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US Gold Ltd
Adventure: Text
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Graham Taylor
Chris Bourne

Rebel Planet is a graphic adventure taken from the Fighting Fantasy gamebook of the same name.

These gamebooks written by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone have so far given rise to quite a number of computer programs.

Rebel Planet is quite a loose derivative since it doesn't feature the chance and role playing elements so important to the books.

What we have, in fact, is simply another graphic adventure with no special technical features and a plot vaguely related to the events of the book.

The program has been written by Adventure Soft UK who were Adventure International and who were also responsible for the Marvel comic-derived games - Spiderman etc.

It shows. The graphics, syntax analysis, input routines and general style are very similar in Rebel Planet, which is a mixed blessing.

Idiotic reviewers such as myself are supplied with a cheat sheet for the adventure which lets us fumble our way through most of the locations without the need for serious thought. It also lets us assess how 'fair' the solutions to the puzzles are in the sense of being reasonably logical or otherwise. Having wandered through most of the game, I reckon the puzzles in Rebel Planet are mostly very fair and sometimes quite ingenious.

The opening section of the game provides a particularly telling example of good adventure design. The game opens the cockpit of the ship, there are perhaps half a dozen rooms easily accessible containing some assorted goodies which seem important, a laser sword for example. The problem is that just as you start to congratulate yourself on cleaning up the opening screens you die - your protein levels having sunk to zero. The food is, obviously, in the dispensing machine which, equally obviously, wants a coin or card inserted into it to make it cough up those goodies.

The solution to the problem of getting the food turns into a different problem - how to open the hatch door behind which you just know lurks the means of getting food out of the machine. Getting the hatch door open may take you many moves - you could spend a lifetime kicking and hitting the damn thing before you start wondering what this thing on your arm is for...

The syntax analysis system passes two simple tests: when it doesn't understand you it doesn't always say the same thing, and it doesn't usually fail to understand reasonable sentences. The game will handle multi-part sentences where each instruction is separated by a comma.

The plot is the usual 'lone freedom fighter against the might of an intergalactic dictatorship' stuff (an adventure game in which you play a right-wing terrorist dedicated to overthrowing a perfectly peaceful democracy I'd really like to see) but there are some genuinely inventive ideas nevertheless. I particularly liked the real time elements. The spaceship, the Caydia, has a pre-programmed flight sequence which means, simply, that if you tarry too long on your mission it will leave without you There are ways of slowing its clock however...

The graphics are colourful and detailed, and even, in a small way. animated here and there. They add a little to the game but aren't, it seems to me, so stylish that they really excite the imagination in the way that some of the interceptor offerings did.

Rebel Planet is well above average among Spectrum adventures if not in the first division.

Label: US Gold
Author: Adventuresoft
Price: £9.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor


Clever puzzles and good graphics. It's just no quite original enough to justify the full price tag.


Screenshot Text

All alloy strip and a space scooter in the cargo hold. Can the strip be used to repair the scooter'. What if the scooter is a ploy to make you waste time'. Those fastened containers look tempting but there is no obvious way to open them. if you are playing the game for the first time about now you should start getting messages that your protein level is running low. Don't hang around...

The opening screen of the game. Dodging the UFO may be wise but suspicious movements could alert the authorities. Which to do?. Going south leads to the central spaceship corridor.

Surely that rectangular Pak' must be significant. But if it doesn't could the hydro bed be anything other than a joke? East leads back to the central corridor.