1985
Adventure: Graphic
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

36,37
Peter Shaw, Penny Page
Chris Bourne

DOWNTOWN RATS

They were big (well, ish!). They were black. And they were ugly. Soon there were swarms of them. They teemed into the shops and took over people's homes. They were The Spectrums. Now Hodder and Stoughton has released a new game designed to tame them. YS Pied Pipers, Peter Shaw and Penny Page, have joined The Rats race...

Once again, London is at war. But this time the enemy is already within its walls... waiting, waiting, for just the right moment. And then the black army emerged from the dark recesses of the sewers to do battle. First, they were like shadows unsettling a sunny day - black and swift but seldom seen. Soon though, they were everywhere - rats, giant rats driven on in a frenzy by an obscene craving for human flesh...

It's your task to staunch their crazed bloodlust - to stop the horrific slaughter and mindless massacres. The gravity of the situation calls for a three pronged attack. Howard is in charge of Research and Development working round the clock in a bid to create a weapon that'll get the rats on the run. To Foskins falls the unenviable task of deciding where the meagre resources he's been allocated should be deployed. Both of them are generals in the war, initially isolated in offices and distanced from the battlefields. Harris, however, is in the thick of it - he has come face to face with the monsters, seen how swiftly they can devour a human body leaving only bloodstains and polished bones. Above all, he knows what it is to face death and feel fear...

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Protect Harris's flat at all costs - the rates seem to home in on it sensing a deadly enemy within. If you let them overrun the place, it's curtains for you!

Here at the Research and Development Centre, the vital work to find a weapon that'll eradicate the rats is going on. You can do your bit to help the boffins by protecting the establishment from the rodents.

The rats are on the rampage all over the city. Keep track of them by constantly calling up the white squares for reports on sightings - and take note of what you're told so you can assess how dangerous the situation is on each square.

The yellow squares show you where you've deployed your troops. Move the cursor over them when you want to inspect their strengths.

The rats are fighting tooth and claw with your troops on the red squares - the most appropriate colour, after all.

This is the General Head Quarters manned by Foskins and the other Whitehall mandarins. Since we've payed our taxes to put 'em in jobs, it's an idea to make sure they're protected.

Day and night, Howard and his team toiled in their bid to develop an antidote to the rats. But the poison was

spreading - and time was running out...

Although you have weapons from the beginning of your struggle, you'll need specially designed equipment if you're to stand a chance. First, the boffins will come up with sonic scramblers followed by ultrasonic rat detectors, stun prods and anti-rattus gas.

Your research and development resources are limited. The temptation, of course, is to slap the whole shebang onto research into defence and offence. Don't! Without background knowledge on where the rats are coming from, you'll never be able to develop the weapons to wipe them out.

Try out all the different combinations of deploying your scientific resources until you come up with the one that yields the best results. For us, one man an' his microscope digging away at the origin of the species, another researching their nature and the rest employed on weapons development has proved successful in the field.

As the battle develops, the backroom boys at the R&D centre will send you newsflashes at the top of the screen. Read them to keep abreast of all the latest research.

You'll also receive reports from the areas where your troops are under attack. If you're told that casualties are light, take it that you're doing OK, and press on elsewhere. As soon as you're told of a massacre, move in the big boys to that area. Like now!

Foskins and the other bureaucrats weren't too worried at first. After all, how could a few rats take over London - the idea was laughable. People do panic so! The pest control would come in and it'd be all over in a week. The papers would have found somethng else to sensationalise. It just goes to show how wrong you can be!

As the true scale of the threat comes home to the politicians, you'll be given reinforcements - in the main, police and firemen. Now it may sound callous, but use the firemen at this stage as they're expendable.

Just like the movies, the cavalry arrives at the last minute - or in this case the army though they haven't turned up yet. Not that they're any guarantee of victory - these rats are more deadly than any Apache - but they'll give you the extra resources to rally against the enemy.

In the early stages, you'll have very limited numbers of troops. Best to use them in the centre of the city where the rats first crawl out of the sewers, remembering to keep some in reserve so you can stomp on any stray sightings in the outskirts.

Don't spread your men too thinly. Far better to concentrate on key areas and clobber the critters as they come out.

Here's your standard issue rat-killing equipment. It's not amazingly effective but you've got to make do until the R&D boys come up with the goods.

At the start, you'll have a team consisting of police, firemen and rat-killers. The police should form your main attacking force - send them in with guns a blazin'. The professional ratcatchers, on the other hand, are more useful in domestic situations and for defending strategic targets like Harris's flat.

Now you might not think it's not that worthwhile saving somewhere like, er, Hounslow but once the rats get a foothold in the outskirts, you're in big trouble. It's only a matter of time before they're out of the metropolis terrorising England's green and peasants! And that means the game's up for you.

The sonic scrambler is the first of the specially designed weapons to leave the labs but only the Rat-Kill exterminators are allowed to operate them. Get them to the battle-grounds as soon as possible - they're doing no good tucked away in the armoury.

All over the city, ordinary men and women were having their lives completely changed by chance encounters with the black menace. And sometimes were those lives were brought to a bloody end...

You are Harris, on a mission to capture a rat.

(At intervals throughout the game, you'll find yourself in the shoes of someone who's about to come face to face with the rats. It's your job to make sure that that someone doesn't become another statistic with a closed file labelled Deceased.)

You are in the Rat-Kill van.

(I'm only here for the ride - this one's strictly for the professionals. No sir, Ferris calls the tune - he's being paid to be the Pied Piper!)

Ferris is with you, carrying a wire cage.

Objects present:

a lit torch

Take torch

Ferris gets out saying, "Come on mate, scared of a load of overgrown mice?"

Leave van

You are on the waste-ground near the van. Ferris goes into the graveyard whispering, "Wait here".

You are in the graveyard.

(Eeyah, this graveyard is really spooky. I ain't afraid of no ghost - it's the rates that give me the creeps.)

One of the tombs has cracked open.

Ferris walks towards the tomb and bends to look inside.

A huge rate springs at him. Ferris screams and falls back.

(It's a bit of a shame if the various people you're looking after become victims of the rats but it's not the end of the world. If you lose Harris, however, it is - or at least the end of the game!)

Dropping the cage he claws at the wriggling creature.

Horrified, you watch as he is dragged into the tomb.

(Oh my God... Ferris... no, the horror, the horror... he's dead... mustn't look, mustn't be sick... just take the cage...)

Take cage.

Enter tomb.

Your are in the tomb.

A bloody trail leads to the tunnel in the back wall.

(Often your first reaction i situations like this is to turn tail and run for it. Better to keep your nerve and press on - remember that there's only one course of action that'll see you safely through and it's not always the most obvious or pleasant one.)

Enter tunnel.

You are in the tunnel.

Objects present:

the van keys

a rat gnawing on a piece of Ferris' body

A single monster rat sits gnawing Ferris' body

A single monster rate sits gnawing Ferris' chest.

Small boons crack under your feet.

Take keys

Grab rat

(If R&D are to come up with the weapons you need, then they're going to need all the information they can lay their hands on - only this time, you've got to lay your hands on a big black rate first. Yeuch!)

You are holding the feeding monster but it will soon finish the piece of flesh.

(Aaargh... this monster's so strong... not sure if I can hold it... s'like wrestling the devil... get in there... one last... eergh... got 'ya!)

Put rat in cage

Go back

You are in the tomb.

Go to graveyard

You are in the graveyard.

Go to van.

You are on the Rat-Kill van.

(I've got the keys, I've got the cage an' I've got the rat. Looks like there's only one thing left to get - the hell out of here!)

Close van

Start van

The engines start, you plough through the vermin to safety.

THE BLACK DEATH

And then the black, writhing carpet engulfed him, knawing at his bones, ripping mouthfuls of hair from his scalp, gorging themselves on great gobbets of living flesh and gulping down the blood...

The game uses a unique method of instruction entry to save you having to type in your commands. You're given a menu of options at each location and when you choose one it branches out into a sub-menu.

This is the gruesome scene that faces you if you let the dirty rats get on top of you. Sometimes the rats spring from the screen and there's nothing you can do but thank God that it was all over in an instant. More terrifying are the rats gnawing through doors as you wait in vain for help to arrive. At least it gives you time to appreciate the way the text on screen is corrupted to simulate the scratching of the rats' claws. A nice touch that.

Unless you're one of the three main characters, you can continue the game despite losing a life. But if you do survive, a message is automatically sen to the R&D Centre containing information that helps in the development of the superweapon.