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Psyclapse
1989
Arcade: Maze
£9.99
English
ZX Spectrum 128K
None

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53
Sean Kelly
Chris Bourne

The planet of Icarus, conveniently made up of 20 levels, has been invaded. Its swarming with billions of nasty Blaster-trons, and it's 'only one brave, expert, strong, stupid man for the job' time again - but with a difference! For, if you find someone as brave and daft as you, you both get to battle simultaneously against the 'orrible 'ordes. 'Cos Cap'n Fizz is a split-screen one or two player blasterama. Coo!

Your aim, of course, is to kill all the Blaster-trons. And to do this you must charge round the large sectors, in a view-from-above screen layout, shooting anything that moves, and collecting pods to increase your shield strength and credit ratings. But this isn't all, cor blimey no. Along the way passes must be collected to allow you through certain doors, and it is only when all the passes have been collected, and all the Blaster-trons killed, that the exit to the next level opens up. Now, slap me with a wet codpiece and beat me about the head with a cricketer's box if I'm wrong, but this sounds an awful lot like Gauntlet, don't it?

And indeed it is a lot like Gauntlet, but with enough differences to make it a worthwhile update of the old formula. There is a strong element of strategy involved, with switches to be hit in a certain sequence to open barriers for a few seconds, enabling you to chunder through, collecting the booty and run away. Realise that you haven done everything you should have before crossing the barrier, and you could find yourself stuck in a sector with no exit, with nothing left to do but wait for the grim reaper. Yikes!

The graphics, although tiny, are excellently coloured. In fact the use of colour throughout is thoughtful and intelligent. Even the sound, though a bit been enhances the gameplay. It's not all good though. The way in which the screen flips rather than scrolls is pretty confusing, and quite often I was puzzled as to why I couldn't move in a certain direction, only to find later that there was a wall just off screen.

The two player game is great fun, being very similar to Gauntlet in this respect, with team work having an appeal all of its own and advancing you much faster. Progress seemed adequate in one player mode, and I managed to get to the third level before dying. At this point, however, after a little while playing, I got a quick message about 'not enough time' or something and died for no apparent reason. This happened a couple of times, and I wonder if any advance beyond the third level is impossible unless you have two players? This seems to be indicated on the packaging, which goes on and on about 'united you stand, divided you fall' and stuff like that. In my eyes this is a major disadvantage, as you must wait until you can find a bud with the same tastes as you before you can really get anywhere in the game. The rest of the time it's just languishing on the shelf.

It's the lack of scrolling and necessity of two players which prevents the game from getting a higher mark, but apart from the aforementioned gripes, this is quite an addictive little number, well presented and thoughtfully designed. I daresay Psyclapse will be a label to watch out for.

A fun Gauntlet clone, with some original extra elements which make it really playable. A good start from Psyclapse.

75%
80%
80%
76%
78%

Screenshot Text

Blast those trons, collect your pods and, open Sesame, it's on to the next level.

Stop cowering in that corner. Get out there and face it like a man.

Phew! For a moment there I thought it said 'Music by Roger Whittaker'. ("For you are beautiful..." Davey) (Shut up. Ed)