ONCE SATAN'S PENDULUM has LOADed the player is given a glimpse of the torture chamber of Prospero's castle where the heroine, Pixel Ramtop, is being held prisoner. By the look of her, Pixel has already been tortured by the over-application of plastic surgery but she is, at present, being tortured by Satan's Pendulum, which swings lower and lower until, eventually, it will cut her to pieces.
To save Pixel, the player must move round a ground plan of the castle. In each room there are evil monsters which attack and which must be destroyed if possible. The more monsters killed, the greater the player's strength becomes. The greater the player's strength, the greater the number of rooms which can be entered. The torture chamber is the most difficult room to enter.
There is a time limit, for you must save Pixel before the Pendulum reaches her. If not, you are transported to the torture chamber to watch her die.
The game involves strategy, as the player must decide whether to build strength slowly by fighting the easily-killed snakes in the outer rooms or to try to increase it quickly, with the greater risks entailed, by advancing towards the centre. It also involves co-ordination to kill the excellently-drawn animated monsters.
The booklet accompanying the cassette explains the principles of animation on the Spectrum in some depth, together with short sample programs. That useful addition is the finishing touch to an excellent game which is marred only by the needless and vicious sexism of Pixel's portrayal.
Satan's Pendulum is produced for the 48K Spectrum by Minatron Computing, 34 Pinewood Close, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol BS9 4AJ.