Interceptor Micro's by David M. Banner, Terry Greer
I've always found the apocalyptic situation inviting and desirable, especially the looting aspect of it: during the confusion and the chaos I could have assaulted a shop of Spectrum stuff. And After Shock would have been one of the games I'd grab. It's a catastrophist adventure game set in California - I think - where an earthquake, probably the Big One, has just hit. As if that wasn't enough, Fukushima-style, in the outskirts of your town there's a nuclear reactor too, damaged by the sismic event and hence ready to cause more destruction. Accidentally, you're one of the engineers that designed the reactor, and so you take it on yourself to reach the place, repair the damage and avert the danger. Here's where the first problem arises, you're at your office, in a high building on fire, stairs blocked by the flames and out of order elevators. How are you going to get out? It's an intriguing start, as the whole concept and adventure. Unluckily, you're probably going to get already stuck here, the parser seems to be slightly limited on the synonyms side, while at the same time, it requires articulated sentences with prepositions and specific terms to get past some crucial points.
If you manage to get out of the building, anyway, you can wander among the ruins and visit the local zoo too, and find many items, some of which are just random objects littered around by the disaster, and not really helpful or necessary to solve the game. If you manage to go past the pile of rubble you'll even learn that the looter's life is not much fun, when you meet troops deployed to defend the rich block. And that if you meet a gang of looters you'd better make them think that you're one of them. So, it's an intriguing adventure, with nice and vaguely literary descriptions, splendid pictures [albeit rare], but a bit too much frustrating, for this reviewer.
Ariolasoft UK by Orpheus Ltd (Andy Green, Jeff Philips, Stuart J. Ruecroft)
It's your run of the mill maze game with radioactive leaks. You're a walking and floating robot that must collect dozen of parts of a circuit that will help stop the leak, or something like that. You have a laser too, plus a very limited amount of grenades and a couple of other weapons, for the tougher droids. There are teleportation booths to reach new areas and try to complete the puzzle of circuit fragments. The game is very playable, graphics are nice, and your character is well animated. It's quite easy and not very challenging, so, lacking in variety too, can get boring very fast. It's a decent effort, anyway.
A four pocketed arcade/adventure by the author of Riddler's Den, in which you leap from room to room in the shape of a toad looking for a princess to have tadpoles with, and to feel like the charming prince you know you really are (in your dreams). Lots of items to be picked up and used in the right place and in the right way, a fastidious insect trying to drain your energy and appearing in every single screen, other quaint and lethal characters blocking various entrances or trying to steal from you: there's a lot of things to keep you occupied for a while, I even checked the animated walkthrough in the RZX Archive YT channel, and it's 37 minutes long. Only, I've no intentions to face the game again. It's frustrating and annoying. The worst feature is surely the triple exits idea: sometimes to access another room you have to choose one of three exits, two/thirds of which randomly hide lethal scorpions who will exterminate all your five lives. Not particularly enjoyable. You can, anyway, understand what's the safe exit by examining the environment: there's always a detail of the background, like the conformation of a rock, that enables you to identify the harmless passage. Besides that, I don't think the collision detection is very good, and you often have to struggle to find the right position allowing you to perform a simple task like picking up an object. The graphics are ok, although the animation is rather jerky and not very rich of frames. Every creatures seems to be pulsating as if affected by fits, spasms, retchings or some syndrome. The sound is a tendentially abominable amount of buzzes. Although in 1986 it's got decent reviews in the mags, unluckily Toadrunner is nothing to write pond about.
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 leaping cute little thing solving puzzles in a 3D environment annoyed by silly aliens that enjoy sitting on his head, in a nutshell, that's what Kirel is. The aim is to pick up the bomb and get to the door to the next level before it explodes, so your mind has to race against time trying to find the best and shortest way to achieve your task. It's, in fact, as usuale, easier to say than to do, and the screens are increasingly tricky, the 3D perspective will hide things from your eyes, but you can change it pressing 1, 2, 3 and you must learn the nature and the use of the objects that you will find. For example, the aliens, which drain your energy when they climb on your head, can be defeated using nothing but pieces of cake, you start with a good amount of them, but soon you will have to pick more of them. But your main and fundamental skill is picking up slabs of the irregular and orographic "chessboard" you're playing on, and repositioning it elsewhere, in order to reach secluded spots, or reach some item. The break key will be very helpful too: it freezes the game and removes the obstacles that are hiding your sprite and/or important objects, so that you can understand where you are and where you must go. Another great feature I've discovered reading a review or two [distractedly, I didn't notice the instructions for Kirel in the WoS archive] is the possibility of building a bridge between two equally tall points by simply pressing B [I've found the key at the first attempt, I can proudly claim], which can save a lot of time. It's a really different isometric 3D game, with almost no animation, just puzzles in single screen levels and no exploration at all, and it's very original and addictive indeed: a fabulous and neglected little game from 1986.
Electric Dreams by The RamJam Corporation (Simon Dunstan)
I sang in my mind The Kinks' omonimous song for all the time I've been playing Dandy, which luckily distracted me from the strident sound effects of the game - but it doesn't matter: a game awarded with a Your Sinclair Megagame, a Sinclair User Classic, a C+VG Hit! and with general very good ratings and reviews must be excellent! Well, not really. I think it's just good, maybe very good, and far from being the best Gauntlet inspired effort. It's playable as much as monotonous and lacking variety. Destroying a whole army of [creepy, well-animated, disquieting] spiders and, returning back to the same room, find it all again alive and ready to kill you is a bit tiring and demoralizing. Although, to be fair, there are a few spells scattered around which help to improve the flow of the action, and in some rooms you can destroy the lair of the spiders - chests full of bones - making them disappear forever. Still, I'm not captivated, engaged or intrigued. Nice and colourful backgrounds, sprites are often a bit confusing though. P.s. you can trade the treasures for energy.
You're an old time wizard wearing a funny tunic, which must cross a series of haunted landscapes displayed in a horizontal scrolling way. The main magic you must learn to handle are the classic SHOOT, DODGE and JUMP - although you can have the occasional chance to try "levitation", "immunity" and "invisibility", with the latter being of dubious usefulness, because you just can't see where you are and if you're a falling in a pit or in the quicksand, while, of course, the baddies seem always perfectly aware of your position.
Graphics are not totally terrible, though most of the sprites look silly and they're not really animated besides the wizard, which apparently can count upon a couple of frames. The sound deparment prides itself with a decent beeping tune and a very intriguing effect at the start. The gameplay is rather limited, and you must learn to control the height of your jump in order to obtain a not lethal trajectory that won't make you land on a gargoyle [first level] or a ghost [second level], because once you're actually jumping you can't change your maneuvre. Anyway you can even carry five or six [magic] smart bombs, a feature that saves this game playability by giving you the chance to obliterate the wicked creatures reaching the spot where you're going to pose your feet, which would have been an unavoidable death. So, there's nothing technical or creatively really interesting in this game. But I personally find it rich in playability and addictiveness so it's a debatable
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.
Mr. Greg A. Holmes, taking a break from Gremlin Graphics, and Mr. John Holmes, taking a break from the pornographic industry, penned this universally panned budget game[*] under the label Central Solutions. [*] 5/10 from both Your Sinclair and Crash But to say the truth, it's not that bad, it's a maze game with neat and colourful graphics, in which you are driving a tank picking up pieces of something spreaded through various flip-screen rooms teeming with other tanks and lethal crabs. You have some bullets too, but you'd better spare them for the most difficult times because they're counted, and, anyway, shooting the enemy is not always the best choice, because they reappear immediately, and you could be right over their reappearance spot. Playability is okayish, although you can die with irritating frequency, even for some debatable reasons, for example, you may be ahead of a tank following you, but making a 90° turn [into what may be your only escape route], it will reach you, touching you a corner pixel of your shape. Also, it's rather easy to fall into little rivers crossing the screens and die. So, be very attentive to where you put your pixels. Anyway, contrary to the esteemed magazines cited above, I don't consider this little game insufficient.