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1988
Arcade: Adventure
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

83
Rachael Smith
Chris Bourne

Four figures huddled around a campfire. “Ooh! Huddle closer, duckies,” the fire said camply. The quartet acted butch and ignored it. They were Teron the Terror, Sarnak the Snapper, Gorman the Gormless and Tartarus the Baking Powder. Their gathering could mean but one thing... that this was the start of yet another computer game scenario!

This one concerns the Zodiac Power Source, a sort of Ever Ready of evil from before the time of legend - or lunchbreak, whichever was longer ago. Krillys, (rhymes with Phyllis) a heavy-handed meddler in the subtle arts of magic, provides the necessary nasty who fries three of the four heroes, leaving only you, Sarnak the Soldier of Fortune, to rid the land from foul being (worse than the YS team?)

Pretty standard stuff so far, but for one thing - this is the latest from hard-grafting Graftgold, the people who gave you Uridium, Magnetron and many other golden goodies. But Solider's recruiting officer is neither Steve Turner nor Andy Braybrook, but one David O'Connor, so let's find out if all that glitters is (Graft-) gold.

On first impressions, Soldier Of Fortune ain't going to win no awards in the originality stakes. We've all played plenty of running, shooting and collecting games before, haven't we? But let's not dismiss Soldier so soon. What was Uridium but just another shoot 'em up - but one which transformed into a classic because of its brilliantly balanced playability? Perhaps Graftgold can work its Midas magic on yet another old genre.

As you play along, you'll realise that it can - and how! Forget the fact that you've seen almost every element of this game before, ranging from moving platforms to teleports and swooping birds to crumbling floors. You've probably not seen them put together as imaginatively as this more than three or four times in the whole history of the Spectral computing. Add to that some great and varied graphics and you have to magic hook of addictability to make you play and play again.

You start by running along the surface, shooting down some loping monsters which provide easy targets. But then you reach the first fissure in the crust. Will you try jumping (inadvisable) or hang around in the hope of help (somewhat wiser)? And when the lift arrives (ooh, worra giveaway!) do you descend or use it as a stepping stone to fresh fields?

Variety as you explore - that's the key! You have a choice of paths, even shooting out walls to reach caves by alternative routes. There are also teleports which take you into other realms, such as a world set amongst trees, and each has its own particular beasties, which become increasingly tough to tackle. Then, just to keep you on your toes, you won't find the objects that you're seeking in the same place each game!

You will be able to work out the cave layout though and discover how to deal with specific problems - only to have them lead you into new dangers. Luckily there's lots to collect as you go, ranging from more powerful weapons to life-giving crystals and more crucially, the six pieces of the magical tablet which let you construct an elemental to defeat the Guardian of the region - or was it a Daily Mail?

Yea, verily, there was a rejoicing throughout the land for once again the brave knights of Graftgold had got it right and breathed life into an old formula. So don't delay - sign up as a Soldier and receive a Fortune of fun!

Objects, platforms, mapping, monsters, strategy and atmospheric graphics - all put together in one totally addictive game!

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Keep on taking the tablets. Discover six of these and you'll fill up the frame at the bottom to win a date with an elemental of your choice.

This you, sexy Sarnak, about to do battle with an horrible harpy which flies right at you. One shot will dispose of it - but not everything is so easy.

Pity we could only get his toes in shot, but this is the skeleton of a previous adventurer. Walk across him and free his soul for extra points and perhaps a clue.

What's behind the round window, Play School fans? A green arrow to show that you're on basic power. Find better weapons to dispose of beasties faster, but be warned that they may drain your energy!

I know I said drop me a line but I didn't mean a branch line! In the Orchard World you'll need all your leaping skills to find the objects and then teleport out without getting out of your tree.

Sarnak's a diamond geezer - and if he manages to collect eight of these he can say 'Gee's a' n' extra life' (© RJ Smith Painful Puns Inc).

Collecting weapons allows you to dispose of some creatures with a single shot where two might otherwise be required. But be warned - they could also sap your strength. At least you've got unlimited shots!

In earlier stages the lifts are very smooth, but these two shoot around like burst balloons. Time your jumps correctly or you'll plummet off the bottom of the screen.