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Martech Games Ltd
Adventure: Graphic
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
SpeedLock 4

Other Links

Chris Bourne

Martech move Celt from comic to computer.

There have been many attempts to convert comics into computer programmes. Scott Adams took the Marvel superheroes and stuck them in rather primitive graphic adventures with tricky puzzles and poor parsers; Melbourne House came up with their own superhero, Redhawk, and actually tried to create a comic on-screen, complete with speech bubbles-and scrolling frames. Neither approach really succeeded, though fanatics could do worse than check out Stifflip and Co from Palace, which adopts the Melbourne House approach and improves upon it.

Slaine is something completely different, superficially at least. Based on the 2000AD comic strip hero of the same name, the program presents a colourfully decorated screen featuring cameo displays of your location, the characters in it, a text-frame, and - above it - a blank area across which various commands and playing options scroll smoothly and rapidly.

Slaine and his side-kick Ukko (both of whom are reasonably faithful in appearance and characteristics to their excellent comic counterparts) find themselves caught up in a search and destroy quest, with numerous ogres, dwarves and other enemies to do battle with as well as treasure to find and wrongs to right. Gameplay involves selecting (using a 'severed hand icon') the appropriate actions as they slip across the screen. This in itself takes at least half-an-hour to get used to and even then control is difficult if you're in a hurry (when fighting, for example). The method is ingenious and imaginative, the idea being that the options as thoughts flitting through Slaine's mind, but is also highly impractical. Combine this impracticality with a rather limited scenario and you have a recipe for an intriguing, attractive, but seriously flawed game.

One thing Slaine and the earlier Red hawk have in common is the favouring of programming techniques over storyline. It's not an approach that brings either lasting interest or intense player involvement, but it does have a value in showing us different ways of structuring programs, some of which may be further developed in future. In the meantime, you're probably better sticking to the comic...

C64/128, £9.99cs, £12.99dk, Imminent
Spectrum £8.99cs, Out Now
Ams, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Out Now


Screenshot Text

Slaine - those commands slip across the screen at an alarming rate. Can you dick on Defend before you get the chop? The lower right-hand part of the display shows frequent cameo pictures of your location, objects earned, and your vile companion Ukko.