Interceptor Micros made their name with quality programs for the Commodore computers and this, their first effort for the Spectrum micro, is well worth exploring.
You are in deep space on patrol and you become aware of a message relayed onto the computer screen. Being a brave, fearless adventurer you decide to investigate this intergalactic distress signal. Gently the Galaxy, your spacecraft, lands on an unknown planet, you cautiously open the airlock and head south. The buildings here form a square in what must be a quaint intergalactic village.
First impressions of this game include irritation at the error-prone silent key entry (with no cursor on the display) but admiration for the fast all machine code response and the pretty graphics. These pictures appear very quickly because they already reside in memory and are not drawn. Perhaps this is just a little wasteful in memory but the graphics are almost instantaneous. The screen overall is set to black with generally white text but yellow on input.
I'm afraid the early part of the adventure won't accommodate the faint-hearted. You can't just turn down the mission - if you do you're left nowhere until you re-read the message and there's no running back to the ship once you're out. These aren't particularly bad points, it just gives the start of the game a very predictable feel with a textbook linear development. (No, I haven't written the textbook - in any case it's best to book your spot on Russell Harty and Breakfastime and then write the book.)
You'll find when you play this game that access is easy and quite safe throughout the first 23 locations, apart for the aggressive android guard in the Guard Room. This first stage completed, you reach an impasse as the problems remained difficult even after consulting the program listing.
It's a shame there are no easy problems to ease you into the adventure. Without them an adventure takes on a very eerie feeling and you keep wondering what you've missed. The impasse is most evident when you chance upon a plate set in a panel. It is almost certain that you get through this way by opening the panel but getting the exact words takes a long time. In fact I had given up until I bumped into Richard Paul Jones of Interceptor at the Earls Court Computer Fair whereupon I received some timely advice. Considering I found the rest of the game relatively straight-forward, and I do like to play as much of an adventure as possible, it was fortuitous indeed to hear the solution from the horse's mouth.
The vocabulary consists of mainly Verb/Noun input but in some cases longer sentences may be necessary. The language can be a little pernickety when, for example, you must 'SHOOT ALIEN SOLDIER ' as simply entering 'SHOOT SOLDIER' will not do. One of the realistic things about this game is the way dead soldiers still lie where they were slain when you return to a location. Other assailants you might meet include giant slugs, a fierce scaled creature on the bridge and some impregnable ivy. Message from Andromeda has some very good graphics but there aren't that many.
Strangely enough - and commendably - some of the best are towards the end for only the most dedicated of reviewers. The game is good value at £5.50.