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1985
Arcade: Maze
£3.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

Other Links


20
Chris Bourne

A team of Egyptologists have accidentally been trapped within the deep recesses of a newly discovered ancient maze-tomb. Their oxygen is rapidly running out and they manage to send out a plea for help on their radio transmitter in the hope that someone, somewhere will here their cry for help. Well someone does. Their call is received by Thunderbird Five, orbiting high in the stratosphere and it is John Tracy, member of International Rescue who hears the Egyptologists' message. The information is soon relayed to International Rescue's base and Thunderbirds One and Two are scrambled into action.

This is where you come in. After sitting through a multi channel rendition of the Thunderbirds theme, the game starts on a menu screen, where you choose the equipment you wish Thunderbird 2 to carry. Thunderbird 2 can move a forty ton payload, and you must choose your equipment accordingly. A variety of useful items and equipment is available, including Thunderbird 4, The Mole, weed killer, earthquake bombs and scanning equipment as well as extra fuel. For each tonne of equipment you take you forfeit a hundred of the two thousand points you start with. Moving a pointer labelled select against the name of an item and pressing fire causes it to be loaded into Thunderbird 2.

The action flips to the launch screen once you've loaded up. In a blaze of pixels Thunderbird One takes off, followed by Thunderbird 2 unless it's overloaded in which case the overweight message is flashed up and some of the equipment chosen has to be replaced. The Egyptian tomb is split into many rooms, each bordered and split into a maze with character wide squares. Both Thunderbird One and Thunderbird Two are in the tomb, though you can only control one at a time. The ships move in the four basic joystick directions with the control being switched between the two via the fire button.

The idea of the game is to pass through the mazes to reach and rescue the scientists. The trouble is, some of the passages are blocked with coloured slabs of stone and others are not wide enough to allow Thunderbird Two to pass. Blocks can be moved by nudging then with the craft. While red blocks can be shifted by either ship, Blue blocks can only be moved by Thunderbird One while green ones only respond to Thunderbird Two. At times the two ships will have to co-operate closely to clear a path. A limiting factor introduced to make the game a bit more difficult is the inability to swap control when the ships are on adjacent screens: you have to be two screens away or on the same sheet as the other Thunderbird to change control.

Throughout the game when you come onto a sheet where a piece of the equipment you've chosen to bring can be used the relevant machines comes automatically into action.

Other little problems confront you later in the game it's not all block moving and passage clearing there's water to be passed and insects to be bypassed to mention just a couple of hazards held in store but there's also some treasure to be collected if you're in the mood. All the time you're in flight, fuel is being used, and while there are supplies to be found in the tomb, it's quite possible to run out... It's quite possible to get stuck on a screen, with the way forward blocked so you can save a game position out and reload Eater if you think you're about to make a fatal mistake.

CRITICISM

'Though Thunderbirds is quite an enjoyable logic game I must admit to being disappointed - the Thunderbirds series could have given rise to a really brilliant game. As it stands, Thunderbirds is an original, but ultimately simple game. Not a bad idea, but nothing exceptional. The graphics move poorly and don't look too wonderful. The music is very good though and gives a surprisingly accurate rendition of the Thunderbirds theme music. I don't think this game is really worth of Firebird's Super Silver label although it can be quite enjoyable.'

'Thunderbirds is a bit of a let down for me. I had imagined a fantastic game of really high quality, and this didn't live up to my expectations. The graphics are large and nicely animated but they're a little primitive; there's a nice tune but it tends to get on your nerves after a while. I enjoyed playing Thunderbirds for a while, but it got a bit boring, solving the same kind of puzzles continually.'

'It's a shame really - this game almost loses out because of the name it's got to live up to. Thunderbirds, the game, has some nice touches, like the title screen and music and general scenario, all of which tie it in with the telly programs - but what on earth are Thunderbirds One and Two doing flying round inside a giant Egyptian Tomb? Solving puzzles, that's what pal. Neat puzzles, tricky puzzles, but not Thunderbirds are Go puzzles. It's almost a waste of a name this one - little more than the shape of the ships and the theme tune ties it into the TV series. In its own right, though, not a bad little game.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: definable
Joystick: Kempston.
Keyboard play: responsive
Use of colour: not always in the best of taste!
Graphics: large graphics that avoid colour clash but are a bit chunky
Sound: excellent multi-channel tune, very good indeed.
Skill levels: 1
Screens:
General Rating: A good game for puzzle and logic problem enthusiasts.

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Screenshot Text

The swimming pool. Pretty start screen for the puzzling THUNDERBIRDS game from Firebird. Not a trivial task, to plot your way through the underground maze of the game proper.