The New Dimension have produced a few too many games for my liking, it's almost suspicious. Their latest offering is a one player collect-em-up; take control of "Ned the Dog", and battle through the levels to save his companion Daisy who is now in the clutches of the "evil Traxxonian". Ned has been placed in the Grid Zone and he has to collect diamonds in order to progress towards his goal of rescuing Daisy.
Initial population of the C64's memory with Richard's handcrafted binary data gives us the game's basic but relatively pleasant title screen. Things start out okay on the graphics side with a half decent logo (rather flat, but nicely coloured) but the title music lets things down a touch; rather nice instruments (especially the arpeggio) but the actual musical content is really not my taste. You are provided with the option of changing the skill level and number of diamonds required to pass each level on the title screen, and there is also an informative scroller setting the scene (but please, what is the "chiggiz"!?!). Once you've set the options, press fire and you're ready to go!
On the main game screen you are confronted with your task; you are in the Grid Zone, a top down cavern of mayhem! There are several to components to each "zone". The platforms; 5 independent horizontal ones, some of which move, and have gaps in between that Ned can fall through (losing a life), a ball which bounces around the screen and kills you on contact, and two fiendishly sequenced guns at the left and right of the screen; these fire inwards at the most awkward of times. The game starts (and restarts when you lose a life) with Ned on the bottom-most platform, and there's no hanging about to be done; collect those diamonds! The diamonds appear randomly on each platform and you just have to collect 'em. Well, it would be that simple if you didn't have to avoid obstacles (ball and gaps in platforms), and try to foresee where the guns will fire next. Judging the moving platforms is also an art in itself, and you can really get into a "zone" (no pun intended) rushing about between the platforms. Once you collect your allotted quota of diamonds, it on to the next screen.
Graphically, this game is nothing really special; Ned is made up of two sprites, using the fairly common hires sprite overlaid onto low res sprite method which gives him a little bit of extra character but that's probably about the only redeeming feature. The graphics aren't bad, it's just that they are not great either. The other sprites and background are pretty bland and the scrolling of the moving platforms could surely have been done more smoothly since they scrape across the screen rather roughly, but fortunately it seems to have little impact on the game. I also would have liked to see a little "Ned-falls-through-the-hole" animation when you plunge to your doom. In game spot effects are pretty adequate, also nothing special but they don't grate on your ears. The presentation is not too bad at all... until, the game ends, and you enter your initials for a high score. It seems Richard is using some kernal input routine, and you can basically do anything with no error trapping - CLR/HOME, CRSR keys etc. It's quite a bad oversight for something that is otherwise presented pretty well. And this is where I have to mention the oh-so horrible highscore music, it's a cross between Jason Donovan and Rick Astley (I swear there is at least 2 bars of Stock, Aitken and Waterman in there) and it is quite a torture. However, I can overlook that because this is a fun little game. Definitely the best TND titles I've played, and I recommend you try it.