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Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Relax, it's...

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Ever willing to take full advantage of a tenuous licensing opportunity, Ocean managed to just about capitalise on the fortunes of the humongous success of Liverpool's finest before the bubble burst for Holly Johnson, Paul Rutherford and the comedy scousers from the 118 adverts. Eh? Calm down.

Released to slightly bewildered acclaim in late summer 'Into the Groove' era of 1985, this almost random collection of minigames seems to have little relevance to the band. Thematically, at least, it played up to the slightly confused, babbling enigma that band's marketing machine seemed determined to attach to the band's controversial image. Evidently, hot Liverpudlian developer du jour Denton Design was happy to oblige for their scouse brethren...

The game itself kicked off, confusingly, inside a fairly normal looking house. You are, like all kids of English suburban 1985, bored shitless and looking for some sort of escapism. So, you run around dull terrace streets, nipping into other people's houses, with the over-arching aim of boosting your personality so you can enter the Pleasuredome. Arf.

Poking around everyday objects like flying ducks on the wall or cupboards might even give you an experience and affect your stats in some way, boosting love, war, sex or religion in some unfathomable way. All this and the bassline of Two Tribes, too.

But where the 'real' game kicked in was once you got to play the various throwaway mini-games. Evidently influenced to some degree by the multi-stage, multi genre approach used by Access in Beach Head and Raid Over Moscow, Denton even threw a nod to Bruce Carver's work in a game entitled 'Raid Over Merseyside' where you had to shoot planes trying to bomb Liverpool and nearby Birkenhead. Arf arf.

It wasn't really a game you could take especially seriously, and with silly throwaway spitting games between Reagan and Gorbachov mixed in with a one brick-breakout game, and another where you warped between holes, it was slightly guilty of trying to appear cleverer than it actually was. Wasn't disposable culture all part of the 1980s? It certainly worked a treat in what was as odd a game as you'll ever come across.

7 / 10

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