Ocean Software Ltd
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

Graham Taylor
Chris Bourne

An odd one this. Odd to play. Odd design history (Denton Designs thought up the idea but Choice Software programmed it) and odd concept. You blow away mutant germs with the good ship Rainbow Warrior. The germs are the result of weapons research by warmongering bad guys. The Greenpeace connections are obviously intentional which must make this about the most right-on game plot ever.

Like many Denton Designs game ideas this is a weird one. It is a good twenty minutes or so, even after reading the instructions, before you get the faintest idea what's going on. In fact the closest comparisons I can think of for the game are all by Jeff Minter - well known creator of bizarre plots.

After much reading and re-reading of the instructions I figured out it works like this: you select a region to enter, in each region is a germ species and an object you need to collect. If you get all the objects from 15 quadrants you can then take them to yet another section which is a sort of maze affair - somewhere in the middle of it is a sort of assembly plant where all the objects are assembled and you get to enter the next bit.

Getting each bit of the object means getting past the germs. This requires a bit of dexterous joystick juggling and the correct selection of weapon. There are three to choose from - laser-type things, bomb-type things and space mines. The problem is with some of the germs you have to choose the right weapon or... well you're going to look pretty silly and not save the federation.

The actual germ attack bits are the key to the game. Making the aliens an 'abstract' concept like germs means you can get away with all kinds of pleasing graphic effects and weird technical stuff. Some of the germs look like the night sky over Eastbourne, others look like comets and some look like second-rate laser shows. (Actually all of them look like out-takes from Colourspace, possibly Jeff Minter's most psychedelic game ever.)

Some germs sort of explode at you, others weave web-like patterns around you, some just sort of run at you. The end result is usually death. You can teleport between regions at will simply by finding the landing pad - so if you choose the wrong weapon - and haven't died yet, you can have another try.

It all looks quite nice - the germs are quite entertaining in a cosmic sort of way and there are icon-select systems all over the place.

The snag is actually the game doesn't hold the interest for long.

There is more to addictiveness than pretty patterns, but pretty patterns are all you'll find here.

Label: Ocean
Author: Choice Software
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

A touch of originality here and there and quite pleasing to look at but not, in the end of lasting interest.