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Tom Prosser
Arcade: Maze
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Chris Bourne

Far into the future, a mad scientist called Professor Brainstorm (P Brain for short) created a system for cloning any living creature. Generally, the idea went down none too well and led to P Brain becoming a recluse on a desolate planet, deep in the centre of the universe.

In the best tradition of mad' scientists, he built a castle where he could continue his weird experiments. The creation of a 'warp tunnel' allowed him to capture creatures to experiment on. Of course, also in the best tradition (this time the one to do with The Fate of Evil Men) the professor's experimental results turned against him. They ate their creator, once they realised there wasn't a burger bar for several thousand light years. As time passed, they grew bigger and weirder and generally had a lot of fun romping round in the professor's castle. Oh yes, they grew hungrier too. Important point, that.

This is where you, Robin Banks, come in. You happen to be passing by, when the ancient but still active warp tunnel sucks you inside the castle. As far as the other creatures are concerned, Supper's Ready! And very, very late. To avoid becoming the futuristic version of a quarter-pounder, escape from the castle is imperative. That implies a lot of searching . . . for keys to open doors and the appropriate weapons to destroy Eight Guardians.

There are twenty eight different kinds of potential 'consumer' and although some of them bare a rather unnerving resemblance to cart wheels, they are all just as deadly. The screens flick-change, rather than scroll, and various nasties are sure to materialise soon after you enter a new screen. You travel 'Jet Pack' style, laser handy and one good shot dispenses with most unwanted company.

There are also eight guardians to be dispensed with. These vary from a snake head, to such things as a teapot. To get rid of these guys, special weaponry is needed. There are sixteen special weapons lying around for eradication of guardians, but eight of them are useless. To make things that bit more complex, the correct weapon for each guardian must be found and used to zap it.

It's only possible to carry one special weapon and up to three keys at a time. Objects carried are displayed at the bottom of the screen alongside two gauges. One gauge indicates the damage you've sustained as a result of collisions with clones while the other displays your energy level. Energy can be used to repair damage, but if you run out of energy then the laser packs up. If you suffer too much damage, then you lose a life. Both Energy and Damage readings can be improved by collecting damage repair and energy pods, and the odd extra life can be found.


'The game is reasonably good to play for a while. It's quite tricky to avoid the hundreds of creatures constantly trying to bump you off, though and I must admit to not getting very far. It comes down to whether or not you like simple shoot 'em ups with a few problems to get your brain ticking. It's fast enough, and there's plenty to see on the screen but none of it struck me as stunning. For the money, it's not bad. Highly derivative stuff that could provide some fun.'

'Maybe it was just our copy, but sometimes, when the creatures appeared on the screen, they left a few of their pixels behind, picking them up later on, if they crossed that area again. Sloppy, if it's a ubiquitous bug. Some of the rooms are cleverly designed but unimpressive graphics detract from their appeal. If you're an expert at Jetpac et al, then you should find this one no problem at all. Even at £1.99 though, this kind of thing is beginning to look more than a little dated.'

'After Bubble Bus's copy of Sabre Wulf, I see they have now resorted to copying the even older Jetpac. Unfortunately, there are too many similarities. I haven't much sympathy for companies who use the excuse of a cheap price to copy other games. There's no originality to be found in the plot either - that's reminiscent of Atic Atac. After Starquake I know that Bubble Bus can do better. A run of the mill game really. Let's hope they release some original games for the rest of their budget range.'

Control keys: Q up, 0 left, P right, pick up/drop A, any key on bottom row fires laser, 1-4 or H-L to repair damage, ENTER to pause
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair, Cursor
Keyboard play: no problems
Use of colour: average, not wonderful
Graphics: unremarkable
Sound: poor
Skill levels: one
Screens: 650
General Rating: Not bad for the money, but nothing new or original.


Screenshot Text

Loonie wheels, mad tadpoles and all you have to combat them is your jetpack and wits in BRAINSTORM from Bubble Bus.