Adrian Longland
1987
Arcade: Action
£1.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

113
Ben Stone, Paul Sumner, Mike Dunn
Chris Bourne

It's back to the old 'nuclear reactor going crazy' scenario. One thing games designers never tire of is the prospect of some hideous nuclear accident dumping radioactivity all over the place. Once again, you are at the controls trying to stop the world from glowing in the dark.

Naturally, you are not expected to go down into the trouble zone in person - you have a little robot to guide around and do the dirty work. Four nucleo cells are unstable and about to blow any second, and they have to be destroyed by nudging into them.

The game is played over a terrain displayed from an isometric 3D viewpoint, in a strange complex made up from blocks and floor sections. Some of the blocks can be shoved around, and the floor doesn't always cover the entire screen in view. Some segments drain energy while others propel your droid off in a given direction rather violently. Energy recharging points are scattered round the building.

Mutant droids inhabit the complex and come in two basic flavours: some tromp around following a set patrol path and other, really mutant robots, home in on your droid. Contact with the guard droids saps energy, which is monitored by a horizontal bar at the base of the screen.

The hero of the piece can fight back, however - he's equipped with a shield that drains energy when it's used but comes in handy for battering the baddies.

The game is divided into four sections, one for each nucleo. Five droids are supplied, and when the current servant expires, the next mechanoid clanks off from the start of the current section.

There's no score: just a rating based on the number of nucleos neutralised. To make life that bit more difficult, the game is played against the clock.

CRITICISM

'Well done ATLANTIS - what an excellent piece of budget software. Although Nuclear Countdown is far too easy to offer much in the way of lasting appeal, I'll be hooked until I complete it: it is really playable and ever so compelling. The graphics are slick - the backgrounds are excellently detailed and the characters move around smoothly. The sound leaves a little to be desired - the effects are good, but there is no tune whatsoever. Overall, I think that this is well worth its two quid price tag. Go and buy it.' BEN

'A great little game from ATLANTIS. Even though monochromatic graphics are the order of the day, this is an addictive and very playable game. Presentation is superb with a neat pause mode and some good sound effects. All the characters are very well drawn, contain lots of detail and are well animated. I found Nuclear Countdown very easy to get into - but unfortunately a bit too easy to complete. If you want a great little budget game with strong hints of Highway Encounter then this could be for you. I certainly enjoyed playing it.' PAUL

'Nuclear Countdown, while it isn't exactly blazing trails in the fields of software excellence, is quite a competent little game. The graphics, although small, move quickly and smoothly, and for £1.99, I don't think that anyone will complain if I recommend it. Despite the fact that most people won't play it for the rest of their time, it is playable, and to an extent, addictive. It looks and plays very like a cheap game; I don't mean that in a negative way - don't expect too much from it. Although there is nothing particularly amazing about Nuclear Countdown, you might find it alright for the price.' MIKE

COMMENTS
Control keys: definable; left, right, up, down, shield, pause, quit
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Use of colour: monochrome
Graphics: excellent detail, good animation
Sound: good effects, no tune
Skill levels: two
Screens: 25
General Rating: A very neat budget game.

57%
72%
70%
68%
78%
72%

Screenshot Text

Your droid is very close to a nucleo, buried in the middle of the screen.