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

34
Chris Bourne

A far flung mining asteroid, Sury Ani 7, becomes contaminated with radioactive waste. The miners abandon it in great haste for fear of radiation poisoning, but the asteroid contains valuable mineral resources and the authorities are reluctant to abandon the mining operations with so much material yet to be extracted. No living being can survive the high radiation levels in the mines, and the Powers That Be are faced with a serious problem. Eventually, a Dedicated Disposal Droid is sent into the depths of the asteroid to deal with the deadly radioactive canisters that are the root of the problem.

This would be a relatively simple mission for a Disposal Droid but for one thing: in their haste to flee the contaminated asteroid, the mining staff forgot to turn off the security system. The abandoned mining colony is now an almost impenetrable fortress guarded by multi-coloured Security Droids programmed to materialise next to any intruder the system detects. The Security Droids don't destroy your droid instantly, but clashes with Security Droids result in small explosions as bits of Disposal Droid are scattered around the mining system. Three lives are provided at the start of the game, and once these have been lost the mission is terminated unsuccessfully. The Security Droids are not invincible. DDD is equipped with a powerful laser which is more than adequate for blasting the Security Droids into the hereafter. Unfortunately, Security Droids seem to have trouble staying dead, and rematerialise shortly after they've been zapped.

Once the radioactive canisters have been located they must be disposed of. The only way to make sure the glowing isotopes inside the canisters don't re-contaminate the asteroid is to sling them down a disposal chute into a lead lined safe room below. There are eight levels on Sury Ani 7, and each one must be cleared of the troublesome canisters before work can begin on the next level. A time limit is involved - one canister on each level is particularly unstable and has to be dumped in the disposal chute before it explodes taking you and the asteroid with it.

The Disposal Droid has a variety of methods for moving around the mine system. Apart from the conventional upwards, downwards and side to side manoeuvres, it has a retro-thrust - a sort of Turbocharger that is very useful for making a quick getaway from Security Droids. The retro-thrust unit demands large amounts of fuel, and if the Droid suffers fuel starvation for too long, it explodes. Batteries can be collected to replenish energy.

Movement between certain locations is possible via teleporters - there is a small charge for using these. One droid life is exchanged for a cyan teleport credit which can be obtained from the credit dispensers. The trans-level transporter ensures safe passage between mining levels, but numbered level passes have to be collected before inter-level transportation is permitted. Access is only granted if the droid has a pass with a number less than or equal to the number of the level you want to travel to.

A status area at the top of the screen monitors progress. A window to the left acts as the inventory; the next window shows how many lives remain while a third window shows the score, based on the number of canisters and Security Droids eliminated. A row of coloured squares shows how much time is left before the unstable canisters explode, while fuel and laser energy supplies are indicated on a bar display.

What sort of Droid Driver are you?

CRITICISM

'After the mediocre Battle Of The Planets, Mikro-Gen have gone back to their old 'lots of colour' policy and it seems to have worked well. The graphics are superb and it's obvious that a lot of time has gone into fitting all the aliens and scenery into character squares, thus avoiding attribute problems. The sound effects are sparse, but what is there is very effective and suits the play well. This is a very playable game because all the problems can be solved with common sense, and the shoot em up element is great as well.'

'Gosh! I like this game. If I hadn't been cheating, I'm sure it would have been very difficult, but as it was, I thought it was great fun. The graphics are colourful and well animated, and the sound is reasonable, but the title tune is even better. The instructions within the game are excellently done, and overall, Mikro-Gen have come up with another product that is simply excellent, very playable, and addictive.'

'At first sight Equinox looks and 'feels' similar to Starquake - you are playing in the same sort of area. The game itself isn't as playable as it could be because shooting up the nasties to clear a path for yourself can be very testing as your laser isn't very effective. The graphics are nicely animated and detailed; the backgrounds are colourful, yet I couldn't spot any colour clash. The sound is very good, with some spot effects during the game and an excellent tunette on the title screen. Equinox takes a little getting used to, but once you do it is great fun, although I'm not sure that I'd be all that pleased about forking out ten quid for it.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: A use, M fire, Q thrust, O left, P right, 3 pause
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2
Keyboard play: responsive
Use of colour: carefully and cleverly done
Graphics: very pretty, neat animation
Sound: good, but a little sparse
Skill levels: one
Screens: 128
General Rating: A very well produced shoot em up adventure.

88%
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87%

Screenshot Text

Super Droid has just killed a Security Guard, and it explodes in a shimmer of metallic bits. Cameron's a real action photographer, you know.

The Disposal Droid has pass problems in the transporter zone - the right pass card is vital if travel between levels is to be achieved.