ZX Spectrum
David Turner
Despite earning itself a Crash Smash back in 1984, Turmoil doesn't often get a mention when it comes to discussion about classic Spectrum titles. Jet Set Willy, Dynamite Dan, Manic Miner and other platform games are spoken of with unfaltering regularity, but never a mention of Turmoil. Is Turmoil one of those games that has not stood the test of time well? Or did those boys at Crash simply overrate a mediocre platformer?

Played over a series of single-screen, contraption-laden levels, Turmoil casts the player as Mic the Mechanic, a stranded fix-it man on a mission to get home. Each level features an oil can (which Mic must collect), a leaky oil tank (from which Mic must fill his can), and a space for Mic's car (which miraculously appears as he pours oil into the space). When Mic's car is completely visible he can escape onto the next level. A varied collection of ropes, ladders, springs and other contraptions (and of course, platforms) make up each level, and the player must learn to navigate these in order to progress. Of course, pilfering all this oil is bound to lead to trouble, and in this case, the trouble appears in the form of some arabs, angry because it's their oil being stolen (did we have PC back in 1984?!?). Brandishing scimitars, and becoming more angry by the minute, these arabs chase Mic around the levels, and of course, contact with one of these furious gentlemen is fatal. Mic is not completely defenceless however, as he can drop oil (if he has collected any) in the paths of the arabs to bump them off, but beware as Mic himself can also be killed by slipping on these obviously lethal oil slicks. Various workshop tools appear from time to time, and taking these to the workshop at the bottom of the screen earns Mic some bonus points.

There are twenty-six levels in all - one for each letter in the alphabet - and a training mode which allows you to start from level I, or level S, but carries the penalty of not awarding any score during the game. As far as platformers go, Turmoil is pretty tough, so aside from cheating (and we wouldn't do that, would we?), training mode may be the only way you'll get to see some of the later levels.

Turmoil is a great game. Except for the bugs. Snarf snarf ...

Pinging around on these springs is a great laugh

Frank found his new role as teaboy somewhat precarious
at times

Jet Set Willy and Manic Miner are all very well, but when it comes to pure, fun-filled platforming on the speccy, they don't come much better than Turmoil - the 'It's a Knockout' of 8-bit videogaming. No annoying pixel-perfect jumping required here, just oodles of gaming loveliness to lap up. Each screen is an absolute joy to behold and the urge to see what contraptions the next level will offer keeps interest levels high. Animation is excellent throughout (especially on the arabs), albeit at the price of some colour clash and a smatter of flickering. Sound on the other hand (hardly ever a good point on the speccy) is VERY annoying, with a warbly tune playing throughout (probably impressive at the time) and only a few bare effects. Training mode is a useful addition, as, despite its slapstick style of gameplay, Turmoil is very tough. Once you have developed a strategy however (tip: always keep at least one drop of oil in the can), progress can be made and very satifsfying progress it is too! As I said at the beginning of this review, Turmoil earned a Crash Smash on its release, and in my opinion, it was well deserved.

Graphics: 80%

Sound: 46%

Gameplay: 95%

Overall: 93%
Large, well animated characters and bright well-drawn environments. Some colour clash and a little flickering. Hugely annoying warbly tune. Probably technically impressive at the time, now it simply grates. In a word, fun. In two words, very fun. OK, that probably doesn't make sense ... In my opinion probably the best platform game the Spectrum has to offer. Great fun. Tough, but great fun.
R E C O M M E N D E D   A L T E R N A T I V E S
Bounty Bob Strikes Back • Manic Miner • Jet Set Willy • Technician Ted • Dynamite Dan

O T H E R   F O R M A T S
Miner 2049er (Atari 2600/Colecovision) • Miner 2049er Vol II (Atari 2600)

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