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Ariolasoft UK Ltd
1985
Arcade: Action
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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13,14
Chris Bourne

The Panzadrome is an island inhabited by robot tanks of varying levels of viciousness. The mission that's been foisted upon you is to destroy the Panzadrome. Each tank is remotely controlled from a central computer, from which it gets its power. This central computer is powered by a geothermal based energy source. Plasma vents are a central part of the power grid, and they have to be destroyed in order to knock out the computer. The computer is well aware of this weakness, and wherever you find a vent there is also a very hefty guardian force as well. Apart from the tanks, you have to reckon with heavily armed gun emplacements, which spit death at any unknown passer by. You are unknown, so beware.

When you start, the tank that's allocated to you can't really be described as top notch. In fact it's positively sub standard, with a one-shot turret and stone wheels! Fortunately, factory depots are scattered around the island, each specialising in a different type of tank component. Originally placed there to make and repair the robotanks, it's possible for you to sneak in and collect whatever weapon system a factory makes.

Though the robot part stores are not wise to your little suicide mission, and merrily upgrade your tank, the computer run tanks are well aware, and will do their best to blow you away. Three different types of weapon are available to you, though only one is supplied when you power up a single shot turret cannon. Mortars and mines are definitely worth having, but they have to be collected from the appropriate factory.

A Polycrete TM module is well worth collecting. While it's possible to avoid the fire from the enemy tanks by moving quickly, both their shells and yours leave impassable craters in the ground if they hit the deck. With tanks constantly taking pot shots at you it is quite easy to get permanently stuck between a couple of impassable craters. The polycrete module is like having Taylor Woodrow in the back of your tank. The P key lets forth a jet of a cement-like substance that fills in craters beautifully.

The Panzadrome itself is a 64-screen island each screen flicks to the next when the edge boundary is reached. A scanner, consisting of an eight by eight grid, helps you navigate by highlighting the screen you are currently occupying. A short range scanner covers the screen you're on, showing the tanks, which you can see, and the mines, which you can't. Also shown on the status screen is the state of repair of any equipment you may have. If your tank takes too much punishment you can lose the use of peripheral equipment. Only one life is supplied, and if your shields run out a direct hit on your tank ends the game. Status bars depict shield level, plus other handy information like stock counts on the amount of mortars and mines left in your possession.

As you progress through the game and manage to total a few plasma vents, the enemy slowly gets aware of your designs, and the tanks and defences get more vicious still.

CRITICISM

'I'm not overkeen on military type games, but Panzadrome was a pleasant surprise. It's pretty good fun just as a hack round and blast the tanks game, but you soon realise that there's also a greater strategic depth within it. I like the idea of the game a great deal but I do feel it could have been a bit more competently executed. The movement of the tanks slows down horrendously once there's more than a few of them on screen, making retaliation near impossible. The graphics are very pretty and are nicely presented, though the actual tank sprite would not have suffered if it had been a bit larger. Panzadrome should appeal to quite a few people, though I found it a bit dull after a while because of it's sporadic slowness. Worth checking out though'

'Being temporarily joystick-less when I reviewed this one at home, I found this game more difficult than it should have been because all the control keys were in the same row - I thought software houses gave that up years ago! I've not no major grouches about Panzadrome: essentially it's a good game but it's spoilt a bit by a few things that wouldn't be difficult to alter. The graphics, with the exception of the rather too small tanks, are superlative, even casting shadows on the streets. The most aggravating aspect of the game, for me, was getting stuck in a narrow street between two craters when I hadn't got any Polycrete TM, leaving me no option but to restart. Generally, a very good piece of software, but not quite good enough for me to rave over'

'I liked Panzadrome. It's not a classic game, but the graphics are interesting and the gameplay is a bit different. You've got a large playing area to explore, and plenty of things to shoot at (and avoid). The tank graphics are perhaps a little crude, and things tend to slow down a bit when the screen's full, making your tank a bit sluggish when it come to responding to orders. At times the game is really wicked - if you don't watch out it's easy to get trapped, and a fair bit of strategy is involved in playing successfully. When you get the top-of-the-range tank, though, all the effort is worthwhile!'

COMMENTS
Control keys: CAPS LOCK/Z rotate left and right X/C forwards/backwards, V to fire
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2
Keyboard play: some people will find the key layout awkward
Use of colour: attractive scenario that's prettily presented
Graphics: blocky, but nicely detailed producing a good effect
Sound: neat rendition of Beethoven's 9th at start but nearly non existent after that
Skill levels: 1
Screens: 64
General Rating: A very good idea that is let down a bit by the execution.

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