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Activision Inc
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes

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Graham Taylor
Chris Bourne

Rescue on Fractalus is the first of the Fractal-based titles. In many respects it's disappointing. Perhaps because it's the first it's the weakest on plot.

Fractals are all about craggy landscapes, consequently it's no surprise to discover that the game is set on 'Fractalus, the most inhospitable planet this side of the Kalamar system' - an excuse for lots of jagged edges if ever I heard one. The idea is that you pilot your Valkyrie fighter over Fractalus seeking out pilots shot down over the planet. You must then land and wait for the pilot to run on board. Rescuing pilots replenishes your energy - why I don't know - and after a certain point allows you to move on to the next level.

So the game splits into two sections, tracking down pilots (which becomes comparitively simply once you get used to the controls) and knocking out enemy gun emplacements before they blast you from the sky. In later levels there are space ships to deal with as well.

The problem is game play - there isn't enough of it.

Later levels make the pilots more difficult to find and have increasing numbers of alien machinery blasting away at you, but there isn't a lot of skill involved in many aspects of the game. In particular, it is surprisingly difficult to crash your fighter.

Label: Activision
Author: Dalali
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor


Programming limitations and lack of game plot restrict the appeal of this, the first of the Fractal titles.


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There are two elements. The Fractal landscapes seen through the ship's viewing screen and the interior of the Valkyrie fighter. The overall cockpit detail I found disappointing - all big and chunky. I thought it looked a little amateurish and out of keeping with the sophisticated graphic intentions behind the Fractalus concept.

The landscapes of Fractalus were better than the interiors but still not absolutely convincing. The Fractal effect is used to depict an arid craggy landscape, sheer peaks dropping down to deep valleys and sudden outcrops of twisted rocks.

That's the intention anyway and at some points, particularly when moving at speed over a trench-like valley, you do get a visual effect that is quite spectacular. The problem is that the screen updating is too slow, making the whole thing look jerky. The Fractal effect itself is hardly the same on a Spectrum as it is on Crays and mainframes, but it certainly could be better than this (see Eidolon). Where you once had an almost infinite regression of mathematical shapes constructing extremely natural looking forms, here the Fractal effect tends just to look like wiggly lines.