This arcade game was originally released for the ZX Spectrum by Perfection Software/Softstone in 1984 before being re-released by Firebird Software in 1985.
This is probably not the most well remembered of arcade games, but the Firebird release is probably the one that sticks in peoples minds most.
Both releases of the game were identical apart from a different loading screen and a different menu screen. The Firebird release also incorporated joystick support, which was no bad thing.
The premise of the game was that a nuclear reactor (called Dragon Reactor) had gone critical and was about to go into ‘meltdown’. In other words, the ceramic coated uranium oxide core had reached Farenheit 3000!
The local residents were understandably, a tad worried about the situation - the meltdown could wipe out much of the South Coast of England. To prevent this catastrophe you had to locate and operate all of the pressure valves inside the reactor to release the excess pressure and flood the core - thus cooling it.
The game had a total of 64 screens to play through which were linked vertically and horizontally. Each one was filled with a different combination of platforms.
Anything flashing was lethal with radiation and killed you on the spot, save for the single flashing character blocks which were the release valves. Each room was also filled with radioactive hazards, such as creatures bouncing up and down and from side to side, which also meant instant death when touched.
Other hazards you encountered included enormous pools of radioactive water (which had to be avoided - sometimes it was possible to jump over them). Your character (a podgy little fellow) could perform a pretty giant leap and also had immunity to long drops (providing you do not hit anything lethal on the way down).
The screen display included a title for each room (as was tradition in these types of games), as well as telling you how many valves were still to be opened. There was also a radiation level which really acted as a number of lives counter - you were given lots of spare lives, and you needed them.
The one difference in this classic game was the 'bounce around' characteristics of your plump little character. When jumping, your little man would bounce off a wall if you hit it, or the edge of a platform - almost like a pinball.
In games such as Jet Set Willy your character would come to a standstill when hitting a solid block - but not here. This bouncing action added something new to this type of game - and the physics of it were pretty impressive. In fact you had to use this bounce around aspect to make your way through some of the screens.
Another aspect of the game was the odd colour schemes and flashing graphics. Some screens had truly garish colours, bright reds and yellows combined with large 'flashing areas', which could be difficult to look at for any length of time. The games programmers Timothy Williams and Chris Jones certainly went to town with this!
It looks as though they were trying to capture the radioactive element of the game - giving a lot of the screens a bit of a 'glow'. Even the menu screen had flashing and alternating colours set to the music (a nice rendition) of Bach's Toccate and Fugue in D Minor - Fahrenheit 3000 title screen.
When the game was released it was of course compared to JSW - which had become the bench mark for these types of platform arcade games. The game was well rated and noted for it's difficulty and addictiveness, with Crash Magazine awarding it a healthy 81%. Graphically it offered nothing over JSW screen wise, although some of the game's nasties were very nicely animated. All in all Fahrenheit 3000 offered another good option for platform game fans, and came very close in quality to Matthew Smith's classic game.
The test of time:
We here in the land of Spectrum Games reckon that this game is worth another look after all these years. The physics when your character bounces around the platforms is still impressive, and it's worth exploring to find as many depressingly named screens as you can! (The Pools of Certain Death? - sounds like a Radiohead song). Cramming 64 screens into 48K of memory was an impressive feat - Timothy Williams and Chris Jones created a nice (and tough!) little game here - a good classic arcade game.
So, stick it on and bounce a chubby little bloke around, just make sure you wear sunglasses to ease the glare!
We recommend getting hold of the real hardware but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download this game for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.
Please see our other Spectrum Games reviews and programmer interviews. All links are in alphabetical order. Cheers guys!
GENRE: Arcade Game (Platform Game)
RELEASE DATE: Softstone version - 1984 Firebird release - February of 1985
RELEASED BY: Softstone / Firebird Software
DEVELOPER(S): Timothy Williams and Chris Jones
PRICE: £5.95 - UK
Our chubby character bounces around for a bit before eventually escaping from the first screen in this classic arcade game:
Classic Games, ZX Spectrum Games and Arcade Games