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John Pragnell, MIG
Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Chris Bourne

This is the first release from DOMARK'S new label, STREETWISE, set up to promote DOMARK's new line in arcade games.

Eeek! an allied space ship has crash landed on Horca, a distant hostile planet. The crew were unhurt in the crash, but they are now stranded. As supreme commander, your task is to take your Orbix (Tactical Planetary Warfare craft) down to the unfriendly planet and rescue the poor survivors.

However, there is just one tiny problem. The Planet Horca isn't just unfriendly, it's positively dangerous. The entire planet is just unfriendly, it's positively dangerous. The entire planet is infested with large insectivores (sort of big insects). These nasty creepie-crawlies have taken the crashed ship apart bit by bit, pilfering the food supplies within. Not content with this however, they are now fixing their roaming eyes on the crew. You must get to them before they become the After Eight mints at the end of the insectivores' meal. The cunning insectivores have also created a species of fierce droids which pursue your Orbix mercilessly. Other perils which you must face include magnetic tar pits which suck your Orbix into the bowels of the planet, and strange vegetation which isn't actually dangerous but it does knock you off course if you bounce into it.

The screen shows the action scrolling diagonally. You have to bounce your Orbix down through the screen, blasting any insectivores and droids along the way. A constant push in any direction simply revolves it, however, a short push forward or backwards sends you off in that direction. A direction meter is located at the bottom of the main screen, this shows you which direction you are going to travel in. There are eight axis of movement available, so you can romp around the planet avoiding most objects if you're careful enough.

There are six missing components from the spaceship which you must recover in order to complete your mission. The long range scanner shows the position of the next piece of the ship. The components are usually carried by factory droids. These rather stupid creatures fight if they're cornered, but they generally flee if approached. When a droid is destroyed, you must still be careful, as it's booby trapped. This means that you have only 90 seconds to get the piece of ship back to the launch pad, where it is automatically assembled.

The Orbix has unlimited blasting power which comes in very handy for getting rid of all the unsavory insectivores. However, it only has a limited amount of life energy, this is replenishable by 'feeding' off the power crystals which are conveniently left behind by the dead droids.

On each level there are eight stranded spacemen to collect, with points scored for each one who is returned safely. There are four levels, which can be selected at the beginning of the game. There is also a two player option, so you and a mate can battle it out together.


'The graphics of Orbix impressed me at first, but once I started playing I found that the game was very boring. There is very little to do, and is just a case of looking at your scanner and trying to get to that place on the play area. The scrolling play area works well and is very smooth and well designed, but I feel that the game would have been more fun with less obstacles in the way of your progress. I can see Orbix has the potential of being a good game, if only there was something more challenging to do in it.'

'Orbix the Terrorball is not really one of the best games around at the moment but it ain't the worst. The basic idea bouncing around the playing area etc is fairly sound but I think that it could have been made a little more compelling. Orbix is presented fairly well, the excellently scrolling background is dotted with various buildings and trees and your character bounces up and down nicely. All in all I wouldn't recommend this, there are plenty of games around in the same vein that are easier to play.'

'Mmm. The graphics aren't all that good, and the game isn't either. I don't know what it is (do I ever?) that gives me the impression of poor quality, but there is definitely something. The graphics have a negative feel to them, and the whole game just doesn't play very well. The cover artwork is excellent, with the massive sphere dominating everything, but unfortunately, the game doesn't seem to be of the same caliber. I'm not overly keen on it.'

Control keys: Q Increase speed, A Slow down, O Rotate left, P Rotate right, SPACE fire, H Pause, J continue, BREAK during pause to abort
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Keyboard play: hard to get the hang of, but it eventually becomes slightly easier than using the joystick
Use of colour: it's a bit blue
Graphics: good detail
Sound: the odd spot effect
Skill levels: four
Screens: scrolling playing area
General Rating: Dull game, tricky controls.


Screenshot Text

A bit of bover with a drone. Time is running out, it'll soon be time for spaceman thermidor.

First bit of space ship found. Things are definitely starting to look up.