The intrepid space explorer Olivia Lund has awoken from 200 years in hypersleep to find that her ship, the Polaris-7, has been captured by an ancient alien vessel – but there is no communication and no signs of life. The only way she can escape is to board the vessel and discover what lies inside... While the background to this text adventure may not be original, the game features a lot of descriptive and atmospheric prose with no graphics at all, and the difficulty level has been balanced nicely – although several puzzles can simply be solved by entering “use object” instead of a more specific combination of words that the parser doesn’t understand, which I found a bit annoying. However, more experienced players of text adventures should nonetheless find it a reasonable challenge to complete.
The original release of Hibernated 1 was widely acclaimed, but it was constrained by having to fit the entire game into the CPC’s memory. This new Director’s Cut (presumably a nice homage to Blade Runner) uses a development system that generates code that is compatible with the Z-machine used by Infocom, which enables much larger and more complex disc-based adventures to be produced. Indeed, the author has stated that “if Infocom had been asked to recreate the classic Hibernated, the Director’s Cut would have been the outcome,” and in my opinion, it meets the high standards of Infocom’s range of adventures. It’s got huge amounts of prose, a much more expansive parser, and is more challenging than the original release. If you like text adventures – even only slightly – you should definitely play this.
See also: Hibernated 1: This Place Is Death.
(Alternative Software, 1992)
Four levels of an underground complex have been contaminated with radiation, and it’s your job to manoeuvre a tank around each level and find eight lead blocks to shield the radiation source with. However, the complex contains many obstacles, such as doorways, one-way conveyor belts and force fields. Your tank also needs to be refuelled and rearmed constantly, and then there are the mutants... This is a simple game with very colourful graphics, and it’s quite appealing at first, but your tank moves very slowly, and given that there’s a lot of trudging around to be done, it will take ages to complete each level. It would have been a lot better if passwords were provided, to allow you to skip levels that you have already completed.
Reviewed by Robert Small
It’s the year 2040 and there has been a rather nasty outbreak on Earth that needs to be stopped. You play the role of a doctor tasked with taking to the streets to heal as many people as you can. How do you do this? By shooting them with a giant syringe. What this means for the player is a flick-screen shoot-’em-up. Graphically the game is very colourful. It looks as though you’re genuinely travelling through a town, with different buildings in the background and citizens scurrying about. The green sci-fi monster sprites are a highlight. The game suffers from slowdown and the flying bugs and criminals you encounter can become annoying. Sonically the game isn’t anything special. This could have been quite a good game but it’s average at best.
Reviewed by Robert Small
If anything screams 1980s, it’s games featuring space defence systems. Think SDI, for example. This isn’t an arcade game like Sega’s effort, though. More depth is on display and that means more time and effort from the player. There are quite a few nice things to mention. The adjustable difficulty, for one, as it isn’t just easy, normal, hard but acts as a tutorial by introducing different aspects. There’s a nice selection of weapons to play with and an option that allows you to do just that if you’re finding the rest of the game too intimidating – which it is. High Frontier isn’t a Spectrum port, but there is a sea of icons in Mode 0. Research and development, finance, conversations with the president, weapon systems, spying, information about the enemy – it’s all on screen and it’s a bit much. Maybe it could be simplified and higher resolution Mode 1 graphics might have been better for this strategy game to really shine.
(Screen 7, 1989)
You’re a builder who belongs to a company which constructs skyscrapers. On each level, you have to build floors using the girders and bricks supplied by the overhead crane. Each floor requires a row of at least five bricks. When you’ve created a floor, you can climb up the girders to build the next one. But this building site is overrun with strange creatures who will make your life difficult, and you must also watch out for bricks falling from the sky! Some of these hazards will merely knock you out for a short time, while others cause you to lose one of your three lives. The graphics are colourful and cartoony, and the music is cute as well. It’s a nice game once you understand the rules, although by the fifth level, the amount of monsters becomes overwhelming.
Connor MacLeod was born in the Scottish Highlands in 1518. After surviving a fatal wound in 1536, he learns that he is an immortal – a group of people who can only be killed by decapitation, and who fight each other through time, in a quest to gain The Prize. This is a sword-fighting game with three levels which each load separately. Each level sees you fighting against a different opponent. In the first level, you fight your tutor, the swordsman Ramirez. Aman Fasil is your opponent in the second level, which is set in New York in 1985, and in the third level, you face Kurgan, who by this stage is the only other immortal remaining. All of the levels are more or less identical in terms of gameplay, and the graphics, music and sound effects are nothing special at all.
(Vortex Software, 1985)
A nasty collection of aliens has invaded a planet, and they’ve brought a powerful weapon with them. Only the Vortons can stop them. Your task is to guide the Vortons and their counter-weapon, the Lasertron, through a series of obstacles spread over thirty zones, and only when you reach zone zero can the Lasertron be activated. The graphics are quite good, even if none of the sprites are multi-coloured, but there isn’t much in the way of sound effects. Nonetheless, it’s still a challenging game which requires a lot of thought as well as good reflexes.
See also: Alien Highway.
Ever fancied being a police cop and driving around the highways of America in pursuit of criminals? It sounds thrilling, but this game is one of the best cures for insomnia I’ve ever played! Your car is fitted with a guide that tells you how far away the criminal is, but it’s very difficult to find him, and all you end up doing is driving around, looking at the same flat scenery all the time, and occasionally seeing a car pass in the opposite direction. The animated sequences played before and after the game are very good – in fact they’re the best thing about this awful, monotonous excuse for a game.
Reviewed by Missas
Hire Hare is an isometric 3D arcade adventure where you take the role of Hecatia, a sorceress who needs to find her way around a castle and confront the warlock Lycurgus. You can also collect keys to open chests, but this won’t be easy; a great variety of enemies will try to stop you in your quest! Starting with the graphics, they are nothing less than console quality with impressively fluid animation and design. Frequently there are many sprites on screen without this causing any slowdown in the frame rate. A nice tune plays throughout the game, but there are no sound effects. The gameplay is faster than it is in most games of the same genre and there are many screens to explore and spells to cast. The atmosphere of this game is mesmerising. It is a gem for our machine.
See also: Dire Dare.