Pandora
1987
Arcade: Maze
£8.95
£1.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
None

28,29
Jerry Muir
Chris Bourne

This is the stuff! Pure Alistair Maclean Where Eagles Dare-style. The sort of We-want-a-futile-heroic gesture - in-you-go aw don't-come-back mission that makes the blood run cold.

Somebody has to infiltrate the Nazi headquarters, located in an eight-storey castle. That somebody is you, suicidally solo and armed only with a rifle and limited ammo. And of course the place is crawling with stormtroopers.

There are three saboteurs to find, held somewhere in the dungeons. You have to liberate the commandant's private collection of antiquities. And, if you can see your way to doing it, the allies wouldn't mind if you blew the base into a billion pieces with a well timed explosion before leaving!

This is the sort of game that you play with a stiff upper lip, a supple joystick wrist and burnt cork all over your face.

Behind the gung-ho heroic plot lies a single-player Gauntlet-style program, and one that surprises its medieval inspiration.

For a start, the graphics are bigger. Bigger, yes, but clever planning has all but avoided attribute problems. Quite how they've done it I'm not sure, but it's almost like those notorious clashes don't exist. The scenery's pretty atmospheric as well, with dark corridors, iron doors which require keys, wooden ones which can be shot away, officials at desks... You really have a sense of being in the thick of it. There are even toilet cubicles, which you can blast open!

Despite this detail, the landscape still scrolls. It's not a continuous, smooth scroll - it only moves when you reach the edge of the screen - but the programmers have played fair and, providing you keep your finger on the trigger, you should have time to nix and Nazis as they appear on-screen.

The other main difference from Gauntlet is gameplay. While the swords and sorcery epic concentrates on slashing and blasting, there's much more strategy to Eagle's Nest. Direct contact with the Hun adds fatal hits at a drastic rate. If you're to survive for any length of time you'll hand around corners and make full use of narrow passages, taking pot shots as they charge you.

You'll also need to make a map, because not all rooms are useful, while some routes take you back on yourself, and you won't want to dawdle in these surroundings. It's worth noting where the supplies of food and life-restoring medicine are, as well as the ammo boxes, because few things are more embarrassing than finding yourself surrounded by the Bosh without a bullet to your name.

Like all the best infiltration epics, the secret of success is a clear plan of action. Don't stand around when you don't need to and don't get involved in unnecessary battles.

However many of the enemy you take out, more will always appear. Most importantly, don't wander aimlessly from level to level, because when you return you'll find that all the doors you carefully opened are shut again, making the trek to the stairs even more hazardous.

Finally, salute the touches that mark out the care taken with this program. You can choose between silence, 48K sound or enhanced 128K music and effects.

There's also a Load Data option on the opening menu's, so that new adventures can be launched at a later date.

All in all it's quite a pleasant jaunt into occupied territory, Gauntlet-style.

We've not heard much from Interceptor recently, but into the Eagle's Nest is a great way to launch their Pandora label. The action isn't quite so frantic as Gauntlet's, as it's geared to tip-toeing secretly round, but it's fast enough and the strategic elements should give it a longer life.

Accept this mission and buy this game.

Label: Pandora
Author: Kevin Parker and Robin Chapman
Price: £8.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Jerry Muir

*****

A Gauntlet-style game that outdoes the original with great graphics and strategic gameplay. Terrific fun - buy it.

5/5

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HINTS AND TIPS

Don't waste ammunition. You're limited to 99 rounds at a time and it taken two shots to kill a soldier, so don't blast mindlessly.

Us your resources carefully. Don't try to collect ammo beyond the 99 rounds limit, and don't collect first aid kits if you're in good health.

If you waste keys in the early stages, you may find you can't complete the mission.

Make good use of cover. Shelter behind oil drums rather than blasting them all out of the way, then shoot round them. The Nazis are fairly dumb and will charge into your hail of bullets!