This was an arcade game which took a slightly different stance to the ball game genre.
Mirrorsoft released Action Reflex for the ZX Spectrum in the summer of 1986 and it was pretty well received by those demanding gamers.
Your chequered ball had been trapped inside a linked bunch of mazes. To win your freedom you had to traverse through all three mazes (three times in total - with each pass becoming more difficult).
The game was a flick screen arcade adventure, with the game screens viewed side on. You could roll your ball to the left or right as well as bouncing it, bouncing higher and higher if you wanted or needed to.
This classic game was played against the clock and you had to reach the end of the current zone within the time alloted or it was game over.
There were plenty of weird and wonderful pitfalls to avoid such as spring loaded boxing gloves which propelled you into sharp spikes, downwards sucking drains, killer bullets and ball magnets. Being hit/trapped by any of them wasted away more precious time thus making it more difficult for you to reach the end of the level.
Sometimes you would even be blown into a series of pipeworks which could roll you back to a previous screen. Infuriating!
To help you along the game would give you useful objects as you scored more points - which were collected on various screens by rolling over them. For instance reaching a number of points would bestow you with a rubber ring which would allow you to travel over pools of water without perishing.
Each item could only be used once though, so sometimes it was wise to hang onto an item until you reached a particularly tricky area of the game.
One neat aspect of this arcade game was the acceleration and deceleration of your ball. As you held down the left or right key the ball would speed up and when you released the key it would slow down to a stop. There was no start or stop with this ball - you had to judge the distances and speed yourself. With a bit of practice this became second nature.
You sometimes had to use this to time a run past an obstacle dropping from the ceiling or shooting upwards from the floor.
Action Reflex was quite highly anticipated prior to release as it was going to be something a little different. When it came out it did not disappoint - it was a very good mix of puzzle and arcade action. Ball type games were popular and this game was a very good one to add to your collection.
The test of time:
Well I still like this. Yes it p*sses me off sometimes and makes me madder than Mad Mick from Madsville, but it is a pretty addictive game and the puzzle solving is great. As it doesn't rely on flash graphics or music it's still a pretty good play.
Give this a go. Action!
GENRE: Puzzle/Arcade Game
RELEASE DATE: Summer of 1986
RELEASED BY: Mirrorsoft
DEVELOPER(S): Christian Urquhart
PRICE: £7.95 - UK
My ball bounds and rebounds in Action Reflex - a slightly different arcade game...
Classic Games and Arcade Games