Ocean Software Ltd
1985
Arcade: Maze
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

16
Chris Bourne

It is a time of crisis, a few centuries in the future. Talos, a giant man-made asteroid spins slowly through space, spreading evil in its wake, crushing any opposition and generally creating havoc. At its helm sits one man, the really horrible, nasty Megacriminal, Cyrus T Gross a man so dastardly that not even the Galactic Law Enforcement Agency can bring him to justice.

In desperation, the rulers of the few remaining worlds that are still free bought a contract with the Nemesis Organisation, a tough bunch of humanoid and robotic mercenaries. Can Nemesis rid the cosmos of Mr Gross? A plan is drawn up a solo space commando is sent to penetrate Gross's heavily armed homeworld and destroy him. You control a N.O.M.A.D. 471 (Nemesis Organisation Mobile Attack Droid) assigned to the mission.

Entering the immense city complex on the asteroid where Gross has made his home, you find yourself in a strange environment, with weird machines and mysterious contraptions filling a maze of passage was.

The game is played from a plan view, which gives no feeling of depth in this respect, it's rather like Sabre Wulf. The route to Gross's lair is a very twisty and dangerous one. Your tourney is made even more hazardous by the flick screen display employed in the game you can never see what is coming next as you move off one screen. Four levels of the heavily defended city have to be negotiated before N.O.M.A.D. gets close to Gross.

N.O.M.A.D. has twin guns which fire powerful shells: useful against the TALOS defence systems. The little droid's control system is similar to the control method used in Asteroids. First you need to rotate through the points of the compass until you re pointing in the right direction, and then apply thrust to move. N.O.M.A.D. has a lot of inertia, so trundle around with caution it's easy to go blundering into trouble. Reverse thrust is available if you need to slow down in a hurry.

Gross has made sure that the route to his HQ is a well fortified one, and hazards lurk at every bend. The city walls are bristling with guns activated by your presence, and sometimes they're surrounded by magnetic walls Magnetrons which drag your metal body towards them. There are robotic guards too, which suddenly appear and make a suicide run towards anything they reckon is hostile, you especially. The most dangerous part of the city's weapons system are the heat seeking missiles. When these are activated they home in towards you at high speed until they either hit you or are destroyed.

Gateways activated by switches mounted in the walls of the complex connect the sections of the asteroid. Brushing against the switches generally opens doors, but the maintenance droids that look after the asteroid are terrible, and some switches don' t open the right doors ...

As you move through the passageways destroying the defence systems a counter on the right of the screen keeps tally of your score the faster it spins, the better you're doing. You begin the game with four lives, and when one of the nasties scores a hit you lose a life and N.O.M.A.D. is reincarnated a few screens back along the maze.

Even if N.O.M.A.D. manages to negotiate all the heavily defended passageways and arrives at the Inner Sanctum, you can be sure that the Arch Baddie Gross isn't going to come quietly a shootout to the death ends the game. Let's hope the goodie wins through!

CRITICISM

'This is a very neat game. Great touches abound, thank heaven, because without them it could have been very boring. It took me a while to master the control system for N.O.M.A.D., but the way it spins and bounces off the walls is excellent. Colour is used abundantly, and sensibly tool I thought the scoring system was brilliant, though it takes some time to build up a lot of points. Basically this game is well worth a look, because I found it addictive, enjoyable, and generally good, but for the price.'

'N.O.M.A.D. is a very good and colourful shoot em up/maze game, with lots of enemies to stop you in your tracks as you trudge around Gross's heavily armed homeworld. The inlay really sets the scene as you jump inside your N.O.M.A.O. and you get a comprehensive run down of what you are about to encounter and what you've got for and against you. The scenery is very detailed and colourful, with lots of interesting things to look at as you bounce around. The controls of the N.O. M. A. D. give a good feeling of inertia and I found myself constantly swinging and swaying in my chair as I played. This is one of Ocean's better current releases and represents quite good value for money at £7.95.'

'Although N.O.M.A.D. is rather simplistic it's highly enjoyable to play. The control method with its inertia is really nice and allows you to skid about the place while taking pot shots at the enemy. Graphically it's excellent with some really interesting backdrops. It's funny really, how this, one of Ocean's better games, has been released without any sort of hype or fuss, with only one or two adverts heralding its appearance, perhaps the shape of things to come? Anyway, the game is great fun, and to my mind, only just misses the CRASH Smash it deserves.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: R, U forward thrust, D, J backward thrust, Z, M rotate left, X, SYMBOL SHIFT rotate right, 5, 7 fire
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Keyboard play: a bit awkward
Use of colour: very good
Graphics: attractive, neatly done
Sound: usual firing noises
Skill levels: one
Screens:
General Rating: An neat game.

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Screenshot Text

N.O.M.A.D. Fights its way through the slums. The wheel doobrie spits out missiles as it revolves. Shoot it before it shoots you!

A tricky bend on the path to Gross's lair. The wall-mounted cannon on the right has just fired a laser bolt.