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1987
Arcade: Platform
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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46,47
Graham Taylor
Chris Bourne

How many games can you think of in which you had to play a woman that were also a big success? Thought so. Why??

Anyway let's hope the same fate doesn't befall Athena it's an all-round good game. If we were playing spot the trend I'd say that 'building up your firepower by collecting things' is flavour of the month.

In Athena you begin on uppercut power alone, but gradually build up until such things as axes and ball-and-chains increase your destructive capabilities markedly.

Incidentally, those foolish urchins who do strange things like leer over cassette inlays (cf Barbarian) will be disappointed that the sprite representation of Athena bears surprisingly little comparison with the original on the the cassette inlay.

Anyway enough of this irrelevance. The game is played over six worlds - forest, sea, sky, ice, fire and hell. In each Athena pummels her way through, past countless peculiar aliens including big monsters and small potatoes (surprisingly vicious for root vegetables). She is looking for one of the two exits out of each world, one of which is protected by an enormous monster. Trash it for lots of points and, voila, the next section.

Actually it isn't 'voila the next section' because in 48K you have to load it from tape. It is, however, pretty quick.

But Athena does more than trample aliens, she tramples rock itself. In a sort of bizarre variant on Boulderdash, Athena often has to clear vast amounts of landscape which block her path - and it means she sometimes has to choose her route through each world carefully.

There are some curious aspects to the gameplay, too. You get five lives in the usual way but have to complete each level within a time limit. Assuming you are still within the time limit, you are offered the option of continuing with the game after all five lives have been lost. Press Y within 10 seconds and you're back to five lives again. Peculiar.

Having actually managed to get through the first level I can exclusively reveal that the next level is set in caverns and is very similar to the first level which is a forest. The caverns are yellow and the forest is green. In the forest section there are (seemingly) more baddies but in the caverns there are more 'shifting the rubble' type problems.

Graphics, though two-colour are pretty good with a fair amount of detail in both the sprites and backgrounds. The movement is smooth(ish) and some of the visual ideas are quite inventive. (A lot of the monsters, for example, look amiably doltish rather than threatening.) The potatoes are particularly nice.

Athena is the stuff of which high score letters to Jon Riglar are made. It won't win any awards for great innovations, but definitely take a look at it anyway.

Label: Imagine
Authors: Andrew Deakin, Ivan Horne
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

Lots of screens and good graphics. Unoriginal play, may be, but definitely one for the Zapchat high scores table.

/10

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PROGRAMMERS

ANDREW DEAKIN and IVAN HORNE are relatively new to programming professionally. For Athena Andrew concentrated on the gameplay and Ivan did the graphics.

SOFTOGRAPHY: Labyrinthian (Alligata, 1986), Megabucks (Firebird, 1987)