It’s time for a quick look at another random old game from the pile which this time is going to be Ocean’s Pushover. I only picked this up recently at Revival Solstice although I did play it a little many years ago.


It was published by Ocean in 1992, developed by Red Rat Software and is a puzzle game with some light action elements. It consists of 100 screens in which you play an ant who has to move dominoes around in such a way as to get every one of them to fall with a single push and a particular one to fall last . There are numerous types of dominoes to contend with. Some will keep flipping until another domino gets in their way, others float upwards before toppling, some explode, disappear, split in two, etc.. It’s a neat set up for a puzzle game giving endless options for levels, some of which get extremely tricky.


The arcade element comes in as it’s often required that you start dominoes moving and then race around rearranging others before the chain catches up. The level design can be extremely unforgiving here allowing no mistakes whatsoever. It is also possible (and sometimes required) to trigger dominoes without a push by falling on top of a splitter while carrying another domino.


The motivation and storyline behind all these puzzles is where things get a little strange. Back in the early 90’s here in the UK, Quavers crisps were being advertised on TV in short cartoons starring a character called Colin Curly, voiced by Lenny Henry. For instance:-

I have absolutely no idea how the deal came about but Quavers ended up sponsoring Pushover and Colin became a part of the game. The intro sequence shows him enjoying his Quavers a little too much, to the extent that he floats into the air, they all fall out of his pocket and he loses them down an ant hill. G. I. Ant volunteers to get them and the game starts. The intro only lasts 20 seconds or so but takes up the entire first disk of a two disk game.




Every 10 levels or so, you collect a packet of Quavers from somewhere that isn’t all that apparent and get a naff little animation of giving it back to Colin. These crisp packets then appear on the menu screen to show your progress. What any of this has to do with toppling dominoes I have no idea. If I’ve ever seen sponsorship shoved onto a product as an afterthought this is it.


The deal was taken a step further with free Amigas and copies of the game being given away in crisp packets as pushed in the advert below:-

Sponsorship aside, the gameplay of Pushover is really solid. This sort of title has a degree of timelessness and having to control G. I. Ant is quite a nice touch rather than keeping it as an abstract puzzle game. You can’t let him fall too far and have to bridge gaps, blow holes in platforms and the like to get him where he needs to go. I would still say that Pushover is lacking a certain spark but I’m not sure exactly what. I’d just like to see a bit more variety I suppose. The levels get harder for the most part and the backgrounds change every few levels but nothing truly new is ever introduced.

I found the controls could be a little wayward on the Amiga and this was certainly a point of frustration. It’s mainly because on an A1200, it plays considerably faster than it’s supposed to. This wasn’t something I realised until late in the game when I looked to YouTube for assistance with a particularly nasty level and saw everything moving at half the speed. I managed until I got about 80 levels in but reached a point I simply couldn’t progress past at that speed. I swapped to the Atari ST at this point which aside from the worse sound was near enough identical. It’s about time my ST actually saw some use – near enough everything on it slightly inferior to the Amiga version and it never gets switched on.


The last level of the game is a little devious as all the dominoes are blank and don’t show you what type they are. It all has to be worked out through trial and error but is at least relatively simple otherwise. The scant reward for beating all these levels is a static congratulations screen.


Pushover is a pretty decent game that probably deserved better than having some inappropriate sponsorship thrown at it. I can’t recommend it wholeheartedly as it’s just not quite special enough but it’s was above average when it was released and hasn’t suffered all that much for the 25 years since. There was a Windows remake done a few years back which may be the best way to play it now but any of the other versions I’ve tried hold up perfectly well.

Match Day

This was Chris Roberts’ second game for Ocean (who owned Imagine) on the BBC. Match Day was a massive game in its day leading to Ocean wanting to get it onto as many platforms as possible. Having just brought them a bestselling game for the BBC, Roberts must have seemed like the obvious choice for the job of porting it to the system. I know Martin Galway worked on the C-64 port so he may have been an influence also.

Match Day is a simple arcade football game. I’ve played it previously on the Spectrum and also seen the Amstrad CPC version so I’ve got something to compare against this time. The first thing I notice is that the BBC port has no cup competition to enter, no settings to alter the match length and not even any team names. It is literally just a one off game. It does have a two player option at least.

The game starts with a jaunty rendition of the Match Of The Day theme music before kick off. This is a truly simplified version of football with less than 11 men a side and only one fire button used to kick the ball. This kick lofts the ball into the air no matter what so it isn’t possible to pass the ball in the conventional sense. If the ball bumps into another player anywhere other than at their feet it bounce soff them as though they were a brick wall.

In the Spectrum version, it was possible to walk down the pitch bouncing the ball on one players head in this manner and no one could tackle you while you walked the ball into the net. That doesn’t seem to be possible here at least.

Once you have the ball at your feet, it sticks there as if glued although it can be tricky to keep hold of it with the constant harassing from the other side. Scoring a goal appears to be just a case of kicking the ball between the posts with enough power to cross the line. The goalkeepers in this game are no more than a third goalpost and rarely move other than to dive out of the way of a shot aimed straight at them. Because the ball is always lofted when kicking, long shots work better than those close to the goal.

This isn’t a game that has held up too well. The main thing that strikes me is how slow it is. I ended up putting the emulator onto 2x speed to get it up to the tempo it feels like it should be going at. This speed issue was far from unique to the BBC though. The Spectrum version was possibly a little faster but it was extremely ugly by comparison. As for the Amstrad CPC version, it had similar graphics but the speed was far worse than this and all but unplayable.

Comparing it to those other versions, this is a decent port but there is no way I could recommend this game to anyone. It’s one of those titles that you look back at and wonder why on earth we all spent so much time on it.