Version tested: Retro
Now here's a particularly unusual Spanner to throw into the Spectrum works (thang yoo very murch). As soon as I got started playing the game, I had to go right back to the beginning of the review and disagree with the game's box: This isn't, I brazenly demand, an arcade adventure. It is though perhaps the finest RPG ever seen on the Spectrum, with game mechanics so subtle and advanced we're only recently seeing their like again today.
Obviously based on the most popular Christmas movie of all time, players take on the role of All American Steve and attempt to bust themselves (not the entire prison population including the mole faced forger) out of the POW camp. But stay your itchy trigger finger, Mr McQueen, because The Great Escape is more a cerebral challenge than the "boots first 'n' brawn" we might expect. This intriguing title is a brilliant meld of many multi-coloured genres, and could perhaps best be described as a Skool Daze-Tenchu-Dizzy-Zelda-Head Over Heels crossbreed (even though it came out before most of those other games, but you get what I'm saying).
Surely the first game to ever take the central character's morale into active consideration, much of the sticky sweetness of the movie inspiration is gone, replaced instead by a more cursive approach to war crime imprisonment. The guards fear the patrolling Commandant every bit as much as the player, while the hide and seek gameplay establishes a very personal link between the prison leader and the player. A brilliant cross and change betwixt protagonist and antagonist that even Steve failed to portray so expressively.
The Great Escape isn't recognised as the ground breaker it turned out to be, so go and emulate yourself a game of it and break free of the publisher run gaming oppression which enslaves you.
8 / 10