Melbourne House
1987
Arcade: Solo beat-em-up
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

70
Graham Taylor
Chris Bourne

Doc the Destroyer, lone superhero, is kicked out of the Domed City. This is because the Domed City is doomed but the inhabitants resent the dogooding Doc telling them so.

Looks like Doc is doomed too. Is Domed doomed? is Doc doomed, dumb and sure to be deemed dead? It's up to you.

Doc is a rather inventive mixture of kicky-facey game, animated graphic adventure and role-playing extravaganza. Not just violence but intelligence and wit and courage required too. Kicking with confidence in fact.

The game is controlled totally via joystick - from the selection of actions via a menu option to thumping various baddies over the head and there are essentially two fairly distinct elements to the gameplay.

First the decision-making game which works roughly like the likes of Adrian Mole. A scene is described and you have around half a dozen options - directions you might go in. actions you might take, eg Explore. It's usually possible to make some sort of intelligent guess about what the best choice to make. Here's a handy tip - peculiar old men in rooms full of books are almost always goodies and usually bestow mystic objects of great worth, and it's therefore a good idea not to kill them.

At various times (about one every three choices on the average it seemed to me) what you decide to do - even if it was the 'right' choice in some sense - will cause you to immediately become involved in a battle. This is the part two - the bit that works like Exploding Fist albeit with reduced options. Basically you can move left and right and hit high, low or swing with a club. The Sprites are quite well done, quite large and quite detailed with pleasing animation - similar to Fighting Warrior, a previous Melbourne House game. Less impressive is the background on which the fighting takes place - there isn't any. Not a sausage. just blank empty space. The baddies change however. Although there is a standard thug you also get to fight Yorkshire terriers and slugs (at least that's what they look like). Don't be lulled into a false sense of security - I've never made it past the Yorkshire terriers yet.

Doc the Destroyer is nevertheless a pretty impressive game. Partly because the scenario is quite varied and partly because the number of alternatives presented even quite early on in the game is large - there are a lot of decisions to be made. The fighting part works fairly well although some of the time I felt I'd just been dumped into conflict for no reason, ie, it was just bad luck rather than poor judgment.

Doc the Destroyer is neither devastating nor a dodo. But it is a bit of a change and in its own terms it works well.

Also, the programmers have taken some efforts to hide the essentially visually dull nature of the text parts by presenting them as scrolling in a speech bubble belonging to a giant warrior face.

Level 9 please note for future Adrian Mole or Archer type programs: this is the way to do it.

Label: Melbourne House
Author: Beam Software
Price: £7.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

****

Interesting mixture of arcade bash-em-up and choice-based text adventure. Good fun and quite an intricate plot.

4/5