Quicksilva Ltd
1984
Arcade: Maze
£6.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

122,123
Chris Bourne

To readers of the comic 2000AD Strontium Dog will be no stranger. Interestingly enough, the even more famous hero (?) Judge Dredd will soon be turned into a computer hero as well as Games Workshop are even now working on the project. Back to the story: Johnny Alpha is a Search and Destroy agent, a bounty hunter of the future, he is also a mutant or Strontium Dog. He has arrived at a contest where the galaxy's most vicious murderers are in a fight to the death. Johnny must destroy them all to rid the galaxy of both killers and the dictators who preside over the contest.

The game begins with a screen where Johnny Alpha is brought before the dictators as in a Roman amphitheatre and one of them declares, 'Let the killing begin!' as he happily plunges a dagger into some hapless victim's chest. In the way of modern computer games advertising other games, however, there is a slogan etched into the dais which says, 'Borzak woz ere' - one of Channel 8's games.

The Killing is played in a vast complex of rooms, or sectors. Some of these are merely tunnels to other sectors, but the real action begins in those rooms that consist of a central passage with what resemble rabbit hutches on either side. These are the cages in which the vicious murderers live. They emerge from either the top or bottom of their cages, into the open and fire energy bolts which rebound in the centre passage. Strontium Dog must fire at them when they appear and try to kill them, while dodging the energy bolts which travel in a diamond shape, narrowing their field before expiring. Occasionally in the transverse passages a murderer will be lurking, armed to the teeth.

At the top left is a status panel with the score in bounty points, the number of the sector you are in, and lives left. On the right is an alien scan which shows living aliens (starts at 93) and deaths scored. Because of the size of the complex, a map would come in handy in order to ascertain that you have got all the vicious murderers.

CRITICISM

'What first struck me about this game was that the opening routine seemed a bit ruthless. Why you may ask? Well, since when have people had human sacrifices where the human body is placed on a high altar and stabbed? As you can see, this game could do with an X rating on the front of it. Into the game I went, with fighting wits and a pop gun (it seemed that to me). Moving down through a couple of empty rooms, I found forcefields, were they to keep me out or to keep someone else in? Then, not to my surprise, a little meany popped out of a hole and shot something at me. I don't quite know what it was, but it seemed to bounce about for about ten seconds. After being electrocuted by it once, and losing a life, I zapped it with my pop gun. On through several empty rooms I went, is this all there is to the game I thought? I walked through a room with a forcefield either side of me, and very pretty it was too with its flashy colours. Yes, I think this is all there is to this game. Well, as for content, it's barely worth making the effort to say anything. It seems to me that P. Hargreaves (the author) could have increased the content a hundredfold and made it quite an addictive game, but as it stands, I cannot recommend this game at all.'

'The Killing is a very good idea but QS haven't done much with it which is a shame. The graphics are jerky and not at all animated and the sound is poor. The playing area seems quite a small maze of interlinked rooms which you easily get lost in. Killing the aliens is fairly easy, but there are a few which are a/most impossible. I didn't really enjoy playing The Killing as it was so basic. The thing that annoyed me was the scene at the beginning of each game.'

'Quicksilva have always been producers of very good games, sometimes brilliant ones, and on the whole all those games have been high in content, so The Killing comes as a disappointment. So many of the rooms are devoid of life and one suspects they are just there to confuse the player on purse. The action can be fun, but it's repetitive and overall the game lacks anything to appeal. I've nothing against adaptions of ideas from other media, but I do think a game should combine some of the elements from the original. Not a thrilling Quicksilva game, this one.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: 9 or Q/8 or A up/down, 6 or O/7 or P left/right, zero or M to fire and X
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair 2
Keyboard play: sensible keys but not terribly responsive and firing is not possible while moving
Use of colour: good
Graphics: large characters, a bit jerky and not much animation
Sound: fair
Skill levels: 1
Lives: 5
Screens: lots
General Rating: Poor.

52%
64%
52%
53%
30%
42%

Screenshot Text

Let the Killing Begin - the start screen which offended a number of reviewers.

A typical screen from STRONTIUM DOG, with the hero in the centre and a caged baddie on the left firing bolts of energy.

Dead in a corridor with a triumphant murderer under the arches.