Probe Software Ltd
1986
Arcade: Action
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
SpeedLock 2

115
Chris Bourne

Well aren't you the bloodthirsty little mercenary? After years of zapping, splatting, maiming and killing persons as a hitman operating illegally, you've finally been given the licence to go legal as the State has recognised your 'talents' and awarded you Bounty Hunter status.

Being in another class to the majority of inept kill-merchants employed by the State, you decide to go straight to the top and search out four extremely notorious thugs hiding on planet Zybor. Xtro II, Ariel Head, Maz Porka and Yokohama are a quartet of particularly vicious people who would soon as kill a man as look at him. Their redeeming feature, from your point of view, is the 100,000 credit bounty placed upon their ugly heads.

The official bounty hunter's kill kit includes a Mantronix: a relatively nasty cyborg that is controlled remotely by its supervisor. The main advantage over sending in a Mantronix as opposed to a real man is that if a energy blast hits it, the Mantronix won't be splurged into a mish mash of blood and string bits over the surrounding square kilometre. A Mantronix hit by an energy burst merely loses one of his nine supplied shields.

Remaining safely in your craft, placed in geostationary orbit far above the madding crowd, you can coolly and cruelly guide the remote controlled robot to the lair of the four desperados lurking on Zybor.

The view screen shows an Ultimatesque 3D view of Mantronix and his surroundings in glorious monochrome. Four-directional control is supplied, and a fire button activates a laser cannon. Mantronix moves around diagonally, and if the robot goes of screen another flips promptly into view. There are a thousand or so of these screens and Zybor's landscape is a bit bleak nothing much survives on the surface of this planet. The laser comes in handy for despatching the mindless baddies that constantly hassle Mantronix as he plods around under your command. If a Zyborian nasty should happen to bump into Mr M, he loses a shield.

There are numerous bits of equipment hanging around Zybor's rather desolate land and picking up a certain item by wandering over it gives Mantronix the power to destroy a pulsator, the criminal team's life source. Also worth collecting are power cubes: with all eight in the possession of your robot, the conveyor belts that limit Mantronix's area of movement reverse in direction.

All the conveyor belts are totally invisible and are only detected when Mantronix puts his feet onto a section of floor that is moving, and is moved in the direction of the belt's travel. Invisible barriers also exist on the planet surface, so the scenic route is often needed to get somewhere specific...

The game is up once all four baddies have been despatched, though this is not a trivial task, considering the vast amount of wasteland to be explored.

CRITICISM

'Mantronix is a sort of Alien 8, but you can wander around practically where you want, apart from the invisible walls, conveyor belts and other things that are there but not on general view. The detail is of the high standard that is expected of modem day 3D graphics, but I'm afraid gameplay suffers from a lack of objects and other characters. The sound is a very well done two channel simulation on the title screen, but during play there's only the constant clicking of metal feet which got on my nerves very quickly. I found the game, as a whole, was quite fun to play but the playability could have been improved - the bounty hunting became a bit laborious after a while. Mantronix is fairly well priced at £7.95, but the more expensive versions of this type of game are probably more addictive'

'At first sight I was quite impressed with this game, but I wasn't taken in by the pretty graphics for very long. Pottering around the playing area is fairly simple and finding the various items scattered around the place has more to do with luck than skill as you start off from a different place every game. Fortunately, you are provided with lots of lives at the start of the game but the nasties a re particularly vicious, so completing the game will take a lot of skill and patience. Graphically, there is nothing new here, although the graphics are quite pretty and very well detailed. I liked the sound: there are two tunes one on the title screen and one on the 'game over' screen, as well as a few spot effects. Generally, I found Mantronix a little shallow - there isn't really enough going on to keep me playing for more than a few goes at a time'

'As 3D games go, Mantronix isn't that bad and compares well against the glut of such releases currently swamping the market. It's smooth and slick, recreating a full three dimensional action quite competently, though the game itself is a mite bit dull. If you're not into arcade adventures then it's very dull indeed. The game idea itself isn't very original and basically comes down to walking, shooting and collecting. Reasonably good value for fans of this type of game, I suppose.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: Q, S, P, L moved in the two diagonals, 1/2 pause on/off, CAPSHIFT BREAK resets game, bottom row to fire
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor,
Fuller, Interface 2
Keyboard play: responsive
Use of colour: monochromatic playing area
Graphics: neat, detailed and plly- playing area a bit empty
Sound: nice tunes, a few effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: 1,000 ish
General Rating: A competent variant on a well tried 3D arcade/adventure format.

76%
77%
71%
73%
71%
74%
73%

Screenshot Text

A spiked nasty casts a menacing shadow as it approaches at head level. Things are beginning to look up - a few credits are in the bank now that a power cube has been collected.

Two hovering nsaties close in on your Mantronix remote control cyborg as it stumps around looking for the next arch-villain on the list. So far, the credit meter registers earnings of zero.