Having been disappointed with Luke Warm and his stupid helmet yesterday I thought today I’d try out Softstone’s Fahrenheit 3000 to see if it can do the JSW-clone thing any better. This time, the player controls some bloke who’s been sent into the nuclear reactor, the reason being that the reactor is going into meltdown and (you’ve guessed it) the only way to prevent the surrounding countryside turning into Chernobyl is to collect lots of objects over interconnected screens.
After a title screen which plays a BEEP-based version of Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D minor” (thanks to Jimmy from the World of Spectrum forums for identifying the tune for me) you enter the game and first impressions are good. The graphics are decidedly average but they’re nice and clear, even if the player character looks a bit podgy, and everything moves smoothly and at a reasonable speed (man, that’s so much better after the sluggish feel of Stay Kool). The first screen has a few obstacles to avoid and a couple of nasties; shouldn’t be too hard. Except that that’s deceptive. It actually requires near pixel-perfect positioning and timing from the player and… this is the thing, maybe it’s because he’s on the stout side but the wee man bounces! I mean he rebounds off the walls when he hits them, he doesn’t go through them or have his jump come to a standstill when he hits a solid block like in JSW he rebounds all over the place like he’s in a pinball table or (more pertinently) in the manner of Henhouse Harry in Chuckie Egg 2.
And that first screen, the game’s opening screen? It’s hard, I mean really bloody tricky. It took me about fifteen minutes just to pass it and there’s a lot of learning to do regarding timing and avoiding (or utilising) the bounce. After Stay Kool‘s rather simplistic and easy screens, being thrown into the deep-end of platforming skill like this takes some getting used to. But it’s worth it because when you get past that first screen not only does the game get a little bit easier but it’s actually not too bad.
Okay, there’s none of the imaginative character of the JSW screens on display here but the various rooms our little chap has to negotiate are actually quite well-designed for gaming purposes and beating them feels satisfying. The bounce, which I started-off hating, actually comes into its own on some of the screens where the player needs to use it to “climb” to some areas. This gives the game a somewhat different feel to most JSW-clones which goes in its favour. You also don’t die from falling too far which, in a game designed like this one, is a Good Thing. You also get loads of lives (in the form of a radiation level which goes higher each time you get zapped – I’m not sure how many lives you have but it is loads) and given how hard this game is you’re going to need them.
But despite all these positives Fahrenheit 3000 can’t reach JSW‘s crown and knock it off its head. For a start the items that need to be collected aren’t the glowing miscellany we’re used to in this type of game, instead they’re pressure valves (that nonetheless vanish when collected) which look like sparkly-box thingies that change colour and can only be collected when red. This is rather a mean-minded aspect of the game since the colour changes apparently happen at random making collecting them slightly risky – something that is unnecessary and annoying. As I said before, the screen designs, whilst often quite devious aren’t actually all that interesting and there’s not the same desire as in JSW to get further and see more of the game. Also, the nuclear plant setting means there’s not much variation in the subject matter for rooms and they seem all have various depressingly doom-laden names like “The Pools of Certain Death” and “The Acid Bath”. There’s probably a screen called “You’re Going To Die, Arsehole” in the game somewhere but I haven’t found it yet.
Despite these problems, though, F3000 is a pretty good JSW clone, it moves nicely and the screens, whilst a bit bland, are reasonably challengingly-designed. it’s definitely worth a look if bouncing a fatty around depressingly-named but quite devious levels appeals to you and you like a challenge. It’s not as good as JSW but it’s reasonably different to be worth recommending in its own right.
The link to the game on World of Spectrum is here. There are actually two version of this game, the original release from Softstone and a re-release by Firebird Software. The re-release has the option to choose joystick control and (for no apparent reason) a pyramid on the title screen (?!).