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Ocean Software Ltd
1987
Arcade: Adventure
£7.95
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

37
Gwyn Hughes
Chris Bourne

Something miraculous has happened...licensing deals are alive! Yes, you read me right. A tie-in need not be a malfunction. Short Circuit is living proof that if time and trouble are taken over a title, it doesn't need to look like it was designed by a bored android.

I've not actually seen this movie, cute androids being anathema to me (Oi, watch it! Hex Loader). But I couldn't escape the publicity machine and as far as I can tell, this is quite close to the screen adventures of No 5, the military robot who develops a conscience.

It all takes place in two parts, and while undernourished 48K weaklings will have sand kicked in their faces by the split load, big butch 128-ers get it all in first time, with an enhanced soundtrack to boot! Everybody can play either part independently of the other though.

The meat of the game is in part one, where No 5 is trying to escape from the lab, once it - remember, we're talking hunks of metal here - has collected the vital lazer (sic) and jump mechanisms. There's an ingenious collection of logical puzzles that'll win over even dedicated anti-adventurers!

Using only four direction keys, plus select, Ocean has found a way of giving 5 total control over his environment, as he wanders through the characterless chambers of military bureaucracy. Normally the direction keys move him - sorry, it - around and fire scrolls through the options. But when 5 is in contact with furniture, and that includes doors, pressing fire brings the current action into play. After that the number keys are used to make selections.

The first thing you'll need to do is move up to a computer bench, having selected Link. This will give you the chance to download the first three vital programs. Others are available at other terminals. You'll need Search immediately, to let you pick things up, but you can't Drop them until you've delved further into the maze.

Don't overlook any possible place where objects could be hidden, and make sure you've found a way through the security doors before you become laden down. Even for a robot, the ability to Read is useful, especially if he's becoming more human by the minute. Learn all you can and use the objects logically and eventually you'll be out in the open air.

That takes us neatly to the second part, which is a decided let-down after the great beginning. No 5 trundles along a country lane, trying not to trample wildlife and ducking to let low flying sparrows past like some Greenpeace shopping trolley. There are robots in pursuit, but even blasting these takes its toll on 5's conscience. Unless he can outrun them he shuts down, suffering from depression.

The splattered bunnies, when 5 fails to dodge them, are most amusing, but while it's probably true to the film, this arcade sequence is a shallow let down after that superb first part. Okay, so it won me over. I believe that 5 is human. But only when he's compared with Rachael!

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Screenshot Text

The countryside stroll, with pot-holes to jump. Get 5 around the middle of the screen so he can avoid the animal life as it approaches, but be prepared to outrun the pursuers. The conscience level appears on the left, and if you're to complete the game you've got to prove your humanity.

In the lab and time is running out. On the right the printer scrolls messages, and if they move too fast to read you can use the movement keys to freeze them. The current program is shown on the right with the score. Picking up the right objects increases your points, so use it as an indicator.