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Gem Software
1984
Arcade: Action
£4.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

Other Links


98,99
Chris Bourne

Disco Dan might be described as a 'Q-Bert' style game with a few differences, which makes playing it quite a change from others of a similar ilk. For a start off, it is a two-screen game. The scenario makes you wonder what the title has to do with the game since it says you are Dan, sent into reactors in space which have gone unstable. In the first screen you must dance your way along a 3D corridor, avoiding hazards to reach the reactor room. Once there the 'Q-Bert' bit takes over. The reference to disco only bears examination in that the roundels which must be jumped on look like pools of coloured disco lights. Still, who cares? The game is fun.

In screen 1 the 3D corridor is effected by rectangles of mauve moving outwards from the dark centre. Disco Dan stands at the bottom of the screen and may move left or right to dodge the various hazards like potholes, which drain his energy, mutant pacmen which swerve after him and kill, and dotted force lines, which also kill. These last two hazards can be jumped. Energy loss is shown as a falling multi-coloured bar at the base of the display area. Surviving the corridor for a sufficiently long time results in reaching the core of the reactor and the screen cuts to a new scene.

Here there are five rows of staggered roundels (seen in perspective) with five roundels in each row. These represent the unstable rods of fuel. They have eight states before they explode, designated by colour and a number. Safe is green (0), and then variously cyan, blue, mauve, yellow, white and red (6). When a red 6 starts flashing it is about to explode and the flashing 6 vanishes when the rod has gone. Disco Dan is lowered into the reactor on a tractor beam and he must then jump about from disc to disc, changing their colours with each jump. The aim is to get them all to green, in which state they remain stable. Unfortunately all the discs (unless they're green) are quite rapidly changing upwards. If Dan lands on an exploded disc it drains energy. There are vagrant atoms jumping about as well, and these speed up the change of colours, as well as draining energy from Dan on contact. Later screens increase the number of atoms and bring Ron the Rapacious Robot into play as well - a real killer!

What makes this screen different from 'Q-Bert' games is not only the difficulty of keeping a check on 25 discs through seven stages of colour deterioration, but also the fact that Dan can jump up, down (diagonally) but also left and right along a line. This is done by rotating left/right and jumping.

Surviving the reactor core means Dan must run along another corridor and on to a second reactor. The elements in the game speed up and the hazards multiply.

CRITICISM

'The first screen is relatively simple to get through, although on the higher levels you are jumping about all over the place to avoid the pacmen. But the second screen is quite hard and requires good co-ordination because the rotation aspect of control is tricky. It's also important to keep the red discs from exploding since you can quite easily get trapped in a corner, surrounded by reds and unable to get at any of the other discs. I thought the graphics were rather good, the sound is excellent, especially the tune, and the game is a tough, addictive one to play.'

'The first screen seems pretty easy at first, just jumping over obstacles as they come towards you. But as the game progresses it gets harder and there are more pacmen, which are the most difficult objects to avoid as they swerve towards you. The second screen is a very high speed and updated 'Q-Bert' type game. I like the idea of the atoms changing the colours of your reactor discs, and the whole thing is against the clock. What confuses the whole issue, though, is the way you rotate to face the way you want to jump - not that I'm complaining about this point, it's what makes the game different and tough. Your man is very nicely drawn and moves quickly and smoothly. Atoms and droids are also drawn exceptionally well. You are provided with a weapon to fire at them. This doesn't seem so important on early screen, but when the discs fill up with atoms and droids, it becomes essential to keep them at bay. They aren't killed off, merely incapacitated for a moment. A good game and at its price, great value.'

'Sound, tunes, use of colour and graphics are very good throughout this highly playable game. I like the way the discs are numbered, as well as coloured, in the second part of the game. Because of its speed, this 'Q-Bert'ish variation is very panicky in playing. There are some very neat graphical touches like the way your man is teleported on to a disc and off, and this may happen anywhere when he has completed his task. This game has a marvellous demo mode, one which actually wants to win and plays cleverly. Not only does this give you a perfect insight into how to play, but it's also fun to watch. Excellent value.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: Bottom row=fire, P=jump, Q/W rotate left/right
Joystick: Kempston, AGF, Protek
Keyboard play: very responsive, although tricky to get the hang of the rotation
Use of colour: good
Graphics: good to very good
Sound: continuous, good
Skill levels: progressive difficulty
Lives: 5
Screens: 2
General Rating: Different, difficult, good addictivity and very good value.

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Screenshot Text

Arriving by teleport, Disco Dan prepares to get down and boogie...

Hopping from rod to rod is a frenzied business, especially with two vagrant atoms changing all the colours back again - two sixes are about to start flashing.