TIRED of the Weeks yet? No? Just as well, because you're about to be inflicted - with Wally, Wilma and Herbert - and an assortment of truly awful puns - yet again.
Three Weeks in Paradise, Mikro-Gen's fifth in the Wally saga, continues the adventures of the computer world's most accident-prone family. What was supposed to be a holiday on a magic island has turned into a nightmare - Herbert and Wilma have been captured by the Can Nibbles - groan - and Wally must rescue there, build a raft and escape into the sunset.
The game seems simple enough at first. Rescue Herbert from a boiling pot, where he is guarded by two ferocious lions, and cut Wilma down from a tree. She is next for the pot and has been strung up by her heels to ripen - rather like a game bird.
The island, although jungle at first sight, has many landscapes - beaches, underwater scenarios, a frozen forest and a few others which are so well hidden it would be a shame to spoil your fun.
Wally starts his quest, avoiding swooping bats and beasties
Patrolling the jungle is an Indian chief - a malevolent little chappie who takes random swipes at Wally to kill him off. You never know when he's going to hit out, so the best idea is avoidance or failing that, to jump over him. Also on the jungle scene are bats, bees and butterflies-slow flying beasties and easy to avoid.
The game is played from left to right and vice versa. Gateways in the foliage signposted 'in' lead to further screens. So, viewed from afar, Three Weeks in Paradise resembles a series of layers, one in front of the other. Occasional screens may be hidden up and down so leave no stone unturned and remember, other things besides clouds lurk in the sky.
The idea is to explore the island thoroughly, making use of a diverse number of objects to solve the devious clues necessary for Herbert's and Wilma's release. The problem lies in the fact that you can carry only two objects and yet three or even four articles may need to be found and used in the correct order to gain entrance to a hidden screen, or to enable you to pass a statuesque guardian - like the stone lions.
If you're going to get anywhere, that means a logical thought process, and a twisted mind. For instance, what's the bowl of stuffing for? Why has the mint got a hole in it? Why is the crocodile grieving for its lost handbag? How do you sharpen the blunt axe? Those are just a few of the teasers.
To find out why the crocodile is feeling so snappy, you have to find the handbag which lies across a sea of quicksand. How do you get over the quicksand? - the answer lies elsewhere.
Three Weeks in Paradise is likely to drive you bonkers. All is saved, however, by the remarkable picture-book graphics. Colourful and superbly drawn, it is difficult to believe that David Perry, the author, has no design experience. No wonder the game took ever six months to program, although apparently there are special routines for the graphics, programmed into another computer and then downloaded to the Spectrum to save memory.
Wally recovers from a fall, and the frog croaks in sympathy
You are given some help in the game. Scrolling messages appear under some screens offering a variety of cryptic clues. On the screen containing a but and one of the Flintstone's cars lies the message, 'You've got to be a sharp cookie to understand this clue'. I was so sharp, I tried picking a flower and attempted to make a cookie over a fire, in a goldfish bowl, with oil and water. Needless to say, I was on the wrong track. The clue is telling you to sharpen the axe, but you'll need some ingredients to do that.
Think back to the tale of Androcles and the Lion for a clue to pacify that surly beast guarding Herbert. You'll need to draw out the thorn, but you'll want some tweezers. Go and speak nicely to the crab who may need some persuasion - hot water, for instance.
How do you get the Rain God to dance? Try burning ashes, but first you'll need to make a fire and something to blow it up. Check it out with the croc and search the well. The answer to Herbert's release lies in the clouds. Blow them aside and watch the sparks fly. Another trip to the well would be advisable at this point.
After working out how to cross the quicksand, go for a dip in the ocean - Wally's doggy-paddle is quite amusing. Dodge the fish and seahorses and locate Davy Jones' Locker, the key to which lies elsewhere, located through a hole in the wall and well-guarded. Pull the plug on the seabed and you'll find yourself in a strange volcanic region. More clues here, perhaps?
Back on dry land lies Old Faithful, a geyser. The geyser works like a toilet - find the creeper to flush it and the water starts spouting. An eagle's nest lies above the geyser, but to get to it you must first pay a visit to Davy Jones' Locker. Once in the eyrie, you might be able to play red Indians.
The masking effect in Three Weeks is excellent. Wally will disappear completely behind some objects, so that if you were to pause the game, you would not be able to see him at all. Some objects are hidden in the same manner so search diligently. When you've found the mint, take it to the frozen forest and locate the hole - Fox's Glacier Mints might be a helpful clue. Once you've found the hole be careful not to lose it - it's a black sphere! If you place it in front of something black or drop it behind a column, you may never relocate it.
Other than the flying pasties and the Indian, Wally can be stunned by any number of seemingly innocent objects. Each time he is hit, he slumps to the ground, stars revolving round his head and then gets up rubbing his backside, and saying 'Ouch!'. The repeat performance takes time and quickly begins to pall.
In previous Wally games, comments have been made about the colour clash surrounding the characters. To keep everyone happy, David Perry has written in an option whereby Wally will take on the colour of every object he passes, thus getting rid of the clash by merging into the background. Personally, I was quite happy with the small block of colour which follows Wally around - it doesn't detract from the enjoyment of play in any way.
Music is another optional feature. You might be able to stomach the jingle for a couple of hours, but I found the silence easier to think in. If you do choose to turn off the music, you'll still hear Wally's footsteps as he patters about the jungle floor.
At the bottom of the screen is a dotted outline of a raft. As you solve each problem, the raft fills in until eventually, at the end of the adventure, it is solid. By that time, Herbert and Wilma will have been rescued and you can set sail, The score is measured as a percentage and that also helps.
Two skeletons stand at the bottom of the screen, their only movement being a spat of impatient foot tapping if Wally pauses too long. However, their places are taken by Herbert and Wilma when they are freed by Wally. Next to the skeletons are four skulls. Each time Wally gets killed, one of those disappears.
According to Mikro-Gen, Three Weeks in Paradise is harder to complete than Herbert's Dummy Run, or Pyjamarama, but marginally easier than Everyone's a Wally. I found it hard enough. The clues are devious, but not impossible, and once you know where certain objects belong, or what they do, you can look at the remaining articles and tasks, and try to work out some way of grouping them.
The graphics are large and colourful, the animation smooth. Three Weeks in Paradise is a pleasure to play. I would recommend it to any Wally mad enough to buy it.