Argus is not taking any chances with The Tube.
In the various sections of the game you get to play just about every arcade game genre you can name.
It begins with a section that looks suspiciously like Twister Mother of Charlotte (remember that!!!), stage two looks like Scramble and the final main section is like, well, like games where you view a spaceship from above and guide it over a planet surface. Each section is played under a time limit and you have to play through each section each time. There is even an sort of bonus screen which is quite amazingly like the sort of quick-thinking logic games Hewson likes to incorporate in its products. Is all this bad? Probably not.
The first section is probably the least interesting and as such is badly placed from a 'first impressions' point of view. You seem to be travelling into the screen through a grid-like structure towards the tube at the centre of the screen. Towards you rush assorted aliens and fireballs wizzing from one corner of the screen to the other and generally threatening to smack straight into your cockpit window.
The problems with this section are, first, it is impossible to die - only your energy and score levels are affected and, second, graphically it is none too hot.
Section two is better. It's like that age old coin-op Scramble. For those who don't remember it, Scramble works like this: your spaceship moves left to right through a system of caverns, whilst simultaneously guiding your ship up and down to steer your way through between the twisting walls of the cavern whilst dodging assorted missiles which float up and/or down from the cavern walls.
In The Tube's own particular Scramble variant your way is sometimes blocked by a vertical laser that must be blasted away before you can travel on further. It isn't astoundingly difficult and would be easy if you weren't still on a time limit. The graphics are nothing special, though good enough. There is an attempt at the kind of relative scrolling you see constantly on the C64 but here it's OK but nothing too special.
What happens in the third section depends on your performance in the first two.
The third section is the catchment area and it is your chance to boost the energy level of your ship by looting other ships for energy diamonds. How many ships you find in the catchment area is a function of your joystick (keyboard) control, your score level and your energy level from parts one and two.
It works like this: you view your spaceship from above steering it over a planet surface looking for grounded ships. The steering aspect is not too difficult but, as ever, you can't afford to waste time. On finding a ship you line up with it exactly, nose to nose. Then a docking rod extends from the front of your ship to the other. This leads you to what I will refer to (with no suggestion of rip-offness intended) as 'the Hewson bit'. In order to get the crystals (if there are any - some ships are barren) you need - within yet another time limit - to trace two circuit lines from their point of origin to the 'win' gate.
To actually win the game you need to amass an energy level which will require the successful looting of at least four energy crystals.
Curiously for such a bitty game the whole is greater than the sum of its parts - the way the performance in one level relates directly to what happens on other levels links the game together nicely and I found myself playing it more than the individual averageness of the particular sections might suggest.
Take note though, I found it fairly easy to get through all the sections once so if you're a joystick wizz kid you may not find it enough of a challenge.
Author: Martin Gannon
Reviewer: Graham Taylor
Something for fans of every kind of shoot-em-up. No section is astounding but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
THE TUBE 128K
Only one difference with the 128K version of The Tube but it's an important one - music. The soundtrack to The Tube by Dave Whittaker is simply astounding. Check out last month's music feature for a more detailed description of it. It adds a tremendous amount to the game but. sadly, the best bits don't play when the game does - the temptation to sit at the control select screen and just listen to it is almost too much. More of this kind of stuff please.