Bear Bovver, ZX Spectrum

Bear Bovver was created by well-known coder Jon Ritman, with music by Guy Stevens, and was published for the ZX Spectrum by Artic Computing in 1983. It’s basically a BurgerTime clone, except you’re dropping batteries down a series of platforms, onto a car at the bottom of the screen, instead of burger buns and patties onto plates.

As you make your way across the platforms, climbing up and down ladders, you’re being chased by a group of two-legged ‘bears’ (although, to be honest, they don’t really look like bears, they just have yellow faces. Ritman must’ve decided they were ‘bears’ because of their passing similarity to teddy bears). Occasionally a green dinosaur-like creature – and later a Jetman-type character – will also join in the chase, although they don’t seem to act any differently to the chasing bears. The enemy AI is somewhat direct, although you can lure them in a certain direction by positioning yourself a certain way, just like in BurgerTime.

The key thing to note about Bear Bovver‘s gameplay is that the batteries must be dropped down to the car in the correct order. And once you have a battery on the back of your car you must then get into it and drive to the next position. If you make a mistake and drop a battery in front of the car it will explode if it drives into it. So you must remember not to drop batteries to the very bottom too early. It is, of course, advantageous to drop them part way, in preparation for dropping them onto the car later. You can also get into the car to avoid chasing enemies, which is not just useful, but is also a required strategy when trying to beat a level.

From time to time, various drinks might appear on a level, and collecting these will give you bonus points. Some drinks will also award you with time bombs that you can drop to destroy chasing enemies. You can blow yourself up with these bombs, though, so do have to be careful when dropping them.

Bear Bovver can be played at two different difficulty settings: “Baby Bear Mode” and “Big Bear Mode“. In Baby Bear Mode the enemies don’t kill you when they touch you, but in Big Bear Mode they do. And, because the sprites are quite large, it’s easy to collide with an enemy and lose a life. Big Bear Mode is challenging, and Baby Bear Mode is way too easy (in fact the only thing that can end the game in Baby Bear Mode is crashing the car into a prematurely-dropped battery). If you want to change the difficulty setting you can although the instructions don’t say how, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s not possible. Simply leave the keyboard alone after a game ends and don’t press anything on the keyboard or joystick. The game will then cycle back to the title screen, where you can change the difficulty setting.

The game plays a constant tune (“Teddy Bear’s Picnic“) during gameplay, which can be turned off by pressing “1” or “2”, and can be turned back on again by pressing “3” or “4”. You can also pause the game by pressing “5” and quit the game by pressing “H”.

Bear Bovver has eight different screens in total and does have a high score table, but no name entry. It’s a simple, early Spectrum game that is amusing to play for a while, and did show promise from Ritman, who later went onto much greater things on the Spectrum (he later co-created Batman, Match Day, Match Day II, and Head Over Heels, among others, which are all fondly-remembered).

More: Bear Bovver on Wikipedia
More: Bear Bovver on World of Spectrum

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