Thor Computer Software by Colin Grunes, Stuart James Fotheringham, Steve Parys, Barry Leitch
This is a typical case of as-a-budget-it-would-have-been-pretty-good. I.C.U.P.S., in fact, would have been a deluxe budget with its superb graphics, beautiful shadings and colours, perfectly drawn sprites, and very nice multi-channel music, but as a game, and moreover as a full price game, seems to be the scientific result of a Frankenstein operation: the union of two unfinished games in the attempt to create a whole one. The first is a sort of Spy Hunter set in space, you drive a spacecraft in a cosmic highway and you have to destroy or dodge other flying vehicles trying to crush you or shoot you. It's not bad. Once survived three sections of that, you gain access to the second, which is a very minor Nodes of Yesod style game [actually programmed by the same people of Odin Software], in which you, as a droid with vague insect-like appearance and motion, explore a starship walking and flying around flip-screens, in order to locate four bombs. There are 64 rooms only and they are all the same and slightly empty, although splendidy designed. It was quite easy finishing it, once discovered how to get the bombs. So, wonderful aesthetics thanks to Stuart James Fotheringham, but not much else - surely a disappointment for Odin fans, as Hypaball this same year but unlike Heartland.
Tantalus is a colourful maze game in which you explore a huge set of alien infested flip-screens while desperately looking for a gameplay. Paul Hargreaves seems to be a great programmer, but a poor game designer. The movement of the sprites is amazingly smooth, the graphics are flashy and psychedelics, your manoeuvrability is excellent, everything looks good and works fine: it's like a beautiful and bright palace with nothing inside. The programmer worked on the size and on the extras of the game, producing a 1000 screens maze [or at least that's what we can read in the mags], five or six different kind shootings for you character, more than 40 different aliens moving in 16 different patterns, but forgot about the substance: so the dynamic of the gameplay is reduced to an endless wandering in very similar rooms, chased by aliens, in a map so huge that it's very rare to find the elements that would allow you to end the game [32 locks to be destroyed to reach and kill a hidden deviant]. In other words, it's almost like opening a series of boxes without ever finding a content. In fact, it's so dull that this review has become a whiny bore. So, anyway, thanks to the technical prowess in display, the smoothness of it all, and the superficial playability, overall it's a
A sci fi text adventure in which you are an amnesiac secret agent lost in a spaceship of dangerous rebels orbiting around the earth. You must, of course, discover your mission and succeed in it. The playability is pretty good, I managed to map all the three levels of the spacecraft, discover some useful items and solve a couple of puzzles, so I can say that the game is pleasant, although I didn't find it, until now, very engaging. All and all, it seems a nice a text adventure.