Quicksilva Ltd
Paul Hargreaves
1986
Arcade: Maze
£8.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

127
Chris Bourne

The interstellar war is over and the enemy Jaglan Group has finally been wiped-out ... bar one member, who has taken refuge on the planet Tantalus. The Centuri Alliance is eager to dispose of this deviant, so a special task force is sent to Tantalus to eradicate him.

Years ago, human combat was abandoned in favour of wars between specially created mutant soldiers. Mutants were developed for domestic and menial jobs, but a certain type of mutoid has been genetically engineered as the ideal fighting being. With sharp reactions and inbred cunning, they are ideally suited to tackle the Tantalus Problem.

Four mutoid Spikes under your command are on the planet Tantalus and it's up to you to negotiate a way around the booby-trapped defences and assassinate the Jaglan criminal. Four against one? Couldn't be easier. Ho, ho. Tantalus is a veritable rabbit warren of underground caverns and hidden passageways, over a thousand locations in all. The Jaglan deviant hasn't wasted his time.

All those years in self-imposed exile have been spent setting up defences. Forty eight different sorts of alien form a grand welcoming party for you. Forty-eight types of alien with sixteen different flight patterns, each one a different challenge. Although the mutant spikes are near perfect fighters, they are by no means invulnerable. Apart from the nasties floating around Tantalus, the deviant has rigged-up some pretty devious devices to ensnare intruders: lasers fire across gaps; lasers shoot down from the ceiling; roof spikes impale passers-by; bubbling vats of acid have to be avoided and sinister looking grabbers winch down from the ceiling and do nasty things. There are dissolving walls, seemingly innocent doors that suddenly destroy you and apparently inanimate objects that are really rather deadly.

Before you can even think about eliminating the Jaglan deviant, thirty two deadly doors must be found and opened with the right key.

The mutants don't look much like the ultimate fighting creation more like strange cuddly toys with no hands or feet and mohican hairstyles. They start off with jetpacks and can zoom around the fortress. Going through an airlock removes the jetpack, and the range of movement thereafter is limited to left, right, up, down and jump. In jet pack mode Spikes can make themselves invisible for a few moments very handy when in an awkward spot.

Spikes are provided with an elaborate weapon system. They have six weapons, each of which fires in a unique pattern and can only be used for a limited period of time before being allowed to recharge. Panels on screen monitor progress, showing how many doorlocks have been opened, the condition of each of the six weapons and the number of lives remaining.

This is the first game in a trilogy from the author of Glass - more to follow in due course...

CRITICISM

'Tantalus didn't appeal to me at all, mainly because I've seen so many games like this before. Arcade/adventures aren't new and to make any impression on me, such a game has to have something different or original about it. This game hasn't. The graphics are nice and colourful, but not particularly well animated. The only bit I liked was the six types of weapon available-apart from that I got bored rather quickly, I'm afraid.'

'As shoot em up games go, Tantalus is excellent. It is both addictive and very playable. The use of colour is terrific - the whole screen is covered in it, but I couldn't spot any colour clash. This game had many nice touches, like the different weapons. As you blast your way though the hundreds of sprites, the graphics and backdrops are well detailed and stand out. Eliminating the enemy is a massive task to embark on: overall, no disappointment in the game, which is very playable.'

'Though not a mega-fantastic game, I enjoyed playing Tantalus for a while. Colour is very nicely used and the game, while being very difficult, is good fun. I like it more than I did Quicksilva's last release, to say the least. The playing area is absolutely massive, and I found I could wander about for ages without having to recross my route. The concept of mutant punkoids is great, and I want one too!! Tantalus is big, colourful, fun and very difficult: I like it!'

COMMENTS
Control keys: Q thrust/jump, A change weapon, 0 left, P right, M fire
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2
Keyboard play: fine
Use of colour: lots of it-perhaps a little garish
Graphics: densely packed, lots of variety
Sound: raspy spot effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: 1024
General Rating: A large colourful and playable game.

77%
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76%

Screenshot Text

Having just passed through an airlock on the bottom of the screen, the Spike has lost the Jet Pack and is about to pass through a laser curtain.

Spike in his Jet Pack zooms along directly above a ramped stairway, doing battle with a gang of aliens.