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1987
Arcade: Adventure
£14.95
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

Other Links


76
Andy Wilton
Chris Bourne

Solid exploration from Incentive.

Gas build-ups are no laughing matter - not when they're threatening to blow up one of your home planet's moons, at any rate. The debris from the explosion would make rather a hole in everybody's lifestyle, so you've got to get up there and prevent that big bang by setting up drilling rigs and siphoning off the gas. Its a race against time to find the gas pockets, and there's a lot you'll have to work out for yourself.

The playing area isn't the actual lunar surface - that's far too hostile an environment even for your heavily armoured excavation probe - but rather it's an artificial structure built around, and almost encasing, the moon itself. This structure consists of 18 square sections joined at the edges, but there are still holes you can fall through so you'll have to watch your step.

As you explore the buildings and objects to be found in each section your driver's-eye view of them is in true perspective 3D, with solid colour or texture-filling used on all surfaces. Especially where textures are used, it's not always entirely clear what distant or small objects actually are. The solution's simple here: just trundle up to them and take a look. Tiny dots become cubes or pyramids on closer inspection, and seemingly connected buildings turn out to have narrow - but navigable - alleyways in between.

At first you'll simply want to explore the moon. This is a tough enough task to be getting on with though there are obvious doorways to adjoining sections or into buildings right from the word go, you'll need to find or create others. There's more to this than trundling around and looking: you'll also have to identity various switches, and shoot them with your laser cannons to trip them.

Often switches don't directly create the results you want: some work in groups so you'll have to set all the switches correctly before anything useful happens, while others simply reveal further switches that were previously invisible. There are no general principles here - just shoot and observe.

As you might already have guessed, you aren't the only one who gets to do some shooting. The moon's abandoned security system is still in working order, and its static laser turrets can subject you to withering fire if you stray into their field of view. Fire back and you may knock them out or at least impair them before they drain your shield and destroy you, but some turrets are cannon-proof. You may have to search for another route through here, or simply grit your teeth and run the gauntlet.

Turrets aren't the only hazard at that. An orbiting killer satellite will fire down on you if it gets the chance, while minefields and acid rivers make some routes decidedly dangerous. Large drops can wreck your probe even if they don't plunge you onto the moon below, so simple trenches can't be taken lightly either.

Once you've explored the moon, with the help of the energy and shield crystals around the place, you still have to address the central problem of venting the gas. Positioning drilling rigs is child's play - just teleport them in from your home planet at the press of a key - but you have to know where the gas pockets are. The landscape contains all the information you need, but much of it is in cryptic form - symbols on the ground, messages on walls etc - so you'll need to have your brain in gear.

The realism of the Driller playing area lies not just in the solid 3D graphics used to depict it, but also in the very adventure-like way you can think things up, do them and find they work. There's so much to do beyond the normal; if you find the switch to get the moon's teleport network running, can you work out how to trip it? if you find a spotter plane to fly around in, can you keep it airborne.

Fitting Driller into a pigeonhole is tricky.There are arcade, adventure and logical puzzling elements to the gameplay. while the slow-but-impressive graphics hang some where between Starstrike and The Sentinel. It's bold, dazzlingly original and very playable too, and it deserves to feature prominently in the Yuletide charts.

Reviewer: Andy Wilton

RELEASE BOX
C64/128, £9.95cs, £17.95dk, Dec 87
Spectrum, £14.95cs, £17.95dk, Out Now
Ams, £14.95cs, £17.95dk, Out Now

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 60/100
1 hour: 95/100
1 day: 90/100
1 week: 90/100
1 month: 55/100
1 year: 35/100

The Amstrad's colours give it more instant appeal, but both versions will enthral you once you start to explore the game a bit.

8/10
3/10
8/10
5/10
931/1000

Banner Text

SPECTRUM VERSION

It may only be in mono, but the textures used in the display are still very effective and the screen redraws at a healthy speed making the game that much more playable.

AMSTRAD VERSION

Hard to believe you're only looking at a CPC display, what with the realism this one wrings out of it in places. It may take its time updating the screen, but it's worth the wait.

Graphics: 9/10

Audio: 4/10

IQ Factor: 8/10

Fun Factor: 5/10

Ace Rating: 956/1000

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 80/100

1 hour: 98/100

1 day: 90/100

1 week: 90/100

1 month: 58/100

1 year: 38/100

Screenshot Text

Amstrad: You've found the spotter plane inside its hangar. Dock with it and you can take to the skies!

Amstrad: You're in the jet now, looking back at the excavation probe.

Spectrum: A view from the bridge - impressive even if it is only in mono.

C64: Not a finished version, but these graphics should give you an idea of what to expect.

1. A well defended building - that white pyramid is a gun turret covering the entrance, and shooting it won't get you anywhere.

2. Let's head round the back. Maybe there's a rear way in...

3. ...or maybe those power lines have got something to do with it.