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It must have seemed like a wonderful idea when the developers at R/GA Interactive teamed up with Philips Media. In fact, dreams of producing a mega-hit like Lemmings must not have seemed too far away. However, somewhere along the long road to shipping a product, the producers of Gearheads must have realized that their dream wouldn't quite come true.

The game begins by you choosing the type of match you'll play from three choices: One Player Tournament, Human vs. Computer and Two Player Duel. What's the difference? In duel mode, you'll be able to choose the environment you'll be playing in (we'll get to that later), the number of toys and whether the Powerups will appear or not. Playing the computer offers three levels of play, "Gearhuh?" for the beginner, "Gearhead" for the seasoned player and "Gearmaster" for the experts.

The object of the game is simple; wind up your toys and send them across the playing field. Get twenty-one of your toys across the field before you opponent does, and you win the round. Like volleyball or badminton, you have to win by at least two points, so scores can go higher than twenty-one.

As mentioned earlier, there are different playing fields available to you. The first arena is the Kitchen, where the toys react basically as you would expect. It's a different story in the Frozen Pond arena, where your toys will slide around on the icy surface. Cracks in the pond can open up and swallow some of your toys if you send too many across that spot. The next arena is the Garden, where the toys are slowed down to a snail's pace. Wind up you toys and run to the refrigerator for a snack, this one can take a while. The fourth arena, The Factory, is filled with traps. Your toys could end up sticking to rubber stoppers, taking a ride on a conveyor belt or getting transported.

Now that we've identified where the game is played, let's take a look at the players... the wind-up toys themselves. In all, there are thirteen different toys in your toy box. Each one has its own particular character; from "Big Al" the heavy tractor you can use to push other toys across the field to "Ziggy" the quick but fragile cockroach. Of the more interesting of these toys are "Walking Timebomb" (which is a kamikaze toy that explodes whenever it encounters another toy, taking out any toys caught in the explosion) and "Deadhead" (which is a skull that scares any toy so much that it'll change direction).

You'll need to be careful when releasing your toys. Releasing them before you've had time to wind them up will result in them stopping half way across the screen. This can be a good tactic if you want to block your opponent from getting through, but generally a poor choice since the object is to score points, not prevent the other team from scoring.

One thing you won't have to worry about is running out of toys; your toy box is a bottomless pit. Personally, I would have liked to have been limited to a certain number of toys on later rounds; it may have added some challenge to the game.


Some of the most popular computer games in history were based on a simple premise. Games like the aforementioned Lemmings and Tetris come to mind. Like those games, Gearheads is based on a very easy to understand objective; get twenty-one your wind-up toys across the screen before your opponent can. But, there should be more than a premise to a game. In Lemmings, the game player needed to guide the mindless creatures through increasingly difficult screens while losing as few lemmings as possible. In Tetris, you had to think where to place the pieces and the blocks dropped faster as you progressed. But Gearheads struck me as being far too mindless. Yes, the terrain the toys must cross changes and speed is increased; but there was something missing. Perhaps it was the monotony of the game. I found myself bored of playing Gearheads within fifteen minutes of opening the box. Willing to give the game a fair review, I played on, hoping to find my boredom broken by something exciting. Instead, boredom turned into irritation. The music and sound effects only served to increase my degree of irritation. Luckily, the producers have provided an option to turn off these annoying effects.

One strange aspect of the game was the lack of mouse and joystick support, which is quite odd for a Windows based game. An option should have at least been available to configure the game for use with these devices. Instead, the game player is forced to use the keyboard.

This is the type of game you either love or dislike. Many readers may disagree with this review. In fact, some of my friends enjoyed the game. If this were a movie, I'd suggest you wait till it comes out on videotape before seeing it. Since it's a computer game, I'd have to suggest you hold off till it hits the discount shelves.

Download the Demo

Written by Mike McGrath

System Requirements:

486 DX-33 MHz or higher,
Min 8Mb memory,
Windows 95 or Windows 3.1 required,
Hard drive required with 11Mb free,
Double speed CD-ROM drive or faster,
256 color VGA display.

Windows compatible sound cards.




R/GA Interactive

Web site: R/GA Interactive


In North America:

Philips Media Inc.,
10960 Wilshire Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA 90024.

Web site: Philips Media

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