What happens, when a so far unknown team starts working on a
game under STOS and releases it afterwards? Well, who knows? In
this case the sceners get another puzzler for their machines.
Now let's have a closer look at the product which main
programmer "Gregory George" and his graphics artist "Fruitman"
have created. Both guys worked together on the game and level
design and also did the testing themselves which is usually not
the brightest of all ideas.
However first things first. Let's insert the game into the disk
drive to see if it is any good. First of all you see a Fruit
Ware logo accompanied by some fruits, and a terrible tune starts
to bawl from the monitor speakers. Sorry guys but this tune is
surely a pain to the ear it also makes you think the game is pre
1987 and not 2005. I am pretty sure everybody is searching for a
way to mute it real fast.
The menu appears, and we can see a confused guy scratching his
head in front of a "Four-F" logo made up of some 16x16 pixel
Let's click onto the the "Info" button, which teleports you
straight to a kind of ridiculous story for the game. It reads
something like: Four-F is the story of Fruitman who, got trapped
while trying to figure out what "Four-F" means. The only way for
him to escape is to reveal the meaning of "Four-F", which can be
done by finishing each level of the game and collecting all
fruits found within the levels. Woah, dudes are you serious? I
guess someone smoked the wrong "fruits" here :)
Anyway as usual there is a small obstacle; Fruitman has to
perform his task blindfolded and without going back where he
already was, so he can only use the same path once, the game
simply blocks the way he took to avoid any cheating here. Since
this Fruitman character seems a bit braindead, it's up to you to
complete the task for him, at least if you have too much spare
time on your hands.
Apart from that ridiculous story the help pages are quite
helpful and explain even the tiniest details of the game.
The "Options" menu offers you the possibility to switch the
sound between music, sound effects and no sound at all, which is
quite a relief since the music is really annoying. Lucky enough
I found the option before I went completely deaf :). One wonders
why they didn't ask someone who had a clue about doing YM to do
the job for them.
You can also select between joystick, mouse and keyboard
controls, it seems only the jagpad is missing, but who needs it
Another available option is called "Type" and offers you two
options: "Normal" and "Fill-In". "Fill-In" allows you to draw
a picture while you advance through each level, therefore you
can copy a NEO or PI1 into the game directory. "Normal" just
draws some pink coloured blocks .
Besides those settings you can select the game mode. Four F
offers two game modes, "Contest" allows you to advance through
100 predefined levels and either collect all fruits or find an
exit to achieve the ultimate goal and learn what Four F means.
In "Random" mode the playfields will be generated randomly and
you have to achieve a preset number of points to get to the next
Let's hit the "Start" button!
A loading screen appears... Level 1 here I come :) Hmmm, what's
happening now? Is something wrong with the graphics? Did the
game crash? Hmmm, no it's just telling me "Ready to play" in
perhaps the worst possible way. Phew, let's click the mouse to
On screen we find a little dude in a brickyard, and of course
there are some fruits scattered around the place. You wouldn't
expect anything else from Fruitware, would you?
Since I was so smart and read the story, I know that I am in
control of that guy and that collecting those fruits is the
ultimate thing to do to complete the level.
No Problem I thought. But with every step you do in this
brickyard, another pink brick appears behind you and blocks the
way back. In the first level you can just walk around like a
dork and collect those fruits, but later you have to think twice
before each step, or you will find yourself trapped before you
have collected all fruits.
What the heck? The game just crashed with an "ERROR IN LINE..."
message, wow nice job. Let's see if I can reproduce the crash.
Hmmm, nope this time it seems to work but strange enough nothing
happens, when have collected all the fruits. Hmmm, weird!
However the panel shows "Did It" and since I gain extra points I
continued to fill the place with my pink blocks and when I
finally got trapped, Level 2 started!
I have to admit that Four F is not really my favourite type of
game. It's is not about the style of the game, it's more about
the sloppy implementation. The character moves slowly and feels
a little unstable. The controls are no way precise, or
immediate, sometimes the character stops when it should keep
moving, or it moves when it is supposed to stop, so you better
watch it or you will end up in places where you have never
intended to go to.
I can't get rid of the feeling that this project has been a
sleepy one, since some parts are quite well drawn, and some
sections are simply horrible. However my rating - which is
perhaps a bit too good - would be:
The tune is okay for a really nostalgic game feeling, which
teleports you back to the first days of the ST (260 of course).
I guess most of the players will switch it off while playing.
I would say, keep it up guys. I hope see some more games in
future but please ask around in the scene section for help,
especially on the audio part. I am pretty confident the overall
quality of the game would have benefited a lot, also it would
have been a good idea to call in other people as testers, since
it seems there are still a few bugs left in the game.
What's the best about the game? Well the idea is quite original
if you compare it with other puzzlers on Atari. Also some
graphics are well done. All in all its a very oldskool product.
Marcer for Alive, 2005-09-17