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1986
Adventure: Graphic
£9.99
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes

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34
Chris Bourne

Here's a surprise. Out of the blue come an absolutely marvellous game from Electric Dreams.

At least judging from the press material we've received, it seems Hijack is the 'other game' being released at about the same time as the same company's appalling, sexist and pathetic-in-every-way Mermaid Madness.

It deserves better, being very original, cleverly structured, witty and (here comes that word again) addictive.

Hijack is a very sophisticated mixture of decision making management game and adventure, played using large animated figures and icons. A school bus has been hijacked by terrorists and you're in the hot seat trying to save them. Mostly you give orders but they aren't always carried out. There are those who, for reasons of political expendiency, will ditch you if things go wrong. Somehow you have to juggle with the FBI, CIA, the military, even the press office to get the hijack victims safely home.

Beyond the bare fact that there has been a hijack, you start the game knowing nothing. Not even, it seems, some of the security codes for doors in your own building ...

The most important element in the game is dealing with the various members of staff at your disposal. Seeking them out and giving them appropriate orders is the key to the game. This being the world of realpolitick though, the amount of help and enthusiasm you get will vary according to who, why and what you want. The key is to play one department off against another and still somehow keep everyone on the same side.

The centre of the screen depicts the various rooms of your headquarters: it's here the events in the game unfold. You and the other staff are represented by the same biggish, well animated sprites. When you enter a new office or somebody enters your office an icon outline of that person lights up, indicating they are available for conversation.

On selecting that person via the icon system you get a menu of options, only some of which are likely to be available at any one point in the game. So, you may tell the FBI agent to question a member of staff. You might request political, financial or military support from the President. Or you could issue some sort of press statement (if you don't keep the press at least moderately well informed they start turning nasty and the President gets upset).

There are a number of rooms in your building, some are connected by lift - which you have to wait for - others require the discovery of various electronic door codes. These can be uncovered in memos, notices and other odd places around the building. Then the problem becomes: what number is for what door? Likewise there are codes to gain access to the various computers scattered around the building - some of them containing vital information about the current state of the hijack.

Gradually through a mixture of hunting around the building, questioning staff, getting up-dates on current events and deploying the right kinds of forces in the right way, you may start to turn events in the hijack your way.

Be quick - time is the one thing you don't have.

Label: Electric Dreams
Author: David Shea, Mark Eyles
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer:

*****

A post-Watergate conspiracy thriller of great originality. Terrific sound and graphics too. A winner.

5/5

Banner Text

SOUND AND GRAPHICS

Surprisingly good. The various staff members, though all looking much the same, are well animated with a fair degree of realism walking. The icon display system on the screen borders is very effective. Unusually, the icons actually look like the things they are supposed to represent.

More surprising still, the sound is really effective. It's limited to sound effects mostly - doors opening, bleeps on number pads, that sort of thing - but it works well. A lot of effort has been put into even this small detail.

HINTS AND TIPS

At various points you will be given important information, ranging from entry codes, to financial resources, to details of terrorist groups - their aims and motivation. Keep a careful note of everything you discover.

Entry codes may not always refer to the nearest door or computer. Build up a list of them and try each one in turn.

Learn the lift layout. Bear in mind that their movement pattern is not simply up one floor, down one floor - you'll have to work it out.

Your first priority should be research. Who are the hijackers? What do they want? What are their motives? This information will help you formulate A Plan.

Having decided on a general course of action, say, diplomatic rather than military pressure, stick to it. Whatever course you choose will alienate some part of your staff but chopping and changing means everybody will probably eventually turn against you.

Try not to upset your staff. Don't ignore them and try to deal with them all evenly.

If, the President is busy, don't bother him too much.

How employees respond to your instructions reflects their mood. This can give important clues to weaknesses in the way you are handling the situation.

Screenshot Text

The clock. It shows the time left for the hostages. Below it is the lift arrival indicator.

The members of your staff. Highlighted faces mean that person has entered the room.

Lift doors, arrows indicating directions of travel. Wait until one arrives then move in.

The cursor arrow used to highlight the screen icon you are currently controlling.

Screen shows what objects if any you are holding.

Bar graphs showing current status (+ or -) of, respectively, military, financial and political power.

Screen shows what, if anything is in your current location.

Filing cabinets may contain useful information. Including codes to security doors and computers.