Bod is a squishy, marshmallow-y alien with a beautifully animated sprite to match. And yes, OK, he is basically Slimer from Ghostbusters. But when you see how wonderfully he squidges around the levels of this time travelling platformer, you won’t care. Er…his time machine resembles the Tardis, too, but unless you’re a BBC lawyer you won’t be bothered about that either.
Our hero has come to earth in peace and unarmed. He just wants to rescue his mini-bods, who’ve stupidly got themselves stuck across the three time zones that make up this adventure. There’s an 18th Century Castle, the pyramids of ancient Egypt and grim Victorian times to explore, all via platforms. Lots of platforms. You push up and down to jump, holding longer to perform a super jump. This helps you navigate pits, spikes, fire, and all the usual stuff. The enemies are themed to each level, too, so you’ll encounter mummies, witches, knights and more.
Switches dotted around each stage add a puzzle element to the game. Pushing them will open a drawbridge or push open a wall. Sometimes you need to go back and reset them which really keeps you on your toes.
IT COULD HAVE BEEN SO BEAUTIFUL
The game looks gorgeous, especially the main sprite. But it’s frustrating to play (check out how much trouble our guy – an experienced gamer – had in the video accompanying this piece!), and way too short.
We’ve done a bit of digging, though, and unearthed The Bod Squad‘s tragic back story. When you hear it everything starts to make sense. In short: it looks like a premium title because that’s what it was intended to be.
Initially, Bod was sent out in demo form by programmer Kent Murray to a bunch of full-price software publishers. It was originally meant for Digital Magic (they of great lost title Escape From Colditz) before their collapse. Thalamus – Creatures and Summer Camp – were next on the list. They loved what they saw, but told Kent that they were six months too late: they’d already given up on trying to making money out of the dying C64 market.
Eventually, budget label Zeppelin said yes. But they demanded it was turned around in super quick time for a £3.99 release. Just three levels were wanted, which accounts for it being so short. Many more were initially planned. The game’s maddening level of difficulty, inescapable pits and questionable restart points can also be attributed to this: if there’d been more time, play testing would have weeded it out.
The good news is that Kent intends – one day – to release the game as he imagined it would be. As it stands we’ve got a frustrating, limited glimpse at what could’ve been an all-time classic and a very generous review score. CF
CF SAID: “The only thing stopping it from being a Corker is there are only three levels.”
WE SAY: Send your angry letters to Thalamus…