This is the fourth program in the Seiddab series and is in fact a cross between a shoot em up and Dragontorc, but then you should know about that from last month's preview ... what do you mean you didn't see it? Get CRASH 21 NOW through the back issues form.
Just in case you didn't see the preview, Astroclone has three separate parts: a shoot em up sequence, a strategic element and an adventure section (where it's like Dragontorc).
The idea of the game is to knock out all the Seiddab bases (in the adventure section); to shoot down Seiddab cruisers en route to the bases (arcade section). The strategic element of the game lies in choosing the route you take to achieve the overall aim.
You begin the game in a nice safe location, the Astroclone Assault Craft, in control of a clone you can get the 'feel' of clone control in comfort before you begin the game itself, since there are no threatening things in the immediate vicinity. Don't hang around too long however, as your oxygen supply is limited.
To operate the clone, you use an icon driven control system. Your clone can be in one of three modes: movement; arm and laser. Clone mode selection (good phrase, use it to impress friends) is achieved via an icon driven menu. In movement mode, you can scamper about; in arm mode it is possible to pick up, drop or use objects; laser mode puts a weapon in your clone's hand, and allows you to aim it with a cross-hair cursor and loose off shots.
The galaxy is represented onscreen as a series of 24 box-like 'sectors'. You can move from one sector to another by using a cursor to lock on to a space ship. You can then deploy it in another sector (perhaps one which is full of Seiddab). The strategic element comes into being here, as you try to decide where it is best to deploy your forces.
Once you're happy with your force dispersion you can then start fighting the Seiddab in the true old fashioned shoot em up style. Pick a sector where you want to fight and your ship enters it through a star gate. The shoot em up sequence is a Defender variant the landscape scrolls from left to right and you can thrust, reverse and move up and down. The Seiddab cruisers are found zooming around somewhere. Just to make life that little bit harder there are other Seiddab artefacts zooming around in the sector. These include three types of smaller ship, homing missiles and Seiddab-controlled asteroids. These don't have to be destroyed to clear a sector, but it usually makes life easier if they are.
If you clear a sector of all the Seiddab cruisers and it has a Starbase in it you can enter the base by flying into an object that looks similar to an electricity pylon. When you do so you are put into the 3D arcade/adventure section of the game. Here you have to work out how to destroy the Starbase by using the objects littered around the place. Wandering around the Starbase are the actual Seiddab themselves. They look rather like mini Tripods and pose a threat if they get their claws into you. You can destroy them with your laser, though, so you're not too defenceless. Once you've destroyed the base you can go and try to find another Starbase which has to be destroyed in the same way.
'It's nice to see several types of game all rolled into one and here the three separate parts have been combined successfully. The only trouble is that the game is rather repetitive and long drawn out. In the shoot em up part the gameplay is very sluggish and tedious - you just have to keep destroying the same old cruisers over the same old landscapes. By the time I'd destroyed about twenty cruisers an advanced stage of rigor mortis had set in. The graphics are fast but scrolling is quite jerky and the screen tends to slow down whenever any action takes place. The adventure bit is quite obscure, but if you like Dragontorc then you should be able to get on with it pretty well. The graphics aren't too bad on the adventure part, MIS apart from being only two coloured and therefore rather bland. Overall the game didn't appeal to me because the whole game is very long drawn out and too samey to be rated anything above very good.'
'I've played this one for ages now but I still can't see a lot in it. Graphically the 'Defender' scene isn't too bad although the colour is very garish and after a while of whizzing about the surface of Vega I was completely mesmerized. As for the other part of the game, I didn't think it was that compelling. Getting into the space station is hard enough, and once I got there I walked around for a bit, got lost and then died. After repeating this several times I stayed clear of the stations and just went around shooting up the Seiddab ships.'
'Astroclone is the next logical step on from Dragontorc and the Seiddab trilogy. The graphics are well up to Steve Turner's usual standard. The only niggle I've got with the game is that the defender variant part of the game is a little bit sluggish and can be a bit annoying if you want to rush headlong into the adventure part. If you liked Dragontorc then you will love this game because there are plenty of problems to solve. Some of the bases are easy to destroy but others have a huge playing area and could take months to complete. Overall it is a very good combination of three totally different game types that should appeal to most Spectrum owners especially fans of Steve Turners previous games.'
: Up A,S,D,F,G; Down Z, X, C, V; Left B, N; Right M, Symbol Shift; Fire H,J,K,LJoystick
: Cursor, Kempston, Interface 2Keyboard play
: keyboard control reminds of Dragontorc/Avalon, takes some getting used
to, but works wellUse of Colour
: varied, although tends to single colour per screen to avoid attribute clashesGraphics
: very good, with excellent consoleSound
: not too bad, nice tune at the end of a gameScreens
: 250 plusGeneral Rating:
A strange mix of shoot em up and more recent Steve Turner arcade/adventure that should appeal highly to fans of the genre.