Mikro-Gen Ltd
1986
Arcade: Maze
£9.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Unspecified custom loader

31
Graham Taylor
Chris Bourne

Equinox does not feature any members of the Wally family. For this at least, some of us are glad.

It is, instead, a collect-and-dodge game of vast proportions. Were games judged on the sheer volume of bouncing and splurging sprites alone the game would be a winner. As it is Equinox contains nothing new. There is much to enjoy but nothing to admire.

The plot is to clear a number of levels of unstable nuclear cannisters, which are liable to blow up. On each level the time left before that level's cannister explodes ticks away at the top of the screen.

Quite apart from the problem of finding the cannister and discovering how to travel from one level to the other, there are bouncing monsters of many species including splogy jelly, a cute penguin, orbs, hair standing on end thing, and the particularly popular 'oh God I can't think of anything else and I was supposed to have this game delivered last week' programmers 'please yourself' abstract shapes.

And, all of them bounce determinedly.

The thought part of the game derives initially from trying to discover what objects when combined together do what. Some of these links are obvious, eg stone blocking passages and sticks of dynamite. Some less so, eg blue spheres and teleport type devices. In the end though, the game is too much of the too familiar.

Label: Mikro-Gen
Price: £9.95
Joystick: Kempston
Memory: 48K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

*****

Smooth, big sprites, but little originality. Equinox is only for addicts of the collect-and-dodge genre.

5/5

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ASSORTED CLUES AND TIPS

1) Dynamite blows away problem rubble.

2) Blue tokens pay for same level transporter use.

3) Keys unlock doors (there's a surprise).

4) The first cannister is somewhere behind the rubble as are a number of other useful objects.

5) You need to find a drill almost immediately in order to get the dynamite.

6) To use a transporter: Get Token, Enter Transporter, Use Token, Press Thrust.

PLAYING AREA

One of those vast mazes constructed of what looks like chrome and steel with lots of straight edges and a few twiddly bits - a bit like the inside of an air conditioning duct. There are big central rooms and small passages.

Placed around this sleek high-tech background there are some rather Heath Robinesque objects like a giant old fashioned magnet and some inelegantly constructed teleports. There are laser barriers, locked doors, switches and occasional large monsters (which do not bounce but merely blink a single bloodshot eye) strewn of the levels.

PLAYING THE GAME

Large silver canisters must be located and dumped down the waste disposal accessed via the transporter near the opening screen You'll soon realise part of the technique of playing the game is knowing when to leave a level for a while (thereby halting it's timer) to return to it later. Some problems can only be solved by collecting objects from one level and using them on another.

Controls are, left, right, thrust, collect/use, fire. The moment you start moving the timer for the cannister on the current level starts ticking, seconds later in true Ultimate style the assorted aliens materialise. Guess what you do to them. Repeatedly. Next you start to pick up objects and carry them around, fruitlessly pressing the Use button in all the wrong places until finally something happens. The first thing you'll probably discover a use for will be the Smart bomb - it has a big S on it. There are two kinds of teleport between areas on the same level and between levels. To get between levels you need a passcard, the higher the level the higher the card number necessary, ie Passcard 8 will get you into all the levels, Passcard 2, only into Levels 1 and 2.

Screenshot Text

Dodge the assorted nasties. Exit right for inter-level transport.

Find a drill to get the dynamite. The magnet gets you nowhere. No way out of this screen but left.

In position the same level transportation. Behind the barrier beam wall lurks a cutesy sprite. Joystick up to use transport.