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Arcade: Maze
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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Chris Bourne

It's the graveyard shift in the security room of a highly secret office complex. All the security guards are happily slumbering, unaware of the terrible fate that has overcome the building.

Suddenly, the smoke detectors go off, and as the guards rub the sleep out of their eyes, the full horror of the situation slowly dawns on them. The buildings have been attacked by highly sophisticated terrorists. Bombs have been planted all over the place, set with time fuses. The time limit to the game is set by the fuses on the bombs.

Normally, the security services can cope with this sort of everyday occurrence, and would just send In the security droids to sort things out and bang a few heads together. But things are getting out of hand. The terrorists have got into the central data banks, reprogrammed the security droids and then wrecked the computer.

So there's nothing for it, but to call in the Deactivators. These little chaps are a dedicated team of super droids controlled via an icon system in the lower display area, below the view of a pair of rooms. Pressing the fire key brings up four icons: select a droid, throw, scan, and return to the game. In scan mode, a cursor can be moved around a small plan of the building displaying the contents of rooms in detail. Select a droid allows the cursor to be moved around the plan screen, and a droid selected. This droid can then be moved around from room to room. The main display reveals the room the droid is in, and an adjacent room.

Each of the five levels of the game is progressively harder. The First level is a simple four by four grid in which there are three bombs to be destroyed. Rooms are linked and many of them have several exits, although some have windows, transporters, or poles which allow vertical travel. Circuit boards can be found in some locations.
The circuits have differing effects when they are moved to the computer room and plugged in: force fields are deactivated; transporters initialised and lights turned on in dark rooms for instance.

Reprogrammed security droids are out to get the unarmed Deactivators. The only way to kill a security droid is to get it to follow the Deactivators around and fall through the floor a few times. Usually, getting a bomb out of the building requires team work. The bomb gets picked up by one droid, and then thrown through a window to another droid. You should make sure that the other droid is ready to catch the bomb when it is thrown, as bouncing a bomb around tends to make it explode!

The throwing system itself is a laws question of selecting the throw icon, and then chucking the bomb, circuit board or whatever when the indicator reaches the angle desired. However, adjacent rooms tend to have different gravities, or even totally different orientations presented on screen upside down, or sideways.

Should a bomb explode, then both the room and the clumsy droid are eliminated which could mean the game becomes impossible to complete.


'No way can this be described as an easy game. Even the first level takes a lot of getting used to but, as long as you can master that, you'll really get into it. Some of the problems are neat and totally mind-blowing on the later levels, with the rooms at all angles, and some dark. The icon driven system can be another sticking point, but at least it means a complicated game can be controlled from a joystick. The graphics are well drawn, and there are some jolly visual effects like the bombs going off, it's rare to see a strategy game with so much care taken over presentation'

'Games like this have never really appealed to me as they involve too much brain and pencil work. Graphically, Deactivators is unique - I have never seen a game quite like it be. The droids are detailed and well animated and the rooms are drawn in neat perspective. The sound is disappointing; there are no tunes and the effects are limp. The game is very difficult to play even on the first level, though if you do persevere it gets very rewarding when you finish a building. Very playable if you stick with it'

'Now and again it's nice to see a game that does not involve shooting things. Deactivators is something of a strategy game as you must plan all your moves perfectly beforehand. Just one slip could have explosive consequences! The graphics are simple and uncomplicated as is the game play, although lobbing the bombs around does take a little practice. The explosions are well done, with the screen shaking violently, but unfortunately the room in which the explosion takes place is totally devastated, making it practically impossible to complete that level. An ingenious game - and a welcome change.'

Control keys: definable
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2
Keyboard play: effective
Use of colour: limited
Graphics: good perspective effects
Sound: tune on the 128, the odd beep on the 48K
Skill levels: two
Screens: 160
General Rating: An impressive blend of strategy and arcade.


Screenshot Text

The bomb's about to blow its top. Quick, throw it out the exit!

Caught with a bomb by a baddie. The room on the right explodes...