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Mastertronic Ltd
1985
Arcade: Maze
£1.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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164
Chris Bourne

You've been sent off to the planet Anromadus to round up members of a species of alien animal named ramboids and teleport them to market. Despite the name, ramboids are not Sylvester Stallone look-a-likes, but are the Anromadian equivalent of male sheep hence the name ramboids. Technologically things have moved on quite a bit since the days when a shepherd's only friend was his dog. The modern shepherd has traded in Shep and got himself a droid, a multi functioning device specially designed for the job. Capable of four different modes of operation the droid is used to guide the ramboids into the teleport chamber.

When you start the game you are given the option of inputting a password in order to resume a game you were playing earlier, otherwise you start at the beginning. There are passwords for each of the twenty different ramboid-filled caverns, and as you progress through each cavern, the computer releases the corresponding password to you.

At the start of a game the screen is split up into seven different windows. Largest and centrally placed is the main window which looks into a cavern, displaying a view of your droid placed centrally amongst the scenery. Your first task is to guide the droid to the start position. When you arrive at the start the computer takes over and places the droid in the first cavern.

Once into the first cavern, the other six windows activate. A narrow, vertical window to the left of the main screen randomly shuffles eight different ramboids within itself to set the collection sequence, which is the order in which you have to get the ramboids into the teleport. A window on the right of the main screen charts your progress, indicating the ramboids you've penned so far with those herded into the correct place in the sequence flashing.

The four remaining windows, arranged horizontally below the main viewing window display the four modes in which the droid can be operated. The mode the droid is currently in is highlighted by a white bar above the relevant icon. The most useful mode of transport is jet mode: using the jet it's possible to zoom about in the normal, left, right, up and down directions. The droid stays central while the bricks and earth of the cavern whizz by in the main window display. Burrow is the second mode: the droid can move left and right along ledges and will burrow into the floor while fire is held down, popping up again leaving the floor intact when it's released. The third utility mode allows the droid to alter the cavern by digging tunnels. If the droid walks into a wall while it is in this mode, a large portion of the barrier is eaten away and the floor and ceiling of the newly formed alcove is supported with purple girders. To switch between the different modes, press fire; holding fire down reveals a map displaying the positions of all the ramboids left to be collected.

Ramboids are dim. They move very predictably, and will always reverse their direction of movement if their way is blocked. Once you know this, and watch the set patterns of movement herding them is relatively simple but they are delicate creatures which only live for about twenty minutes. You are working against the clock all the time. Should you fail to get at least four ramboids in the teleport in the right order within the time, it's back to the first screen.

CRITICISM

'The game idea for this one actually contains elements of originality! An quality rarely found even in full priced mega releases. The game idea is rather neat, and is fun to play showing little derivation from any other known piece of software. Graphically One Man and his Droid is also very good-the scrolling in the main window is impressive. The droid itself is a little ill-defined, I felt, but overall the standard is quite high, especially for Mastertronic. I must admit to being favourably impressed to this release: it provided far more than £1.99's worth of entertainment for the time I played. The only slightly marring feature was the fact you can't restart once you've started a twenty minute ramboid rounding up session'

'Have you ever fancied yourself as an intergalactic sheep farmer? Well, if you have you're bound to find this game pretty useful. Essentially, it's a maze game but with a few good, new ideas added. The game takes a bit of getting used to, and careful reading of the instructions is vital but once you 're up and running it's definitely fun and a bit of a brain teaser. Maze-lovers shouldn't miss this game - and at £2.00 it's difficult for anyone to go wrong.'

'This is a game with very nicely drawn and animated graphics and quite a few neat little touches. It's a sort of arcade/strategy game which can be quite absorbing. For the price, considering the level of finish, it's a good deal. Well worth a second look, unlike quite a few games on the market at three or four times the price.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: A to ENTER down, Q to P up, 1 to 5 fire
Joystick: Kempston or Interface 2
Keyboard play: a little awkward, but responsive enough
Use of colour: very neat
Graphics: thoughtfully done, attractive
Sound: spot effects and constant clicking, which can annoy
Skill levels: progressive
Screens: 20 cavern systems
General Rating: A neat product, especially at the price.

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