Mirrorsoft Ltd
1987
Arcade: Adventure
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
None

23
John Gilbert
Chris Bourne

Meet the devils of the deep blue sea - well Scottish Loch, anyway in Mirrorsoft's latest software vehicle.

It's set at the close of the 19th century when Victorians first looked to the skies and saw weird UFO's and to the seas where wee timerous beasties, such as Nessie. hid in the black depths.

What's the connection between Nessie and UFO's? Well, according to eye-witness reports, a large number of meteorite like objects have fallen from the skies above Loch Ness. These hunks of molten rock brought strange creatures to the loch's surface which threatened the local fishermen and may have had an adverse effect on the monster itself. She hasn't been seen for a while and you've got the opportunity to investigate these happ'nin's.

It's an insane escapade. An eccentric Scottish engineer who lives close to the Loch has agreed to lend you his new fangled bathosphere - a sort of early submarine - to take a dip in the deep.

If you're still willing to investigate climb aboard the craft, select your drop place within the loch using the cursor pointer on the map - all mod cons here - and switch to dive mode.

The main, submersible, screen displays a bewildering array of switches, sticks, dials and indicators. The cassette insert says 'by dint of logic you deduce what they are...' Logic? You need to be a minor genius to work out which instrument does what within the cramped display. Admittedly, Mirrorsoft has provided information about the controls - left to right - but they're not easily memorised and, when you're under attack from horny-eared toad creatures, you're not likely to have time to glance from the screen to your scrap of highly glossy insert.

If you hang around too long in one place you'll be attacked by puny looking yellow monsters. The best way to avoid them is to dive, but remember that you'll constantly need to keep the oxygen pumping and keep supplies and weapons coming down more frequently by using the Klaxon a specified number of times.

As you go deeper all the supply problems get more serious.

Also, as you sink, the monsters get larger and more dangerous. At first they look like harmless guppies but soon you start to get bug-eyed creatures which would be at home in an Ultimate game and many-tentacled terrors which glide up from the bottom of the sea window. They'll approach from more than one direction so when you hear the banging on the hull, move your vantage point around to find where the destruction's about to occur.

Talking of banging noises, there's a 128K/+2 version of the game on Side 2 of the tape. It includes some very nifty sort-of-sampled sound. The oxygen pumps thud and hiss, water bubbles around the sub, and, the weapons - of course you'd have some means of self defence even in this tub - make all sorts of zinging and kat-chowing noises.

The three types of weapon you've got are spears, which are singularly ineffective, an electrical field which drains energy if used too much, and a bomb. The bomb's the most impressive weapon - it makes the most noise - but you've got to drop it, prime it and, when you've escaped, detonate it. Not something I wanted to do an awful lot.

OK, I admit it. While I was turned on by this game's unique mode of transport at the start I floundered a bit with the controls and soon became bored with the oh-so-similar monsters. Although some of the monsters were pretty big, I longed for a shoot 'em up I could really get my teeth into.

If you've got the odd half a day, you like watching bubbles gurgle up the screen and enjoy shooting things now and again - and it's very now... and... again - you'll give this your own Classic. Me? I just couldn't.

Label: Mirrorsoft
Author: Mr Micro
Price: £9.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K (enhanced)
Reviewer: John Gilbert

****

Hair raisingly eerie at first, but the monsters soon appear. Complex underwater simulation which ultimately became dull.

4/5