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Arcade: Maze
ZX Spectrum 48K
Firebird BleepLoad

Phil South
Chris Bourne

It's a difficult thing reviewing sequels, no matter how good they are, 'cos you always find yourself comparing it to the original and that's bound to be a bad thing. It's going to be better anyway, 'cos it was probably written by the men who did the original, incorporating the things they couldn't fit in the first one. So how a sequel stands up on its own, had the first game not come out, is hard to tell. In the end comparison is inevitable, but let's see if we can get by without it... (whistle).. nope. It can't be helped. Here goes!

Quazatron was a spiffing game, where a little robot called KLP-2 nipped round a space station, destroying the rogue robots inside, to make it safe for humans to board. Although it was very absorbing, I still left there was something missing in the gameplay. In Magnetron, the same little robot, this time with a "unique talent for taking things to bits," is doing a similar job on eight droid controlled satellites, orbiting the planet Quartech. Like Quazatron, the game takes place in a sort of 3D isometric view of the playing area, and you control KLP-2's movements along the platforms and slides of each satellite. His objective is to deactivate all four reactors on each satellite, rendering the megaplasma destructor beam weapons useless.

The method used for liquidating the robots is either by zapping them with whatever weapon you have to hand, or by grappling. Grappling is a concept unique to these "tron" games, whereby KLP-2 latches himself onto a robot of his choice, and then the player plays a little logic game to decide who wins the grapple. If the player wins, KLP-2 takes over the weapons and security clearance of the enemy robot. If the player loses the logic game, then both KLP-2 and the grappled droid explode and that's all folks! The logic/subgame is quite simple really, a bit like those little plastic number puzzles where you slide the tiles around until all the figures are in descending order. You know the drill. Well, it's like that, only you've got a time limit and if you don't get it right, you end up as a cloud of rapidly expanding metal shards and a nasty grease spot on the deck!

Magnetron is that ram breed of game, a sequel which is better than the original. The graphics and sound are the usual high quality we expect from Steve Turner, and enhance what is already a brilliant game. 'Delightful' is a word that springs to mind, but p'raps that's a bit prissy. Okay, so it just looks like a random shoot 'em up, but don't be put off by appearances. There's a lot to it, and it's an easy game to learn, but a very hard one to beat!

An absorbing and clever shoot 'em up with all the hardness of Quazatron and more problems than the cast of Dallas.