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Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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Andy Wilton
Chris Bourne

Mental exercise from Vortex/Gremlin

Lasers may be a standard part of the shoot-em-up author's repertoire, but they rarely play any great part in brain games. That's rather a pity: even though it only scratched the surface with its simple mirror arrangements, Virgin's Rebel showed what absorbing puzzles you could make out of optics.

Don't despair, laser fans. Where the Gang of Five didn't quite do the trick for Virgin, Vortex's one and only Costa Panayi has come up trumps with this new deflekt-em-up. Now you've got multi-direction mirrors, fibre-optic conduits, polarising and refracting blocks to deal with as well as bombs, blobs and some thoroughly infuriating aliens.

It's a simple idea really (though you needn't think that'll save your sanity). Each screen has a laser and a target, and your aim is to connect the two using the optical devices to hand. These are mostly mirrors, fixed in position but pivoting so that you can point them more or less whichever way you want. Just use the joystick to move your cursor over the mirror you want to adjust, hold the fire button down, and push left or right to swivel the mirror one way or the other. In addition, different screens have fibre-optic cables - aim a beam into one end and it comes out of the other still going in its original direction - plus automatically rotating mirrors and various other devices which you can use to your advantage.

Before you can construct the beam path, you'll have to clear the screen of blobs. These little devices have been left lying around by aliens, and you only get clear access to the target once you've zapped them all by deflecting the laser so as to hit them. It's tricky work: the aliens also leave bombs lying around, and playing the laser on one of these for too long will blow you to pieces, costing you one of your three lives.

Bombs aren't the only hazards. Many of the screens have walls of absorbing brick, and these can prove dangerous; while you can glance the beam off them if you hit at a shallow enough angle, they'll overload and destroy your laser if you leave the beam playing on them at right angles. Similarly, if you bounce the beam back down into the laser projector you'll soon get an overload in either case, or if you take too long and run out of power for the laser, you lose a life.

If all these ways of dying sound easily avoidable to you, you're reckoning without the game's most maddening feature - aliens! These interfering little menaces don't take kindly to people zapping their blobs, so they'll scramble your nicely arranged mirrors whenever they get the chance. You can knock them out for a while if you catch them messing with a mirror - just put the cursor over them and press fire - but they can do for you a sight more permanently by setting up an overload or pointing the beam at a bomb. If your cursor's over the other side of the screen it's a mad dash trying to save the situation here, and time's still ticking away.

The gameplay has a number of slightly unusual touches to it. the main one being the system of lives: you start with three of them for each screen, no matter what. Scrape through a screen by the skin of your teeth and you've still got a full set of lives for the next one - but come through unscathed and your bonus'll be that much larger. This makes it easy to get through to reach the screen you're currently stuck on, but doesn't provide too much of an incentive to perfect your technique.

Fascinating stuff that keeps your heart firmly in your mouth. Deflektor's got 60 screens of beam-bouncing problems. With some of these being a touch on the easy side that may not give it the longest life imaginable, but it is addictive stuff. Vortex fans, you have not waited in vain

Reviewer: Andy Wilton

C64/128, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Dec 87
Spec 48k £7.99cs, Out Now
Atari ST, £19.99dk, Jan 88

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 85/100
1 hour: 90/100
1 day: 85/100
1 week: 75/100
1 month: 60/100
1 year: 30/100

Brainy stuff and addictive too - but the odd lives system slightly mars the long term enjoyment.


Banner Text


Coded by Costa himself, and it shows: bright colours and chunky shapes earn this one a big thumbs-up on graphics.


The near-finished version we saw was great to look at and listen to, but the Gremlin conversion team slipped up rather on the cursor: it gets in the way of the selected mirror, so you can't really see what you're doing when you swivel it around.

Screenshot Text

This alien will swivel your mirrors out of alignment given half a chance.

A polarising block: the beam can only go through it when the beam lines up with its 'grain'.

The laser's target is still walled off: zap the blobs to clear a beampath.

This reflector constantly changes the direction of any beam passing through it.

Just one of the blobs you've got to zap.

This laser projector's beam hits the mirror above and ricochets harmlessly off screen.