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

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23
Richard Blaine
Chris Bourne

Imagine a sort of cross between Alien 8 and Bobby Bearing, with bits of several other games (notably Gauntlet) tacked on, and you might get some idea of what The Final Matrix is all about.

You control Nimrod, who flies about the galaxy from matrix to matrix. Each one is a sort of mini-prison made up of half a dozen or more screens full of booby traps, alien guards and useful objects (though you'd think the alien guards would have tidied these away by now, wouldn't you?) Somewhere in each matrix is hidden one of your mates, who you have to rescue. Simple, right? As always with this sort of game, wrong.

Graphically, it's barely different to any one of half a dozen other games - semi-3D effect, you look at the layout from the side. Nimrod is a Dusty Bin lookalike, but with a lot more charm and a mean little laser pistol, controlled via keyboard or joystick. The map is built up of square paving stones, with block walls one or two levels higher - fall off the paving stones and you plummet into interstellar space or die. Above the map is a display that tells you how much energy Nimrod has left for himself, and how much he has left for his gun (sexism at work there - no reason why Nimrod can't be a she of course...) and how much time is left - you effectively have 100 earth minutes.

You can jump up onto the walls by running over certain special squares which act like springboards. Other squares repel you, some drain energy, some act like the 'black ice' and so on. Objects include thruster packs that allow Nimrod to jump, mega-zappo-blammo-blasters which can blow away walls and blocks, blocks which can be moved around to act as stepping stones to higher levels, packing cases with ammo in, and TV monitor screens which supply maps of each matrix.

One neat option is to dump each screen to printer - great for the mappers among us! What else! Oh yeah, the more you visit each individual matrix, the tougher the defences get - so try and get in and out in one go.

But, whether or not the plotline is original, and whether or not the graphics echo one or two other games around, the important thing is how good the game is - and The Final Matrix scores very highly here, 'cos it's fabbo, honest. It's also fairly difficult. I think I must have spent more time watching Nimrod getting vaporized that I did actually guiding the little blighter around the matrices. So if you enjoy this sort of game already - and let's face it, you must have seen enough other programs very much like it to know - then you'll love his one.

An excellent arcade adventure in the Ultimate mode - witty, tough and fun to play.

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Screenshot Text

Here on Pludos you'll probably get the easist ride. Manoeuvre Nimrod onto the TV block to have a look at the map, then move him round to the blue/yellow arrow to let him jump up onto the wall above.