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Virgin Games Ltd
1986
Arcade: Adventure
£9.95
£1.99
Multiple languages (see individual downloads)
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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53
Phil South
Chris Bourne

At last, the Pilot of the Future, Dan Dare and his trusty friend and batman, Digby (Bah Gum), fettle off into the frozen wastes of space looking for the Final Front Ear. Phil South found himself in hot pursuit.

"Tonight, Dan Dare, Pilot Of The Future, This is Your Life..." So begins this rip roaring episode in the life of Dan Dare, the Pavarotti of the Space Operas. Dan Dare has been nabbed by that Irish blighter with the big red book, and finds himself facing his grimmest foes yet... his own friends and relations! But, in the midst of the satellite pictures, carrying messages from well wishers around the globe, a fearful face fills the TV screens...

GASP! THEN...
The Mekon has set a deadly trap. He's planted an atomic bomb in an asteroid and sent it speeding towards the Earth. He knows that Dan Dare will try to stop him, so he's built the bomb into a fortress inside the asteroid. Setting his jaw grimly, Dan Dare, and his faithful sidekick Digby (Bah Gum), speed off in the good Spaceship Anastasia to save the Earth...

MEANWHILE...
I say, what a ripping yarn! Playing the part of Dan, you must forge through the corridors and grav-lifts of the Mekon's fortress and activate the self-destruct system, blowing up the asteroid. There are five SDS keys distributed throughout the complex, and you must collect them one by one and take them to the self destruct mechanism. Sounds like a familiar arcade adventure scenario? Well, yes it does, but the game itself is for from ordinary.

LATER THAT DAY....
The graphics are a dazzling lightshow, with delightful elements of comicbook style, like the words 'Meanwhile...' in a box in the corner of the screen. The backdrops are highly detailed, and so three dimensional they practically leap off the screen at you. Dan himself is a little green sprite. The animation quality is v. good indeedy, especially the bit when you don't move Dan for a bit. He looks out of the screen at you expectantly, then looks around to check no-one's creeping up on him. The gameplay is fast, tricky and challenging, with the worst enemy being the clock.

JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME...
With the weight of tradition behind it, this game should be a chart topper anyway, but the main reason will be that it's a thumping good game. Tally-ho, Digby.

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Banner Text

BEFORE THEY COULD MOVE...

Great stars Digby. This must be the toughest mission yet. What with having to find our way around a fortress maze, and fight out way through the endless hordes of Treen warriors.... There's scarcely enough time to wax my eyebrows!

These comic style caption keep on cropping up, providing help, status reports and information. This is the great strength of this game; it truly captures the spirit of the original comic.

Yes, you can do rapid fire by holding the fire button down, but it's best not to. Try using the rifle in single shots wherever possible, making your ammo last until you really need it.

There are a lot of Treen Guards along this section so it's a good policy to start each screen with a good blast from your laser rifle. That'll put the wind up the blighters.

Here's out hero, Dan Dare (tah dah!) making the bold step. This is the way through to Sector two of the asteroid. To find the SDS key in this sector, just go left until you can't go further, then down and right, then down again. That's the ticket!

This is the inter-complex intercom system window. The malevolent Mekon is watching your progress on his monitor, organising the Treen to stop you. He pops up on the station's screen occasionally to taunt you with "The Earth will be mine!" and other such friendly greetings.

SUDDENLY....

Dan, despair! In the murkier levels of the complex, you will face not only my faithful Treen, but also my deadly robots and floor guns. Heh heh heh heh heh heh soon the Earth will be mine.......

This is a floor gun. Brrr. In level 1 you can jump on the floor guns and smash them, but on this level it's a bit more difficult. They tend to be in confined spaces, so there's no room to jump. The trick here is to shoot a robot when it's over a floor gun, and he'll drop onto the gun stunned and smash it!

(Dah dah dah!!!!!) he biggest enemy of all is... the Timer! You have just two hours. That may seem like a long time, but every time you get knocked out you lose ten minutes. Only twelve lives gone and you're dead... ad the Mekon conquers the Earth!

Dan is standing by a grav-lift. You operate them by standing about where he is now and pushing UP. You'll then float up onto the next platform. On level 3 you must forge up, up, up, 'cos the SDS key on this level is up in the ceiling by the exit to level 4.

The Mekon's robots room the levels from 5 upwards. They shoot laser beams in all directions and can be extremely annoying, not to say downright dangerous. Shooting them with your laser will stun them momentarily so you can pass them safely. Phew!

The attention to the 3D lifts this game out of the ordinary and into the dazzling. Take these 'shadows' - they lend the display a far greater level of depth and reality. For graphics buffs, the smooth shading on the pillars is a sort of checkerboard effect on a carefully placed attribute square.