THERE ARE FEW EVENTS in the world of 16-bit gaming that stir up as much interest as the next release from The Bitmap Bros - not only because the boys have consistently delivered the goods in the past, but also because you're never quite sure what tricks the next one will have up its sleeve.
So far, they've shown the way to behave in shoot 'em ups, kicked ass with some seriously violent future sport, gone deep for a three dimensional adventure and made gods of us all with some state of the art platform action - always adding a little of their own magic to what are generally tried and tested formulas.
And with a back catalogue like that, what better to add to the roster than a cutie platform game? But there's cute and there's cute and the Bitmaps' idea of cute has a decidedly bolshie kid (the, if you will, Bitmap Kid) jump into a wild world within his own pockets in an attempt to retrieve some of his favourite toys from the evil demons that lurk within (this is all explained quite a lot better in the comic that comes in the package). The Bitmaps' idea of cute also packs quite a punch when it comes to its onscreen action factor - but then, what else would you expect?
WHAT AN ABSOLUTE TRIUMPH! Once again the Bros have managed to take a fairly ordinary and worn out game style and breathe some new life into it. From the moment that Betty Boo kicks in with Doin' The Do to set the game in motion until the massed ranks of the cutesie (but deadly) enemies finally put paid to your quest, this is a riot of gameplay - and as we all know, that's what it's all about. The beauty of Magic Pockets is that you can play it to just about any level that you want: you can simply stroll around searching for your toys and killing everything you see in the process, or you can actually use your head to get the absolute maximum results. The reason for this is that the scoring system can actually be used to the player's advantage: the type of power-up available is determined by the score that you notch up (the next feature from a range of 10 appears every 5,000 points), so if you watch carefully you can wait until you know that the next bonus due is the exact one you want and then go get it (the next power-up due flashes behind the 'power up' icon in the bottom right of the screen). What's more, hidden rooms, bonuses and even 'warps' which transport the kid from level to level are all in there - but only if you're prepared to go and look for them. And for the icing on the cake, the graphics and sounds are up to the same standards as the game design. Don't expect the usual cute fare - this one has a real edge.
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