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Reaktor
1986
Arcade: Maze
£8.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

80
Gwyn Hughes
Chris Bourne

I like Tigress-styled games. I thinked Think till I was well and truly thunk, and now Deactivators is de activator of my tired mind.

This time the ace design team has come up with a complex arcade puzzle totally unlike anything you've seen on your Spectrum. It's an abstract maze game, but it calls for a goodly number of arcade skills too just to keep you on your toes.

Actually, there are no toes in this game, nor fingers, because your bomb disposal squad is totally devoid of anything but droids, which is pretty lucky really since they're eliminating the explosives in the most unlikely environments ever. And there are security droids on patrol which the terrorists have reprogrammed to attack you. See what I mean when I say it's not a good place for flesh and blood.

Playing Deactivators is easier than describing it but playing it well is fiendishly difficult. Each level of the game contains a series of rooms arranged in a grid. The first of these is a mere four by four, but they get bigger as you progress.

Most of the rooms are linked, either by doors, trapdoors, which only allow downward travel, and poles, which allow two way vertical movement. Windows are too high for a hovering droid, but you can throw things through them, and teleports serve to... well, teleport. Also in the building you'll find a computer room.

The first thing you should do when you approach a new level is make a map. Get to know what will take you where, using the scan facility, accessed through an icon menu, because there's nothing worse than being stuck with a fizzing fuse in a dead end!

Next, check where the circuit boards are because you'll need to insert them into the computer if you're to complete the task. They do things like removing force fields, switching on teleports and even the lights, so they're invaluable for getting about.

Then, find the exit to the outside world. You throw the bombs out of this, so make sure that you know the fastest route. Finally, study your map and try to decide on a strategy, because you'll be pretty busy when the action starts.

The game becomes a test of manoeuvring your forces within a set time limit. You have to pass the circuits and bombs through windows if you're to carry them to their correct destinations. Meanwhile, movement of robots within the proximity of a guard leads to a frantic game of chase as you try to collect objects without colliding.

Throwing a bomb is controlled by a clever system, with a swinging line indicating the angle of the shot. Given that explosives don't take too kindly to being tossed around, you need to judge this carefully. Position your fielder so that the bomb doesn't bounce around the floor before going Boom!

If a bomb should explode prematurely you'll lose the droid and the room it was in, which can bring a game to an early end.

As the levels progress, Reaktor has included some fiendish tricks. Different rooms have different gravities, making those throws even more difficult. Sometimes there are no lights. Worst of all are the upside down and sideways rooms, which makes orientation tricky to say the least. There you are, trying to position yourself accurately and make a flawless throw, when everything about your joystick is the wrong way round.

With its clean graphics and clever control system, managing to provide all the information you need to do the job, this is another goodie from Tigress. Providing you don't mind putting in some hard brainwork in order to play, it's a must!

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Banner Text

Bigger even than a Spectrum Plus Two, this is the computer room, all ready to accept those circuit boards which are scattered around the research centre.

Until you've inserted the first circuit, this window remains shut. Then it's a tricky shot to pass a computer card through this window, so that the computer room droid can place it into the correct slot.

A bomb! Pick it up by passing over it but make sure you're not carrying anything else at the same time, or it'll blow you sky-high.

The first level map is almost useless, apart from telling you where the bombs are. You'll need the scan facility to find the paths around its rooms. When you hit fire, this becomes the icon window.

Your droid, hovering around as you consider its next move. Pressing fire to enter the icon window pauses the game, so that those bombs stop burning away. If he was carrying anything it would appear in the bottom right-hand window.