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US Gold Ltd
Arcade: Maze
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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Tony Lee
Chris Bourne

I made a new year's resolution never to allow another duffo computer game to darken the circuits of my pet Spectrum again. Obviously, this ambitious and foolhardy resolution was brought about by an over indulgence of journalistic inspiration (ie alcohol), because here I am with yet another prime example of the way-not-to-make-Speccy-computer-games.

Actually Shackled is a bit of an ugly duckling. It has the potential to be a cracking game, but the poor programming and lack of polish has forced me to chain a message of disapproval to the remains. A waste of a valuable arcade licence, and largely a waste of everybody's time.

Shackled is a conversion from the coin-op, which itself was a rip-off from one of the greatest arcade games of the known, (and probably unknown) universe. That's Gauntlet to you dumbo! And yeuk, what a simply squalid conversion job the US Gold programmers have made of it. Hang on, 'cos before I lay into the programmers again, let's have a butchers at the action.

The action, such as it isn't, revolves around the brawny duo who decide to combine talents and rescue their buddies from a maze like prison. In game design, play and basic plot this is Gauntlet City Arizona all the way. To be fair, Shackled does attempt to break the well-used mould by introducing elements from games like Nemesis. So, walking over certain icons will give you extra powers.

Collecting one of your mates from a cell, adds further fire power to your own - bit like the famous 'multiples' in Salamander. This was the only highlight of the game for me, and that's not saying much!

So where did they go wrong? I could write a book (but this review will have to do! Graphically, its uninspired. Just black and white is used on screen -boring, chaps. The sprites are tiny and very badly animated and sometimes lose each other in crowd scenes. The collision detector is far out (man), and the response to the keyboard is sluggish.

Worst of all the gameplay is slow, clumsy and only a mite entertaining (a very, very small mite may I add). With far better Gauntletesque programs about like Avenger, Ranarama and the big 'G' itself, why part with good money to own this?

Some people may wring playability out of the two player option, and good luck to 'em, but for the rest it will be disappointing. I'd have to be chained to the Spectrum to play it again. Recommended only for people with more money than sense (hang about, that includes me...)!

Disappointing conversion from a passable coin-op game. Similar to Gauntlet and UCM but without the polish or panache of either. One to leave on the shelf.