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1986
Arcade: Maze
£9.95
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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64
Graham Taylor
Chris Bourne

Avenger is not Gauntlet. It isn't really even Gauntlet-inspired although just taking a quick glance at the game you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

It's also true that if you like Gauntlet you'll like Avenger but a spin off (or rip off) it is not.

The game is based quite closely on a fantasy game book by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone. The plot is, theoretically, a sequel to Way of the Tiger. In that game you did your training - now you enter battle. Your objective is to grab the scrolls of Ketsuin. For reasons beyond easy retelling grabbing the scrolls will appease the God Kwon and release him from eternal torment. Since Kwon good turn deserves another, off you go. (I can't believe you wrote that - Ed.)

The playing area is a massive 300 screens depicting Quench Heart Keep, wherein the scrolls are hidden, guarded by hundreds of assorted monsters, locked doors, traps and the sheer complexity of the maze. Your view of the rooms, pathways, doors, stair and other features of the keep is Gauntlet I suppose. Your character is, however curiously drawn side-on - this gives the advantage of interesting looking animation when you beat up a wandering minotaur or spider but makes the perspective seem a bit odd.

Whilst there is near continuous monster bashing, just like that Other Game, playing Avenger requires a wider variety of skills. There is a definite strategy bias.

The first problem that confronts you is keys to doors. Groups of keys are located in certain places such that the exact order you move from place to place becomes vitally important. For example if you use the first keys you discover in the wrong order, you will get stuck. Hopelessly so.

There are six floors to the keep and getting between them means using trap doors and grids. These links between levels are not only often difficult to find, they usually have to be 'opened' in some way - which means finding specific objects.

There are around ten useful objects in the game: to link the crowbar with grill opening requires no great intelligence but what of the magic cord? There is treasure too, which you can collect but it isn't the main objective of the game and can distract you from the main task.

If you need a point of comparison then Avenger is like Gauntlet with marginally less wholesale destruction and quite a lot more by way of puzzles. It looks sort of similar but in some ways the animation is better.

I hope Avenger doesn't get submerged beneath a tide of Gauntlet clones. It is a different and perhaps superior sort of game.

Label: Gremlin
Author: In-house
Price: £9.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

*****

Highly inventive game with 300 scrolling screens. Superficially it looks like Gauntlet but the gameplay is more sophisticated.

5/5

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HINTS AND TIPS

Watch all energy levels closely - it is easy to miss the fact that you are about to expire.

Call on Kwon to restore energy but not too frequently - if he gets upset it's curtains.

Make a map - more specifically work out how many keys are found where - getting through may depend on your getting the right number in the right order.

Use schuricans wisely, you get a very limited number and you can often simply outrun monsters.

Watch out for messages from Kwon. These scroll across the bottom of the screen and contain important information.

Different enemies have different attack patterns - it isn't random and you can develop defensive tactics.

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South of the bridge. Two keys left. Not enough. Main exit is south but you may have to visit the spider first.

Crack heads and ask questions later. OK forget the questions.