Tutti Frutti, Commodore 16 and Plus/4, Mastertronic, 2C0092
Tutti Frutti is a perfect example of what the Commodore 16 and Plus/4 can do in the right hands. It is not just one of the best Mastertronic games on this system, it is one of the best commercially released 16K games on this system, full stop.
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Mastertronic released many games that were exclusive to the Commodore 16 and Plus/4 format, and one of these was Tutti Frutti, coded by Shaun Southern. Shaun had already started to make a name for himself on both this system and the Commodore 64, so was this game going to be another hallmark of excellent quality for such a low price? Well, the moment the title screen appears with a little catchy theme tune that will stay in your head, then you will be on the right track.
Tutti Frutti – An Introduction
It is worth letting the title screen and tune play for a while as you will soon see an attract mode of the level layouts and will give you an idea of what is to come for Super Strawberry against the acid apples. The levels play and are inspired by the likes of Mr Do and Pengo, but with a slightly different twist. You do have a timer that counts down on each level and you need to keep an eye on this to complete them – or you will lose one of your precious five lives. There are no extra lives whatsoever, so keeping those intact is a must have.
Level One – Collect the Cherries
The first level is a nice introduction into the game, where Super Strawberry heads around the orchard collecting the cherries to complete the level. On this and the second level Super Strawberry also has a weapon you can fire which bounces around the black dug out areas diagonally and can be used to eliminate an acid apple. You also have bad apples which if you dig underneath will then fall downwards (a la Boulderdash) and can eliminate the acid apples but also Super Strawberry if you stand underneath too long.
You will also note that the acid apples spawn from a central flashing block in the game. Avoiding that central block is important as you will inevitably walk past when an acid apple is present. There are only a certain number that spawn on each level, so after you have despatched a few, that area does become safer to head to should you need to. As you only have to collect the cherries initially, you can work out a path to take and complete the level as you need to.
Level Two – Cherries and Apples
You have two aims in this level for Super Strawberry: collect all the cherries, but also either eliminate all the acid apples with your weapon or by dropping a bad apple on them, or get the bad apples to drop to the bottom of the screen. The sensible approach is to get the bad apples to drop on the heads of the acid apples, allowing your weapon to get one. The tight time limit does mean you need to move fast, and dropping the apples down may seem time consuming, but carefully noting the already dug out sections will mean some can drop quickly.
Level Three – Squash the Acid Apples
On this level, you can push the cherries around like blocks and hopefully when they are pushed across the screen you will get an acid apple (or two or three if you time it well). The key is also not to trap yourself in a corner as the acid apples love to head there, and note if two cherries are together, you can squish one to clear a path for Super Strawberry. Here, the bad apples can be pushed but not squashed, but have the same affect when hitting an acid apple. Whilst there are nods to Pengo here, the fast pace of the game and the way that the acid apples come at you really does give it a sense of frenetic urgency thrown into the mix.
There is a known bug on level three on the first game you have (after loading) when you push the first block it does not always push straight away but does so after a couple of seconds. Subsequent games played will not do the same, but be mindful of that when playing when first loaded up so you can add that into your strategy of clearing the level. After level three, the next three repeat one to three but with different screen layouts, and faster acid apples, then after that those six levels loop with increasing speed and difficulty. It does mean you can get further with each go provided your reflexes can handle it!
Tutti Frutti makes excellent use of the 121 colours of the Commodore 16 and Plus/4 palette, with well-drawn and animated characters, such as the little green hat on the top of Super Strawberry, and the little walking animation of the acid apples. There are some good sound effects including a little sound when your weapon is recharged to listen out for so you can fire it again, and a lovely noise when you eliminate an acid apple. The title tune is an iconic piece on the TED chip, simple it may be but just becomes earworm, whilst the in-game version is one channel to allow the other channel for the sound effects, really giving it that arcade feel.
It is very easy to see just why Tutti Frutti is renowned by Commodore 16 and Plus/4 owners for being a classic game on the system. Whilst leaning from arcade games, it has a beautiful charm and playability all of its own, with colourful graphics, an iconic title theme, and superb playability which coupled with the perfect difficulty curve has that one more go factor in abundance. It is one of the first games I recommend to anyone trying that system for the first time and would help cement Shaun Southern’s legendary status for many fans.