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Destiny Software
1988
Arcade: Maze
£7.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Unspecified custom loader

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23
Mark Caswell, Nick Roberts, Phil King
Chris Bourne

SEAL UP PRISON SHIPS AND TOAST THE INMATES

Stand by to be confused! Here comes one of those stones you thought went out of fashion with old Quicksilva and the 'Faluvian Empire'.

Malik and the Wardens patrolled the system of Luma. Their terror ships were sent out to enforce the Doctrine of Zan, but their services were only needed once - to quell an uprising amid the outer planets. In a brief and bloody battle, many were killed but many more were taken prisoner.

The authorities herded the ' convicts on to five large ships and set them in orbit around Zia, a dark, uninhabited planet. They remained there for hundreds of years, until one terrible night, five new stars appeared in Zan's sky. By a freak chance the prison ships had returned. Not only were the prisoners alive, they had been mutated by strogenic regeneration (don't ask) and transformed into monstrous shadows of their former selves. Are you still with me? Good, the point is, all of them were eager for revenge.

Only the Supertronic, a craft (here comes the punch-line-ED) as strong as a DIAMOND, is able to seal up the prison ships' exits until other plans can be made. Supertronic can change shape to suit a particular task: four modes - Hibar, Solar, Killer and Rovar - can be chosen at will. Hibar shuts down shipboard systems, leaving the craft drifting inert (this mode is automatically engaged when a Supertronic has zero power), Solar powers up the ship, Killer activates the weapons systems, and Rovar Mode is used to seal exits.

A ship is deemed secure once all exits have been sealed; any escaped prisoners can be disposed of, earning extra points.

A map of the current ship is available. Travel around its hull is achieved by running over a Warp Blaster, which shoots you to a different point in space, settling on a Landing and Take Off Pad, which give access to different parts of the hull, or by passing a Polarity Reverser, which changes the direction of the signs on the pathways. So seal up those exits good and tight or before long huge monsters will have taken over your planet.

It's going to take me a fair while to work my way around all five prison ships, but that's OK because - unlike Nick - I think Diamond is worth the effort. As many of the walkways only allow movement in one direction there's a strong element of strategy is involved; unless you watch out, you may get well and truly stuck. Overall, Diamond is a playable arcade-cum-strategy game-and it's a lot, lot cheaper than the real gem!

MARK … 79%

THE ESSENTIALS
Joysticks: Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: detailed but monochromatic
Sound: squeak, blip, drone
Options: definable keys

CRITICISM

'Diamonds sparkle, but this game certainly doesn't - it's awful! The sprites are uninteresting, set on a background that is far too detailed. When the gaping holes fire bubbles at you, the whole concoction is just a mess! Here's a game crying out for some decent colours, but no such luck; monochrome is all you get (and that changes into the most garish colours). Remember the old BEEP command? Well, that's the sound. Diamond is just a recipe for disaster, steer clear!' NICK ... 30%

'One of the strangest aspects is the existence of five player's ships at once, allowing them to help each other by transferring power from a strong to a weak ship. This creates a strategic atmosphere as it's essential to keep the four unused ships on solar power. Even though all levels have an identical prison ship, they're graded, so there's plenty to do. It's an intriguing mix of arcade and strategy, and refreshing to see such a playable and original game ... so tough doobries Nick!' PHIL ... 76%

General Rating: A sparkling and unusual variation on the traditional shoot-'em-up - despite Nick...

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If energy gets low, take the current Supertronic to the outside of the playing and put it in Solar mode. Then switch to another ship.

If a Supertronic loses all its energy, find it -using a fully-powered ship - and transfer some energy. Go to the crippled ship to switch it to Solar mode.

Try and ensure that all four Supertronics are in Solar mode.

Use shields when near enemy guns, and try and close the holes as quickly as possible.

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Aaaargh - we're lost.