US Gold Ltd
1988
Arcade: Maze
£8.99
Multiple languages (see individual downloads)
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

84,85
Kati Hamza, Phil King, Paul Sumner
Chris Bourne

The evil Kairos has kidnapped the entire infant population and imprisoned them in his castle. Mac, hero of the coin-op, Halls of Kairos, is called into immediate action.

His quest takes place over five levels (multiloaded on the 48K) within the monochrome passages of the vertically scrolling fortress, which are viewed from above.

A charm has imprisoned the children in the many mirrors hanging from the castle walls. They are saved by punching the mirror panels and collecting the toddlers as they are released.

Progress is impeded by Kairos and his cronies; henchmen absorb energy on contact, firemen fire flame shots and swordsmen throw a continuous volley of sharpened knives. Mac's dwindling energy is shown by a bar at the top of the screen.

Initially, Mac has no armour and can only fight hand to hand. By punching rolling barrels and collecting bomb icons, however, he can improve his weapon power. Picking up six infants temporarily transforms vulnerable Mac into invulnerable Machoman; for a few moments he can march through the castle without fear of harm.

Points are boosted by collecting a series of treasures. Points possessed on capturing these determine exactly how much Mac's score improves or the strength of enemy forces changes.

At the end of each level, Mac encounters a particularly daunting set of enemies. These have to be killed before he can move on to the next.

CRITICISM

'Another maze game with little to amaze. The presentation is competent enough and the generally uninteresting graphics have one or two nice little touches. Unfortunately the gameplay doesn't offer much to get excited about - hand to hand combat soon becomes tedious but, other than a few bombs, there's no real alternative. A greater selection of weapons might have boosted the game's waning appeal. Exploration, another essential Ingredient of maze games, is glaringly absent here. The castle simply scrolls upwards, so your route through its forbidding chambers and passageways is more or less predetermined. There are plenty of excellent Gauntlet-type games around so there really isn't much excuse for producing one as bland and standard as this. If your quest is for a mazegame, seek elsewhere.' KATI ... 58%

'Graphically Desolator is great. Every character is very detailed and moves around realistically. The game may be monochrome, but that doesn't detract from the smart visual Impression. Desolator does however lack the speed that is required to make it an action-packed game. It takes what seems like an eternity to cross the play area, and Mac's actions are very slow reacting to frantic keyboard presses. This is where Desolator, which could have been a great game, turns into a very average one. Less characters and more speed would have created a winning formula for Desolator. (Which is presumably why it was so successful in the arcades.) But it not only lacks playability, but also addictiveness - not really worth nine pounds.' PAUL ... 60%

'The perspective in Desolator is rather strange, but although the playing area is entirely monochromatic, the nicely shaded graphics do create a feeling of solidity. There are plenty of well animated enemies to vanquish and the action is fairly frantic. Sound is unfortunately limited to spot effects with no tunes (even on the 128K). Despite all the various types of enemy, the gameplay is very similar for each level, simply punching the nasties while collecting treasure and extra energy. This repetition spoils the overall lastability. The game is fairly well presented but lacks that vital ingredient which would have made it more addictive.' PHIL ... 63%

COMMENTS
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: monochromatic and very detailed - well animated
Sound: average spot effects, but lacking a tune
Options: definable keys
General Rating: An attractive, but restrictive, maze game.

70%
65%
60%
58%
60%

Screenshot Text

Roll out the barrel...