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Ubi Soft Ltd
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K

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Linda Barker
Chris Bourne

There're lots of puzzle games around at the moment and they all seem to begin with 'P'. Strange, isn't it?

But even stranger is that every last one of them seems to involve moving blocks or balls around to get them to touch and disappear. Makes you wonder if there's a conspiracy afoot, doesn't it?

Actually, its fine by me. I love games that make you concentrate and do little abstract methodical things that take ages. Some call it boring, I call it absorbing - and I'm sure you've got your own perfectly good idea of whether it's really your cup of tea or not.

Each level in Pick 'n' Pile starts off with a mass og balls raining down from the top of an empty screen to pile up in one great lump in front of you. If there are any stacks made up of similar-coloured balls then they disappear right away, giving you some clue as to what you have to do. That's right, you have to swop the balls around (using a cursor) to produce more single-coloured piles - which will promptly disappear as well.

Of course, it all gets a lot more complicated very quickly. The skill comes in trying to place balls in positions where they'll prove useful in the long run, rather than just making them disappear immediately.

There are lots of added complications too. For instance, while each ball is worth a basic 50 points, you can increase the value of a pile by getting some bonus points into it. Some balls have multiplication signs on them - get one into a pile before it disappears and you greatly increase the value of the column. Alternatively, you can use special wall blocks to gain enough support to build a much higher (and so more valuable) pile.

Once you get near to finishing a screen you may find you've got some odd balls left. This is where the bonus bricks (things like diamonds, walls and fire) which you can find amongst the normal balls come in handy. Place one on any ball and they both disappear. If you haven't got any left then just press a key for some more balls to work with. Beware though - time's ticking away fast!

What else? Well, there are the little devils who occasionally appear in the midst of all the balls. Try and keep these at the top of the piles for as long as poss because once they reach the bottom time starts running out twice as fast. A good way of getting rid of one is to place a bomb (if you've got one) in the square underneath him - it'll destroy about eight of the surrounding other things.

There are other rules and regs, but, well, you'll find them out yourself if you buy the game - the main thing iS that you're up against time, which, let's face it, is a loads nicer thing to be up against than lots of men with machine guns.

So there you have it - a puzzler not unlike all the recent Ocean games really. In fact, apart from the extra colour and the balls instead of blocks it's almost identical to Puzznic. The graphics are perhaps better - colourful and clear for the most part. It's not often that things get hard to make out. Yep, Pick "if Pile is a very pretty game.

The only problem is it can get a teeny bit annoying. It does go on a bit. You have to clear about four identical screens before going onto the next one, and then it's only the graphics that are different - the gameplay is almost exactly the same. This can get especially frustrating when you have to go through all the easier bits again to get to the one that's causing you probs. Puzznic had more variation.

Still, that aside, I keep coming back for more. It's all very pretty and colourful and fairly addictive. Like I said, I guess I just like this sort of game.

Colourful French variation on the puzzle game theme - addictive, but not as good as Puzznic (for instance).


Screenshot Text

Various icons to play about with on this screen - fires, hourglasses and the like.

Pretty colours, though on-screen it all looks a bit fuzzier than it does here.

A-ha! This is more like it. Most of the time the balls have this sort of sort and fuzzy 3D look to them.