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Ocean Software Ltd
1985
Arcade: Action
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

Other Links


136,137
Chris Bourne

Deep within the bowels of the Castle Rygellian, far below the Holy Torture Chambers, is the Slime Beast's Department of Abduction and Foreign Queen Abusement. Here lies the Queen of the Cosmic Wartoads, the leader of a brave and truly cosmic race of honest and good-some toads dedicated only to truth, justice, mom's fly pie and the toadican way of life. Kid napped by the Rygellian Slime beasts, she has been transmuted to the ghastly (to War-toads) form of a human female.

Understandably, the War-toads are incredibly narked by their brave leader's demise, so a crack toad is sent off on a rescue mission. Time is not limitless, since the queen is tied beneath a murderous SLUDGE SAW that descends slowly but surely towards her helpless form. It has fallen upon you to rescue your queen, since you are the the bravest of the cosmic wartoads a Toad among toads.

The path to the Slime King's lair is not a mere hop across the lily pad: you have to cross the perilous RYGELLIAN TIMEVOID. In the void are the-eight pieces of the COSMIC TOOLKIT, a menacing compilation of deadly machinery capable of dismantling the sludge saw if you get to your Queen in time. The kit is most awesome and contains an assortment of amazing goodies including an Intergalatic Whisk, a Chronosynclastic Stanley Knife, a pair of X Ray binoculars, a Stellar Fish, a Death Ray Smutt Gun, a 3 Million Megawatt Light-bulb, a Cosmic Axe and a Zippo Lighter.

Whilst in the time void you take the form of Cosmic Willy, a tadpole creature that acts as a cursor. Each square within the eight by eight grid which comprises the timevoid is a time node. Your journey starts in the top right cell of the void and the idea is to reach the Queen at bottom left. You can only move to adjacent nodes in the grid it's no good trying to make a mega leap straight for the Queen's location.

Each node has to be travelled through before you may use Cosmic Willy to transport you to the next. To get through a node all the nasties that live in the time vacuums that lie behind the node must be killed with your Constant Recoil Alpha Pellet gun. A node may contain up to four time vacuums, each one full of nasties which have to be defeated before you can re-enter the time grid and move to another node. There are three different types of nasty to be found within time vacuums, with each vacuum containing just one variety. You get to pit wits with Slime Masters, Sludge Slugs and Frenzied Flies during your travels and when you enter a node a window opens on the screen and you enter a sub-game in which you do battle. As you inflict damage on the nasties, your Toad Points increase. Conversely, as the Rygellians score hits on you, the Slime Points tally rises.

During battles with the nasties Wartoad may be assisted by Ultrasonic Robot Defenders. Each time you clock up 1,000 Toad Points one of these beasties appears in the playing area automatically and can delay some of your enemies by seizing hold of them for a while how long a while depends on the difference between Toad points and Slime points. Toad must stand still to shoot, and he can only fire forwards, so you must move him to the appropriate location before blasting away.

Status displays on the border of each game screen indicate how the battle is progressing, and the nasties themselves change colour to let you know how close to winning you are. The most powerful nasties are the red ones. Then, in descending order, are the magenta, yellow and white versions. To defeat the nasties you must keep shooting until they go white, and then shoot some more! All they have to do to win is score enough hits on you to move them up a colour whereupon you lose a life and have to start that node again. Toad has three lives when he loses all three he is reincarnated at the top right node and effectively restarts his journey. Meanwhile the Sludge Saw has got even closer to the Queen…

The Slime Master homes in on you and his touch is deadly. Escorted by his fawning minions, the Slime Pawns, the Slime Master himself is loathe to attack a Cosmic Wartoad preferring to send his cohorts on the attack. Wartoad can move within the playing area in the four basic directions, followed round by the nasties. Each time you despatch a cohort or score a hit on old SM himself, you get closer to victory.

Sludge Slugs come mobhanded and cling to the top of the playing area, out of range, dribbling slime at you. Every so often a slug (or two) lets go and falls to the floor. You've got to zap the slugs as they fall and avoid being slimed or hit by a falling invertebrate. In this subgame Toad can only scamper left and right but he can protect himself from falling slime and slugs by shooting them.

Frenzied Flies appear in a swarm, bunched together in the top left hand corner of a time vacuum. Attack squadrons of four insects leave the main mass and go for Toad, who must blow them away before they drain his energy. Once again, he can move in four directions.

Parts of the Cosmic Toolkit can be found in time vacuums all Toad has to do is walk over them and add them to his collection. Keys which give you access to the Roads to Nowhere and Somewhen can also be collected in a similar manner. These roads provide a means of hopping from one time vacuum to another (and hence travelling between nodes which are not adjacent). Four pairs of nodes are linked together by the roads, and they appear as red squares on the timegrid at the start of the game. When you collect a key, one of the pairs of linked nodes unlocks and changes to white on the grid and you can 'jump' between them.

Other squares within the void are also colour coded. Green shows the node currently occupied while purple means that a power node sits at the end of that node's time vacuums. Once the nasties lurking the the va cuums behind a purple node have been eliminated, Wartoad will automatically be transported to the LILY POWER WINDOW where the Constant Recoil Alpha Pellet gun may be recharged. A bar at the bottom of the screen show the gun charge remaining if it reaches zero three lives are lost, and it ' s back to the start node, toad.

After completing a node, a scene showing the queen held mercilessly below the sludge saw appears with the saw moving just that bit closer. The sludge saw takes an hour and a half of real time to complete its descent, during which time you need to collect the Toolkit and arrive in the node where the Queen is held captive. Failure spells death for the Wartoad Queen and a ' Nice legs, shame about the face ' message reveals itself. So, there it is. Are you Toad enough to take the challenge?

CRITICISM

'After Frankie this has to be Denton's best to date, Though markedly a Denton product, with windows, icons and other such paraphernalia, it wasn't actually their design. The game itself is very neat indeed and though many of the sub-games are quite mindless they're great fun. The scenario and instructions on the accompanying inlay provide nearly as much entertainment as the game itself. Whoever was responsible for these certainly has a slightly unstable sense of humour. Graphically Cosmic Wartoad is very nice, and the main sprite is cleverly animated, though a little colourless. The windowing system works very well and isn't as obtrusive as Denton's previous attempts. Cosmic Wartoad is a very good release indeed and is well above the usual Ocean standard. Denton fans will love it but it's appeal should spread to many other gamesters'

'Yet another game by Denton Designs and boy is it good! The only way of describing the game is by comparing it to Frankie - if you can imagine a load of totally original sub games all combined to make one game then that's the nearest you'll get to Cosmic Wartoad. The graphics are generally big, colourful and very detailed, as you would expect of Denton. There is very little sound besides a sort of tune on the options screen. This is one of those games which proves quite difficult to start off with but if you persevere with it then it doesn't take long before you're hooked. My only real gripe with the game is that the instructions are not that good. One of Denton's best!'

'There's an awful lot of instructions to this game and the scenario is well complicated. It took me a while to read and digest the inlay and I still had to play for about half an hour before I fully understood what was going on. Maybe I'm a bit dim... Once you get to grips with this game, however, it's really neat - and frustrating. I can see it's going to be a while before I crack the problem and rescue the Queen. Essentially there are three arcade sequences, each of which is a compelling game in its own right, and there's an overall strategic element to the game. The graphics are good, especially the animation of the Cosmic Wartoad himself - if you don't move he just sits there and blinks at you. Lots of nice touches add up to a compelling game.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: defined at start of game
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2, Protek, AGF, Fuller
Keyboard play: responsive
Use of colour: bright and cheerful, avoiding clash
Graphics: large detailed Toad sprite, some excellent animation
Sound: minimal, odd noises for shots and screen changes
Skill levels: one
Screens: three sub-games, plus time grid and Queen Screen
General Rating: A good game, which can be tricky to get into. Worth the effort.

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Screenshot Text

Cosmic does battle with the Slime Mster and his yukky minions in a subgame which windows out of the Saw Screen. Good job he's got his trusty Constant Recoil Alpha-Pellet Gun.

The Queen of Toads lies helpless, strapped below the Sludge Saw. Are you Toad enough to save her?

The Time Void window, where Cosmic Willy acts as your cursor. On the left are the slots for items of the Cosmic Toolkit and on the right are the spaces for the keys to the Roads to Nowhere and Somewhere. The black silhouettes are coloured in once Cosmic has collected the artefacts they represent.

Cosmic's in the Sludge Slug subgame window, and three of the slimy beasties are falling...