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Martech Games Ltd
Arcade: Adventure
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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Tamara Howard
Chris Bourne

We're talking 3D here. Battle Zone style vector line graphics gone haywire in Martech's Catch 23. That's the style. Now the plot: a mixture of Mission Impossible, The Avengers and Thunderbirds.

You get parachuted down on to a deserted island to go and blow up some new weapon - the CK23 - and put out of action everyone on the base.

Catch 23 is a complicated item. You can tell this primarily from the large instruction booklet that comes in the box. So you have at least some advanced warning of what you're up against.

Normally I'm not a big fan of 3D line graphic games. I like things that are solid, and if there's a nasty surprise around the corner, well, I'd rather not see it through the walls of a deserted farmhouse. Know what I mean? But Catch 23 is slightly more appealing, I think. Mainly because it's all so well done, and you know where you're at with it. There's no faffing around, trying to turn cuboids or dodecahedrons upside down and inside out.

If you come across anything interesting as you move around you switch to Investigate Mode All-purpose, multi-use, incredibly exciting and convenient. Press I and a magnifying glass will appear, which you can position over the object of your choice.

Being a 3D vector effort means every step you take (there's got to be a good opening for a song in that line) updates the screen one pace towards you, accompanied by the gentle tap, tap of your footsteps. The movement is, as you'd expect, a bit jerky but not annoyingly so and the buildings do have this tendency to wobble slightly.

It's also, curiously, possible to walk into the buildings through the walls. Once you're in though, getting out is a bit of a problem. Every way you turn seems to be marked 'Way Blocked'. At this point it's best to thump the joystick and just keep going round in a circle, and the way out will eventually open itself up to you.

Apart from buildings, the landscape features some rather old trees, but not a lot else.

Certain objects are vital to the success of your mission, whether it be a question of avoiding them or picking them up. First off on the avoiding front are the enemy guards. They can only be shot in the chest, and refuse to be affected when shot anywhere else. There are two types of guards, one quite far away, and one standing slap bang in front of you with the muzzle of his rifle straight up your nose. Not a pretty sight. Still, stay cool and shoot him, he'll go away pretty fast.

There are one or two nice bits, like shuttles which you can board, which take the leg-work out of exploring the island. And you can pick up the ond bit of spare equipment here and there and make the odd bomb.

The graphics are truly impressive. Malcolm Smith has, says Martech, managed to move more things around the screen in 3D than ever before, and I'm inclined to agree. You might imagine that the 3D black and white line graphics could get boring after a while, and to an extent they do, but the potential tedium is broken by the arrival of the guards who are a trifle on the solid side.

And despite the complex instructions, when you get down to playing the simple controls mean that you're not always left referring to the instruction leaflet for the how and why as to blowing up the base whilst someone' s letting off a mine in your direction.

Altogether, I found Catch 23 more than a little addictive. Nice one Martech.

Label: Martech
Price: £8.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Tamara Howard

3D vector line graphics thrash. Impressive game to look at, easy to get into, and hard to put down.