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Four-F Review
       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.

       Playability 5/10

        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.

       Music 2/10

        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.

       Overall 5/10

                                           Marcer for Alive, 2005-09-17
Alive 11