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Ocean Software Ltd
1986
Arcade: Adventure
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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48
Rick Robson
Chris Bourne

Maelstrom is a post punk Postman Pat. In the true spirit of Wells Fargo, your task in this icon driven adventure is to make sure the mail gets through. Thing is, the hazards you face are a shade more formidable than a yapping Yorkie or a missing postcode. For this is post North Sea oil Britain, run by criminals out to do their darndest to marmalise your mail van.

Indeed, despite its innocent red outside, this mail van has a more sophisticated armoury than an F-111. Worse still, it's driven by the menacing Michael Nasty. The controlling heart of the game and the van is SKIT - Special Knowledge and information Terminal - or the icon menu to us plebs. This allows you to pause, quit, check your van damage, how much mail you've collected and how to get in and out of the van.

Once inside the van, you're generally safe. But, of course, you're going to have to step outside once in a while to pick up tho mail from the sorting office. Numbers light up at the bottom of the screen telling you where to deliver, though you don't have to worry about complicated things like street names.

You'll also have to get sacks from post boxes. The more you get back to the 'in' section of the sorting office, the more mail you'll get - and the higher your target sack number will be for that day. Fail to achieve that and you're sacked (her bar!) and the game's over.

On your jolly rounds you can run over baddies but avoid the innocents, else you'll tot up licence points or worse, the police'll appear to cart you off. Damage sustained can always be rectified at the Hospital, though.

Mailstrom seems to fall between stools - it's neither wacky enough to be a mickey-take, nor does it take itself seriously enough to be a real puzzling adventure. Despite its wry humour and its neat scenario there are long tracts of boredom, 'cos it's just so slow, even when in super pursuit mode. For me, Mailstrom just fails to deliver.

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