Product: Joey
Publisher: Blue Ribbon
Compatibility: Acorn Electron
Reviewed by: Dave E
Originally published in EUG #74
JOEY by Blue Ribbon

Tie Me Kangaroo Down

Altogether now, "Tie me kangaroo down, sport, tie my kangaroo down..." No? Alright then, what have we got here? A platform game by the name of Joey with a distinctly Australian theme to it. Released on the budget Blue Ribbon range in 1987, it's a game that seems to have missed the ever-watchful eye of the Acorn press. I think this will be the first review of it ever written.

Smooth Operator

Joey the game is a platformer which bears more than a passing resemblance to the famous Chuckie Egg. You play a red, and quite cute-looking, kangaroo who lives in a world of ladders and platforms. Patrolling certain sections of each screen are monsters that look like blue dog-heads. On later levels, there are also aborigines to avoid too. As part of the Oz theme, your quest is for boomerangs which make a pleasing little blip when you touch them, float upwards and disappear.

The animation is first rate with Joey responding very quickly and accurately to key controls. Everything is also very smooth - Joey, the monsters and the lifts, that move up and down the screen, all glide rather than walk around. And when Joey jumps, it is in a graceful arc. Using a combination of jumps, climbs and scurrying left and right, it is possible to collect almost all of the boomerangs. The remainder have to be collected by cunning use of rebounds, or in some cases pixel-perfect timing.

Colliding with the edge of the screen turns your kangaroo character around. The differing heights of platforms can also cause such collisions too. This is one of the features of the gameplay which makes Joey very different to other platform games. The game is fast - but you don't race around with the same kinetic energy as Chuckie Egg, for example. Nor can you take many of the risks with leaps of faith into the air as associated with that classic platformer. You can fall as far as you wish without dying but, if you bump into platforms on the way down, they will alter your trajectory. If you're on course into a black hole, this is a good thing. If they send you into the path of a monster, it's not so good.

The Product Of A Devious Mind

You also cannot jump from one platform, across the mid-section of a ladder, and grab onto that ladder. You can only get onto the ladders by ascending them from their base (or descending them from their top). Some of the deviously-laid out screens mean you've got a real struggle on your hands, particularly if you only have nano-seconds to collect the boomerang before a monster comes patrolling back.

JOEY by Blue Ribbon When you start each game, you get a message asking you which screen you wish to start on, and whether you wish to delay the appearance of the aborigines. I mentioned these guys earlier and their inclusion really makes a tough game a hell of a lot tougher. At screen nine, they are out in abundance, hurling spears, hurling rocks and hurling boomerangs at you. Unlike the monsters, they appear either on the same row as Joey (at the extreme left or right of the playing area), or directly above him. They eye him up for a second and then throw their weapon towards him, necessitating a frantic scramble out of their way. Spears and boomerangs they throw can be jumped over (if timed correctly) but boulders need to be avoided at all costs. Fortunately, only one aborigine appears at any one time but, with monsters and lifts to contend with on top, this presents an additional challenge.

Conclusion

The different elements, and the slowly increasing difficulty level mean that Joey is really not a bad game at all. It's colourful, the animation is great and, although it does become extremely hard very quickly, it's addictive enough to keep the player not only on his toes but also coming back for more. Go on, get your Rolf Harris CD collection out and give it a whirl.

Joey is also reviewed in Episode 57 of our FIVE GAMES FIVE MINUTES series of videos.