1988
Arcade: Maze
£1.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Firebird BleepLoad

57
Chris Bourne

The Droldz of this Silverbird title are convenience robots, built by Man to do all the drudge work while he's off sunbathing or watching the telly. They lead a pretty dull life, there's no job satisfaction, something's gotta change.

So. all of a sudden, these electronic menials form themselves into a collective intelligence. Having realised how stupid they are, they decided to embark on a quest for knowledge. They all gather together down the local holographic Recreation Centre, and start hoarding pieces of technology. What for? Absolutely no reason whatsoever, as far as I can see.

Now, the people who built this chore corp are a bit miffed so they send in another of their constructions - a reconditioned Mk III battle walker. Needless to say, this lone combat machine must enter the complex, retrieve as many of the techno-gadgets as possible and engage in a little droid destruction.

This little beast carries a standard laser with which to protect himself, but he can also indulge in some self-customisation when he finds a suitable piece of equipment, there are five vital statistics which can be improved in this way, including: increased damage to Driodz on contact; decreased damage to the walker on contact with the Droidz; increased shot power; increased smart bomb power and an increased rate of fire. Each characteristic is represented by a small icon which may be collected up to five times the maximum efficiency, you're going to need the lot!

The complex is displayed using an overhead viewpoint, Gauntlet-style, and similarities to the Atari coin-op don't end there. In fact, the whole game is simply a one-player Gauntlet variant.

Other features of its arcade inspiration are there, including pushable and destructible blocks; solid, moving and removable walls; food for the walker (in the shape of batteries), collectable equipment, and LOADS of enemies.

The graphics are clear, colourful and nicely drawn, although the scrolling can be a little jerky at times. Similarly, the creature animation is simple but effective.

There are one or two niggling points, such as the fact that the walker can't move and blast at the same time, but overall I was impressed: each load contains several levels, and I think there are enough levels to keep even the most ardent blaster at it for years to come. And although there's no save option, each freshly loaded set of levels may be replayed, if desired, once your walker's energy has fizzled out.

The few levels that I managed to play through were well designed and interesting to play, many screens requiring a fair amount of strategic thinking. The later levels become extremely hectic and each new screen brings fresh problems to overcome. Great stuff - go get it now!

Label: Silverbird
Author: David Lyttle
Price: £1.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: None
Reviewer: ???

Brilliant budget Gauntlet clone, plenty of fun for the solo explorer.

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