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Greg A. Holmes, SP
Arcade: Adventure
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Richard Blaine
Chris Bourne

Yes, you've read the movie: you've won the breakfast cereal; you've heard the bendy toys with the eyes which light up when you press their private plastic parts; now eat the game - Masters of the Universe!

Yes folks it's another licensing deal! Let's not bother with quality, throw the plot out of the window; and who cares about programming? The punters are going to lap it up!

Five games in one package. all based on events in Masters of the Universe - The Movie. The objective is to get through the five games, and collect the eight parts of the lost Cosmic key, possession of which will ensure that its finder will have the right to call him, her or itself the Master of the Universe. The key has, for reasons known only to itself and the scriptwriter of the film, slipped through a hole in time and space and ended up with an American college student.

The first offering is a search through the streets of Smalltown, USA. You control He-Man, who unfortunately looks like just one more purple blob in a whole bunch of purple blobs. Your attempt to find your friends and various bits of the key, are hindered by the minions of the evil Skeletor.

The streets are shown from above, and the minions (and He-Man) look pretty similar, like walking plastic robots. Luckily you can tell which is He-Man; he's the one who moves and shoots when you twiddle the joystick, and doesn't when you don't. Plus you also get attacked by flying nuts.

You have to try and shoot the minions before they shoot you, or if the worst comes to the worst, charge into them. If you get hit by their bolts, or if you touch them or the nuts, you lose energy. The amount of energy you have left is shown by the sword to the left of the graphics window; as it melts a bit like a candle - you have less and less. Luckily you have four lives, and you can also find little swords just lying about which give you extra energy.

Every so often, you will also find chords - which look like musical notes - lying in the street. Again, you want to collect them.

One of the main problems I had was that I kept going round in circles. There's a direction arrow indicating north at the top left of the screen, but north isn't always the same direction. If you exit one screen at the top, going north, then going up to the next screen isn't necessarily still going north. In fact, it might well be going south, in which case you just return to the screen you were on previously. Keep going in the same direction, and you're back onto screen two and so on. Seems strange to me!

You may by now have got the impression that I don't like the game much. You'd be right. But to be fair, I don't think its really aimed at me; I suspect it's like Mask, meant for a younger audience, presumably the same one that watches the shows, and forces its parents to buy extremely expensive lumps of plastic. But if you want a bit more bite from an arcade game, then give it a miss.

There's a very basic map in the instruction leaflet, but as the design of the town is pretty basic too it's very useful. The only places worth visiting are the electrical store, the scrapyard and the rooftops. As they're the only things marked on the map, they should be fairly easy to find.

That's game one. Game two is a bust-up in the scrapyard, where you punch, dodge and kick your way through a battle royal with two of Skeletor's nastiest henchbeings. Typical kung-fu style stuff, it seems.

Game three is a shoot-out at the electrical store; you control the cross-hairs and try and pick off Skeletor's warriors. Game four and you've nicked a flying disk; zip around the air-lanes, zapping the gribblies with your trusty laser guns. Finally, I am reliably informed, once you've nicked, er, collected, all the chords then you can make your way to the throne room in Eternia, where you battle with Skeletor. Beat him, release the sorceress, and whammy! You've won.

Disappointing tie-in, presumably aimed at a younger audience. There's less here than meets the eye.