US Gold Ltd
1987
Arcade: Adventure
£8.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

28,29
John Gilbert
Chris Bourne

Eternia, a land of high fantasy, has been enslaved by the skull-faced warlord Skeletor and his hoardes of monsterous misfits.

Castle Greyskull has been captured, the good Scorceress banished, and Orko trapped within the castle by his own 'imprison' spell.

Any of this mean anything to you? Yep. It's all got something to do with the mega-popular ITV cartoon adventure series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. First a cartoon film, now a US Gold game.

You guide He-Man through a Jet Set Willy-inspired landscape of platforms and mossy walls. There's screen upon screen with the added action of some combat. Find your way into the castle and find the ingredients of a spell which Orko can cast once he's been released.

Sounds good so far. Pity, really. While the backgrounds are full colour and He-Man is smoothly animated, US Gold has chosen to combat colour clash by building a large black rectangle around his lithe, yellow, outline. It moves with the figure blotting out trees walls and laser beams as it goes. Similar to the black 'shadow' outlines round the figures in Dark Sceptre but nowhere near as subtle. I'm afraid I found it hugely distracting and very irritating.

He-Man's quest starts in the everglades outside the laser barrier set up by Skeletor to protect castle Greyskull. You start the game with only one method of attack: a slashing stroke with your power sword. Hold the Fire button down to bring the sword into the strike position and release it to attack.

Alternatively, you can guide He-Man to one of the many power puddles scattered around the everglades and castle. Step on them and his sword is energised, and suddenly capable of firing an energy bolt at any passing monster he cares to blast.

To get into the castle He-Man races across the jerkily animated screens (shame about that), jumps over two laser barriers and collects a key. Each castle room has a different and more cunningly difficult arrangement of levels, large sprites and green, mossy, walls.

He-Man's adversaries are a mixture of fantasy figures, most of them Skeletor clones, and laser firing robots. One blast from the power sword is enough to dispel them, but each time they hit He-Man with their magic power his body shield is drained slightly. Lose your protective shield and it's start again time - just like life, really.

The ingredients you need for the spell, which will turn the Sword of Power into an Atom Smasher capable of destroying Skeletor, are mostly found within Castle Greyskull.

There are six objects to collect, including an orchid and a bottle of spice. Each one is stored in a specimen jar on the status screen when it's picked up. Once you've found Orko he takes the ingredients and uses them to strip Skeletor of his power and send him back to the evil caverns under Snake Mountain.

The very obvious graphics problems within He-Man and the Universe are mostly off-set by the large number of quite difficult problems in the game.

But it's unlikely to suit you if you don't know He-Man from Prince Adam. If, you're a fan though you'll be able to add it to the rest of your He-Man gear, the videos, soundtracks, posters, soldiers, comics and books...

Label: US Gold
Price: £7.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: John Gilbert

***

It's big, colourful and complex, some of the puzzles take some thought but the graphics are really naff.

3/5