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It’s fair to say that there was no shortage of colourful console-esque platform games on the Amiga, particularly as the 1990s rolled around and brought with them Sonic The Hedgehog on the Mega Drive and Super Mario World on the SNES. Suddenly the race was on to create Amiga platformers that could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those famous console titles, and a great many splendid games were released on the format as a result.
Even in this crowded company, Harlequin stands out as something tremendously special. Bursting with creativity, graphically gorgeous and with a scintillating soundtrack by Barry Leitch, it’s easily the equal of the finest platformers the 16-bit consoles had to offer, and an utterly fantastic game in its own right.
There’s huge amounts of variety in the gameplay (it’s not just platform-hopping; here be ropes to swing from, slopes to slide down, zipwires to ride, a giant glass of fizzy pop you negotiate inside a bubble being sucked through straws, and a bunch of other watery areas you can only explore after transforming into an angel fish); the controls are instinctive and precise; the puzzle system is ingenious, encouraging and rewarding exploration in a remarkably satisfying fashion (you have to flip switches on every level to remove obstacles or create pathways to access new areas; the trick lies in finding all the switches and working out what they actually do via a series of visual clues); and each level is a completely unique experience, with its own individual setting, enemies and obstacles to overcome, and its own distinct mood.
By the time you get to the end you’ll have scaled clock towers, romped across rooftops, descended into haunted lift shafts, explored heaven and hell, invaded a console platformer called Cutesy Bros and jumped between the notes in a giant enchanted book of sheet music, all set to a collection of atmosphere-enhancing tunes that range from the celebratory to the sinister.
For Amiga Power: The Album With Attitude
, Barry has created a joyously uplifting remix of the Clock Tower theme which is first heard on the game’s opening level. He’s named the piece the “Atom & The Molecule Mix”, after a certain happy occasion that provided inspiration for the new arrangement. What occasion? That would be telling…