Atari ST

Harlequin is a strategy-based platform game for the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST released in 1992 by Gremlin Graphics.

The game was written by Andy Finlay, with graphics by Ed Campbell. It was produced by Pete Cook. The sound is credited to Imagitec, and was composed and arranged by Barry Leitch.

Tagline: Probably the strangest game ever!

Harlequin takes place across multiple eight-way scrolling levels, each one of which is completely unique, featuring different scenery and enemies. Your character, a harlequin, has returned to his homeworld, Chimerica, to mend its broken heart. To do this, he must find the four pieces that the heart has broken into and take them to the central clock tower.

Finding the pieces of the heart involves a fair deal of strategy and puzzle-solving. Almost every location contains switches that, if flicked, can open up new areas of the current level or change things in different levels, creating new pathways through the game and closing others. Completing the game is thus made more difficult, because the game world evolves as the player interacts with it. You don’t have to play through the levels in any particular order to complete the game, but you may often come to a dead end and have to retrace your steps in order to flick a switch you missed, thereby opening up a new route. Some levels need to be revisited several times if you want to make progress, and particularly important changes to the game world actually show up on the map that appears between levels, offering clues as to where you should go next.

Each level has a different setting and graphics style. Most of them are quite weird, happening for example inside a giant clock tower, across the rooftops of a city, or in Egyptian or Mayan mythology (called “The Dream Mile”). There is a level where you are sucked through a maze of drinking straws (called “Suck It and See”), like a bonus level in that it is packed with health power-ups. Each screen also has a background music tune, but some tunes are shared between several screens.

Power ups include a burger (for health), a space hopper (grants invulnerability and higher jumping), fire-works (a sort of partial shield that orbits Harlequin) and an umbrella that can be used as a parachute. There is also a fish power-up that allows Harlequin to turn into an angel fish when in contact with water.

Harlequin is mostly noted for its good-quality graphics and music and the sheer size of the levels it takes place in, as well as some of its twisted humour and 1990’s pop-culture references (e.g. The “Matey” bubble bath bottles in the swimming pool


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