James Closs
1986
Arcade: Platform
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

15
Chris Bourne

During the 1980's, various nuclear weapons were tested in the Nevada desert. At the time, there appeared to be no harmful after effects on the surrounding environment. However, in 1991, five years after the last test, severe seismic tremors were recorded in the area of the testing site.

Professor Fusion, a top scientist and an expert in these things, has been sent to investigate. However, as he strides out across the sun bleached Nevada desert in his little radiation suit, the ground begins to shake beneath him and a great chasm opens up. Suddenly, Professor Fusion feels his body being sucked downwards. By a miracle he survives the fall, and finds himself in a subterranean world of dark caves and even darker passageways. Slightly bemused, he dusts himself off and begins to explore.

Large, glittering radium crystals we scattered on the cavern floors, deposited many years before. As the Professor picks these up, secret doorways open up before him. Intrigued, to say the least, Professor Fusion explores deeper, and deeper and deeper...

The Professor is not alone in the caves. They are populated by hideous monsters that have been deformed by the high levels of radiation. In the half light, they clutch at anything, including the Professor. Even his radiation suit can't protect him against these nasties and contact with them loses the Professor one of his four lives. Apart from the monsters, there are also mutant mushrooms to avoid, not to mention the Ominous Vat of Sticky Gunk which is hardly conducive to good health.

As the Professor progresses deeper into the caves, he discovers that the systems harbour a more sinister secret than mutant monsters: a huge underground complex has been built underground. The truth gradually begins to dawn on the unflappable Professor. This subterranean citadel is being used for storing deadly missiles which the mutants plan to release into the outside world as revenge for the nuclear tests that caused them all their problems. As soon as Professor Fusion realises this, he knows that he must escape at once and inform the powers that be of the impending danger. The more radium crystals he picks up, the more pathways are revealed to help him find the exit.

Professor Fusion moves around the complex by walking or jumping. Some monsters are so docile that they permit you to bounce on their heads in order to get to the higher levels in the caves, but most of them are not so friendly. There are no weapons involved in the game, so the Professor must stay alive by using his skill and dainty leaps to avoid the terrors which lie beneath the Nevada desert.

CRITICISM

'After last month's unexciting start, I thought maybe AMERICANA could have done something more positive than this. It seems they can't. The graphics are nothing amazing, but there is some nice animation on some of the screens. Basically, it's just a very simple platform game, with no features that might make it something special. I didn't find it very playable, and was bored within half an hour. Platform freaks may find it grabs them as being a reasonably cheap bit of fun, but it doesn't appeal to me in any special way at all.'

'There are so many trite platform games like this on the market, it is hard to see how big companies still release them. The graphics are above average, but only just. There are many characters, the majority of which flicker and jerk around the place quite badly. The various screens are pretty drab and uninteresting. There are a few platforms here and there and if you're lucky you might chance to see a decorative mushroom. The use of sound is poor Instead of a tune there is what sounds like an elongated screech, and the spot effects during the game am minimal. Generally, there is nothing to keep me interested for more than a few goes at a time. So, even for its two pound price-tag, I wouldn't recommend it.'

'AMERICANA seem to be entering the Spectrum budget market in a very quiet manner. All of their games so far seem to be typical budget games, and to prove their point they've come up with a typical arcade adventure. Subterranean Nightmare is definitely nothing out of the ordinary but still presents as much game as most higher priced programs. The graphics are better than most of the small stick graphics that I've come to expect from budget games. These are very colourful, extremely well animated and drawn with precision. The sound is nothing to shout about - so I won't! Gameplay is very accurate and sensible. The presentation is well up to standard and contains some very well written and meaningful instructions. Subterranean Nightmare is a very good product from Americana, but I feel they may be a little late with this type of game.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: O left, P right, Z jump, W suicide. E abort, S save, Enter load
Joystick: Kempston
Keyboard play: not too bad
Use of colour a few colour clashes
Graphics: a bit jerky
Sound: nothing to write home about
Skill levels: one
Screens: scrolling arcade adventure
General Rating: Might appeal to a hardened platform game addict.

50%
59%
56%
66%
52%
59%
56%

Screenshot Text

Professor Fusion contemplates blowing out the candles at Neutrino's birthday party.

Oh dear. That looks like it could be a nasty drop in front of the Prof at the bottom left of the screen. Should he retrace his steps or take a chance?