Controlling a small frog, the player must jump across lillypads towards his goal. These lillypads gradually grow smaller and eventually sink into the water, new lillypads appear to replace them. Enemy bugs will also chase the enemy frog. Touching the bad bugs or the water results in death. The player can collect colored balls for bonus points. As the levels increase, the game speeds up and lillypads become smaller.
Why ever did they name this game Perestroika, I'll never know. After seeing the title screen I really thought it would be some thinking game connected with micromanagement or something similar, but instead…
Oh well, it's not that the game is bad. The idea is very simple. You're the little figure that has to cross the screen to get to the money, by jumping from one vanishing platform to the other. If you can't jump onto one, you'll simply fall into water and lose a life. Once you collect the coins on the other side, you'll progress to the next level. There are some other goodies on the way you can pick up and you start off with three lives.
But the game developer named every little thing you see in the game in a reference to the political situation.
So the little disappearing platforms you get to jump on are actually laws and edicts and you're a democrat, riding the ever changing laws. On the way you can collect some dots. The blue ones are grocery goods, the pink ones are currency transactions, the orange ones are progressive taxes and the red ones adventures. The coins in the end are the stages of development toward a better life. Oh yeah, and those big guys that irritate the hell out of you are the bureaucrats (naturally).
The thing about this game is that it's not so important to which level you get to, but how many things (from the total number of offered things - those little dots) you have picked up, because that's what the statistic shows in the end, even though the game keeps a high score list as well.
Unfortunately the game has a serious flaw. If you can't collect anything you'll get annoyed by those dancing bureaucrats so much, you'd rather quit the game than have to face them again. But then again, isn't the solemn reason for any bureaucracy to annoy you into passiveness….
Perestroika (a.k.a. Toppler) is a fun game by a small Russian developer called Locis, who promptly disappeared after this "one hit wonder." What makes the game interesting and of historical value is not only great gameplay, but the fact that it operates on two level: as a game, and as a subliminal instrument for Russian propaganda (okay, this is a joke, folks-don't take it too seriously ;)). You play a frog that must leap from one lily pad to the other to get to the finish mark before the pads sink underwater. At the same time, you must also avoid big, ugly flies that chase you around the screen and eat you up. The game represents three elements of the Russian Perestroika movement: the citizens, the bureaucrats, and the capitalists. I won't say which element in the game represents which - see if you can figure it out ;) Suffice it to say that you will build a democracy in Russia by the time the game ends. Overall, Perestroika is a fun little action game that manages to convey a political message. If you like the game, also check out Toppler for Windows, an excellent fanmade remake of the game-also on this site. If you dislike political messages in games, then just ignore the connotations and play Perestroika for what it is at heart: a fun, unassuming action game. Recommended, although it's too bad the game is very difficult to get to work on Pentiums and above.
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