Tuesday 1 June 2010


Twist it, pull it, flick it, spin it, bop it. Oh even better, Boppin'.

No it's not a piece of plastic by Hasbro, it's a piece of video game coding by Accursed Toys. It's what Doctor Who wanted you to buy - Accursed Toys' only commercial product first released for the Commodore Amiga in 1992. Sadly for them, the Amiga game didn't sell that well, so it was brought to DOS in 1994... after Doom. Don't you just hate it when games become a victim of circumstance?

I should have known about Boppin' a lot earlier, because the DOS version was published by Apogee Software and I owe a lot of my childhood to that company. It's also been made freeware fairly recently, and there's now a Windows version we can apparently enjoy. I'm running the DOS verison, though the Amiga version has superior sound at the expense of fewer levels. The Windows version is supposed to be the best of both worlds, but I can't be bothered to track it down and I wouldn't be treated to Apogee branding if I did.

Here's the deal - video game bad guys have been captured in arcade machines on an alien world, and now it's up to "Yeet" and "Boik" to rescue them (because without bad guys there's no score, and therefore no games). The person to blame is a character named Hunnybunz, who has attempted to clean up video games by trapping these guys in blocks. Yeet and Boik need to "bop" these blocks and save the day.

Boppin' starts off demonstrating its brilliance with the introduction sequence, which sees parodies of Pac Man, Bubble Bobble and Super Mario ask for your assistance in rescuing their enemies. The two main characters then travel between arcade games, each with a different graphical setting, destroying pieces Puzzle Bobble style to rescue the trapped evil dooers. There's mutants, there's aliens, there's Pinky from Pac Man, there's Pookas from Dig Dug, there's Daleks - it's the sort of game I would have made had I been given the chance and had the experience.

Unfortunately there's no time travelling ducks or flags of South Korea involved, but still, it's a quality idea. It's unfortunate that none of these games are actually real however - at least if it had been made by Apogee themselves we might have seen some Duke Nukem cameos. There's several episodes in which the main characters have to stop various members of the Hunnybunz family who are each trying to finish what the last member started (didn't I make a game like this too?). Once upon a time you would have had to pay extra for each episode, but those times have passed. Besides, the only thing that really changes is the scenery.

Unfortunately for Boppin', it's not the easiest of games. Some levels are shockingly simple, whereas others are stupidly hard or awkward. It is possible to get into a situation where the entire level needs to be restarted, and the life system means you can't afford to make many mistakes. On the plus side, it can be a two-player game... though I can't imagine many circumstances where this would be useful for a DOS title. More suited to video game consoles I think. On top of this there is a very extensive level editor which allows you to do great things. There's hundreds of tiles to play with and trillions of possibilities of what to do with them.

You could see yourself divided on the music though. Often it sounds as if someone has recorded themselves hitting random notes on a keyboard, but that might be the whole point as the game dots around various settings. But if you didn't have a Sound Blaster sound card this wouldn't have been a problem, so it depends on whether you see music as an "extra" or as a main part of this game. The Amiga version actually has less music so it may have been a last minute addition, which is a shame considering Doctor Who had a great theme.

If you're looking for a reason why it didn't do so well on the Amiga, a.k.a. a computer known for its impressive sound chips, that's probably it. Gameplay is alright but it's not groundbreaking, and by 1992 people would have been starting to drift away from Commodore's machine anyway. I think it's great, but does it beat the best of what the early 90s had to offer? Not by a long shot.

So... Boppin'. A very good game but let down by the fact its developers hadn't made it into the big leagues before hand. Any flaws it has are down to a lack of experience, but at the end of the day, it's freeware now so it doesn't need to prove anything.


  1. I heard the DOS version becomes a more politically incorrect game if you type "BOPPIN BLOOD" at the DOS prompt. Basically the teddy bear on Accursed Toys' logo will be all bloody and butchered and the player characters would commit suicide when all their lives have been lost.

  2. That's only in earlier versions of the game because Apogee felt a need for some quality control - the freeware release which I was playing has all of this enabled by default.