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W.D.S.
1984
Adventure: Text
£1.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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52
Richard Price
Chris Bourne

STOW THEM cutlasses, marlinspikes and other marine miscellania and break out the laser rifles and vacuum suits. The new Marie Celeste from Atlantis is no square-rigger. Instead of topgallants and royals she's got ion-pulse plasma engines and double declutch hyperdrives. Perhaps she set out from Titan on an asteroid mining run or preyed off the freight haulers that head out to Mercury. Who knows? All you have to go on as you catch her in your scanners is that she's been abandoned, adrift in space. As you draw closer you can see the lolly Roger painted on her plasteel hull.

No cause for worry. You're no angel either. The fancy space yacht you 'borrowed' on Sirius IV has run into some bother - as usual the dimethium crystals have got damp, or whatever normally happens to them when they go duff. The main engines are up the spout and the nearest motorway telephone is 12 parsecs away. Your only hope for survival is to board this mysterious space hulk and find some new crystals to power up again.

This then is the plot for Atlantis' latest budget adventure release. There are three aims to the game. First, 12 treasures await your discovery - things like booster spice (remember Trader?), diamonds as big as your fist, elixirs of immortality and the like secreted about the ship. As well as collecting the loot and returning it to the utility room near the main airlock you've also got to find your dymethium. And, finally you must unravel the mystery itself - what happened to the pirate crew?

The game is Quilled and attractively presented with economical and fast graphics, Patched in to appear with the text. Very little filling and shading is used so they draw quickly and don't interfere with the game. A definite bonus - the effect is similar to the pictures in Subsunk.

Your first impressions are of a high-tech environment. The sliding doors are operated by card-locks - though there are other locked doors which won't respond to the card you can find fairly early in the play. Storerooms yield useful items like laser rifles, and treasure. There's also a locked safe which may well contain some of the answers you're seeking.

Why the laser rifle? Well... the ship may have been deserted by its human occupants but nobody bothered to tell the androids. At least one of them still patrols the corridors. It'll throw you in the brig unless you can vapourise it. But to do that you must first find a card to unlock the hatches to the storeroom, and get the rifle. You may find that you're just too big to fit into some places where you know you need to go. Check your inventory and you'll see that you have an atmosphere tester. If the readings are good you probably won't need your bulky space suit.

The descriptions are fairly straightforward, mainly relating to corridor directions and room information. Nevertheless, this is an atmospheric caper. The ship is quite complex to get around and there's a fine variety of locations - ranging from the messy mess to hydroponic gardens, and officers' quarters.

This open feel to the game combined with a non-linear plot, makes for a neat snappy little adventure.

Richard Price

Publisher: Atlantis
Price: £1.99
Memory: 48K

****

4/5