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Games Machine Ltd
I.C. Docherty
1984
Arcade: Maze
£6.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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28
Chris Bourne

The Skull comes complete with a keyboard overlay which can be cut out and stuck on card to slip over the Spectrum's keyboard, and a very comprehensive set of instructions and objectives.

The format is a 3D maze with a claimed 9999 levels of maze and a possible top score of 999,999.

You start at the 'top' and always work down. There are two ways of descending a level, the hard way - fall down a pitfall and lose a life, and the proper way - use a trapdoor with a ladder. Other obstacles in the maze are portcullises which are often triggered by your passage, and the wandering skulls which kill on sight. What makes life bearable in this nightmare place is all the treasure lying around. It consists of crosses, keys, bronze and gold coins and pairs of gems. If you pick up a cross you are allowed 15 seconds, during which time the skulls appear with pairs of gems for eyes and are vulnerable to your attack. The keys let you open portcullises, only one per key, but doing so costs you some points.

Treasure is picked up by occupying the square It sits in, and to the right of the playing area an inventory is kept. The cross flashes inversely during its last 5 seconds of useful life. Below the inventory a map appears with each new level, showing your location and that of obstacles, skulls and treasure. Unfortunately it only lasts for a few seconds, but only at the cost of some points accumulated. There is also a lucky charm bracelet below the playing area which shows the number of skulls in the maze. The playing area itself shows a simple outline 3D representation of the view ahead of you and coloured objects which may be picked up.

Falling through a pitfall results in a series of flashing coloured boxes indicating your fall, whereas using a ladder results in a downward moving ladder to appear, while the next maze is randomly generated.

CRITICISM

'As an idea, the game sounds easy at first, until you see the huge skulls which are chasing around after you. The graphics are good - detailed 3D with good use of colour - and the skulls are excellent. I thought this was the best maze game I've seen yet.' 'The use of colour is fairly good, but l was impressed by the speed of maze generation and the graphics of the skulls. The objective is straightforward - amass as many points as possible without losing a life, and l found it entertaining as a game, but it didn't have much lasting appeal for me. Directional movement is with the cursor keys, which isn't too bad as the pace is relatively slow, and there are others in use tood, so the overlay is very useful.'

'The general presentation of this game is very good, nice instruction and hall of fame screens which split up into four sections and slide on or off at different angles. Because the 3D maze corridors are black and white, generations of each view is instantaneous, and it's possible to move through this maze at high speed, slowed only by the pitfalls or the trapdoors which have a 5 in 1 chance of opening up under you. The skulls are wonderful, sneakily sliding away behind walls, only to reappear behind you when you're not 'looking' for them. On the whole, the smoothest and cleverest maze game of its kind I have seen. I only wonder about rile general appeal and addictiveness of such games - but if you like the type, buy it.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: cursors for direction, Map = 2, Open = 4
Joystick: Protek, AGF or cursor clip on
Keyboard play: responsive
Use of colour good
Graphics: very smoothly generated 3D although simple in construction
Sound: fair
Skill levels: 1
Lives: 4
Screens: 9,999
Features: Save facility and 'merge' - hi-score save system

General Rating: A good maze game, with mixed feelings about its addictivity.

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Screenshot Text

Beware the looming Skull, its eyes may gleam, but its heart is cold.