth like caged tigers. Oh and bees; escape artists from Rainbow Islands no doubt.

Controls are responsive… perhaps a tad too sensitive and floaty for comfort, while the collision detection definitely needed more work before the stable door creaked open. I didn’t have the patience to play beyond level two, assuming there is life ‘beyond level 2’. An existential question I’ve often asked myself.

…and er, that’s about the extent of it. Crystal Palace was delivered cover-mounted via Amiga Fun magazine in March 1993. It’s an unspectacular platformer with reasonably respectable graphics, musically accompanied by a single, OK-ish track (and no sound effects), hampered by suspect collision detection. I predict you’ll spend longer reading this page than you will playing the game itself.

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