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John Pragnell, MIG
Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Gwyn Hughes
Chris Bourne

First from the Domark non-tie-in, arcade label... surely an attempt to escape the notoriety of past turkeys like View To A Kill. Well, it's good to report that Orbix is not the load of old spheroids that you might have feared.

This game's of the 3D, seen from above, variety. But Marble Madness it's not, because Orbix bounces rather than rolls, and the landscape is littered with structures that make it look like the garden of a modern sculpture collector.

You begin on the planet Horca, and as with so many planets in computer games, there's no Welcome mat awaiting your arrival. In fact, the natives are determined to hamper you in your mission of mercy. You must locate stranded astronauts and the sections of their fragmented ship, which you have come equipped to rebuild.

Before your search can start for real, you'll need a Federation Property Developer. The FPD will guide you to where the bits of the ship are scattered. But the Horcan horribles are out to get you, so you'll have to shoot first and ask questions later.

You've got unlimited ammo for this mission, but not endless energy. All is not lost though, because a hammered Horcan holds enough power to recharge your cells for a while, if you bounce over his remains and dance on his grave.

To help in your search there are two alternatives to the main display. A long range radar helps locate astronauts, while the planetary map indicates how to avoid traffic jams on the busy by-pass! But avoid getting shot at too much, because you could lose the use of these valuable visual aids.

When you finally locate the component, you then have to battle a droid for it. Providing you win this duel, you must race back to the centre of the radar. The droid booby-trapped the bit and you've got just ninety seconds to return it to the neutralising zone.

Controlling Orbix isn't easy. Every time you hit an obstacle you bounce back and have to re-orientate yourself, but eventually you'll pick up speed. The view screen scrolls smoothly - a distinct advantage over games where the landscape merely flips. There are also four difficulty levels.

Despite the fact that it's a competent game, my reaction to Orbix was rather neutral. Somehow there just didn't seem enough variety, enough drama, enough meat, to make me want to play for long. Then again, it could be that it'll grow on you with time, so bounce into your local software shop and take a look.


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Star of the show is Orbix himself, the lovable little craft who puts the bounce back in tactical planetary warfare! Steering is by rotating him the the eight compass points, shown on the display below.

This is the invaluable FPD that'll guide you to the crashed craft. But beware - the Horcans are hardly honest, and will try to steal this, so you have to search for it again.

The speedo - or should that be bounce-o? Try to keep as high a velocity as possible as it gives the Horcan snipers less chance to blast you. Simple - huh?

What would a game be without a radar? This is one of the simplest kind, indicating the FPD with a dot. Once you've got that, it turns blue and you aim for the cross. Don't forget that it's wrap around when you plan your route.

Keep an eye on your energy level, because if it slips into the red you could have problems. Try to keep around the half way mark if you don't want to refuel too often.