1987
Arcade: Maze
£7.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

112
Mike Dunn, Ben Stone, Richard Eddy
Chris Bourne

Our hero, Nimrod the Biopton, has been called upon to rescue his fellow Bioptons. Captured by a bunch of unfriendly Cratons, the hapless Bioptons have been taken hostage, and locked them away in the matrix, a network of prison planets.

Despite all the miracles of technology, molecular transfer (ie, 'beam them up, Scotty ') hasn't come about yet, so Nimrod is required to toddle off into this potential death-trap all by himself in an attempt to rescue the captives.

The matrix spreads over a vast area of the galaxy, but since its extent is unknown, the first task is to locate matrix planets and then infiltrate them. The Bioptons have been scattered throughout the matrix, so Nimrod is going to be visiting several planets. Locations is achieved by using a display monitor called the Pentavision, which identities matrix planets. The on-screen-sights can be manoeuvred so they centre over a planet, and then Nimrod is transported to its surface.

Once down, the hunt for the hostage is on. The display switches to an unusual isometric view, scrolling horizontally or vertically depending on Nimrod's direction, and if that isn't to be aimless he might be thankful for a map. Fortunately Craton telly isn't all it's cracked up to be, just map programmes for entertainment, but seeing one isn't so easy... Cratons appear to look down on their TVs from a great height. This forces Nimrod to stand on top of the monitor to look at the map. Lucky for him, then, that upward thrust-paks are available to propel him into the air so long as he approaches from the right direction.

Having located the hostage, Nimrod can return to the launch point, fellow Biopton in tow, and escape. The return route through the maze is indicated on a scanner top-right of the screen. Of course, the Cratons don't sit idly by, the matrix is littered with guards who are all on the offensive. Nimrod does have limited firepower at the outset, but the Cratons are a touch careless, and if searches, powerful weapons such as megabolts are to be found lying around.

The matrix planet maze is represented in different shades of one colour, each with their own effect. To succeed the style of floor designs, and their effects, should be remembered, for in addition to the patroling guards, there are mines, energy draining blocks, black ice and lethal disruptors.

Nimrod's mission isn't going to be easy, but he does have 99 eons to do it in; unfortunately, one Biopton eon is equal to only one of our minutes. Ho hum...

CRITICISM

'Take it from me, The Final Mainz is a ruthless game-so if you're not planning to spend quite a while practising then you may as well ignore it. However, and here's the crunch, It's a really addictive and highly exciting game. There's plenty of content, but it's very well presented and so not too daunting to play. Graphically, Matrix is quite odd, but nonetheless pleasing to the eye. The display remains consistently clear, although the way the screen scrolls (not til you reach the very edge of a screen) can be off-putting when a guard suddenly appears from nowhere. It's a neat entertainment that offers quite a bit to experienced games players.' RICKY

'As an arcade adventure, The Final Matrix presents some extremely devious puzzles and a whole host of planets to explore. The graphics are strange in that they use an unorthodox, overhead viewpoint rather than the normal 3D perspective; this looks odd, but works unusually well. The backdrops are neat and clearly presented, with a good use of colour, although the scrolling is a bit on the jerky side. Those who persevere will no doubt find a worthwhile challenge in Matrix, but be prepared to spend a lot of time going to and from the title screen: it's tough.' MIKE

'I'm sure that this would be much better suited to Gremlin's five quid semi-budget price tag than nearer eight pounds. Having said this, The Final Matrix is a very original and versatile game. My only nag is that it's much too difficult, a first time player would be lucky to survive for more than a few seconds, and after playing for a considerable time I'm still having trouble progressing through the game at all. Generally this is well presented both graphically and sonically - a tune and a title screen wouldn't go amiss though...' BEN

COMMENTS
Control keys: definable
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2
Use of colour: monochromatic playing area
Graphics: fast in space, tidy and unusual 3D on planets
Sound: good general (and spot) FX
Skill levels: one
Screens: space screen and large scrolling surface play area
General Rating: This unusual and addictive game presents a very tough challenge.

72%
76%
65%
79%
65%
75%

Screenshot Text

On board his craft, Nimrod consults the Pentavision for clues as to the whereabouts of a matrix prison planet.

The unusually high isometric style 3D display of The Final Matrix when down on a planet's surface.