Screenshot of Mercenary


(Novagen, 1987)

Reviewed by Robert Small

Can you escape the planet Targ, which is in the midst of a civil war? You won’t have to do it alone, at least, as you have a friendly AI called Benson to help you. Explore on foot, pilot craft, take on missions to earn money, and shoot unfriendly forces – all in a day’s work for a mercenary, and all essential if you’re going to get off Targ. Mercenary combines adventure, shoot-’em-up and strategy alongside some nice vector graphics. It’s a smooth experience with good controls. There’s plenty to do and the game even has a sense of humour. It’s a shame the CPC never saw any of the sequels, but a one-off visit to Targ is one offer I’d suggest you take.

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Screenshot of Mercs


(US Gold, 1991)

A former US president has been kidnapped while touring central Africa, but instead of sending in an army, the American government has chosen an elite group of mercenaries headed by yourself to rescue him. You must shoot and blast your way through eight levels of non-stop mayhem as soldiers fire at you from all sides. It’s a fairly standard shoot-’em-up, but a rather good one. There are lots of weapons to be collected, and there’s a good variety of end-of-level opponents to be blown apart as well. The graphics are clear and colourful, the music is OK (but not brilliant), and the difficulty level is just about perfectly set. This is a game that is well worth checking out.

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Screenshot of Merlin


(Bretagne Edit’ Presse, 1987)

Reviewed by Pug

In Merlin, you are tasked with collecting all the sacred objects that have been scattered among various screens. Each screen is essentially a small, maze-like layout that contains a few of these items. The solitary guardian found on each screen that chases you can pass through all matter – very frustrating at times. There are no weapons or spells to combat this threat, and frustration will gradually increase. The graphics are colourful, but the two sprites on screen do have a wooden look when moving around. This game is a very poor rip-off of Sorcery that looks and feels like a type-in listing.

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Screenshot of Mermaid Madness

Mermaid Madness

(Electric Dreams, 1986)

Myrtle isn’t a typical gorgeous, sexy mermaid; she’s tubby and overweight, and she has seen Gormless Gordon the diver. Unfortunately for Myrtle, Gordon doesn’t want to marry her and runs into the sea, with Myrtle chasing him. However, Gordon becomes stuck underwater and as Myrtle, you only have a short time to find him and rescue him. This is an arcade adventure where you collect objects and use them to access other areas of the map. While the graphics are great and have a nice cartoon feel, and the music is also atmospheric, the gameplay is frustrating – Myrtle can be difficult to control, and it’s far too easy to get stuck together with one of the many sea creatures and lose a lot of your energy.

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Screenshot of Message from Andromeda

Message from Andromeda

(Interceptor Software, 1984)

Reviewed by Piero Serra

On patrol in deep space, you receive a distress message from a nearby planet. Choosing to fly down to the surface and investigate, once docked at the space port you find your ship has been locked in place by a tractor beam. Has someone tricked you into coming here for their own nefarious reasons? This simple text adventure has the right balance of difficulty with some puzzles requiring a little thought, some a bit of luck, but for the most part the solutions seem to come fairly easily. The main problem is that there are lots of locations (I counted 50) but almost all of them are empty with no extra description beyond their name. There are alien guards to evade, which adds to the tension, and serviceable graphics for some locations. If you like space-based text adventures this is worth playing, but I wouldn’t call it anything particularly special.

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Screenshot of Metal Army

Metal Army

(Players, 1988)

General Ironside and his Metal Army have infiltrated Slough nuclear power station, planted a bomb in it, and threatened to blow it up. As Harry Chainsaw (nice name), you have to deactivate the bomb, but the Metal Army are going to make this rather difficult for you, and because they’ve wrecked some parts of the station, you also have to dodge the leaks of toxic coolant gas. You’ll need to collect the green cards which are lying about in order to open some doors, including the ones to the room where the bomb is stored. It’s standard platform fare, and frustrating as well; although you have nine lives, they are quickly lost, and getting out of the first room takes some practice. The graphics are colourful, but it’s a shame that the game is so difficult.

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Screenshot of Metalyx


(Alternative Software, 1987)

Asteroids has always been a classic game, and this is a simple remake of it, although apart from the graphics, nothing new has been added to it. The aim is simply to blast all the meteors off the screen, but when you shoot a meteor, it splits into two more meteors, and these meteors will also split into two meteors, so there will be problems if you shoot randomly! Your spaceship is also difficult to control, and getting out of a tricky situation where a barrage of meteors is heading your way requires some skill. However, there’s nothing exciting about this game; the screen is far too small, there is only one (yes, one) sound effect, and you can’t shoot accurately.

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Screenshot of Metaplex


(Addictive, 1988)

Inside an asteroid is a labyrinthine complex known as Metaplex, where the evil Garth is planning to destroy Earth. You must assassinate Garth, but first you must weaken him by dropping acid on four power units scattered around the complex. You must first find a flask, then find the tank of acid so you can fill the flask before you can destroy a power unit. The complex contains numerous aliens which will deplete the shield of your craft; if your shield runs out then you must find a new craft. There are also security control units which will activate or disable certain doors and barriers, but there are so many combinations that it needlessly makes the game more complicated than it should be. The graphics are relatively poor, and the size of the labyrinth makes this a tedious, run-of-the-mill game.

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Screenshot of Metrocross


(US Gold, 1987)

Hurtle down obstacle-strewn corridors in a race against time. This challenge requires very fast reflexes and an ability to predict the oncoming obstacles and the best way to dodge them. The corridor is riddled with slime tiles that slow you down, hurdles to jump over, glass panels that will break if you run across them, among other hazards. Fortunately, there are springboards and skateboards to help you out, and you can also jump on cans to make you run a lot faster or stop the clock temporarily. The first few levels are quite easy to complete, but on subsequent levels, the time limit becomes very tight and you can’t afford to make any mistakes! The graphics and tune are both very jolly as well, and it’s a great game overall.

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Screenshot of Metropolis


(The Power House, 1988)

Moonboots is an explorer who has somehow managed to end up lost in Metropolis. Now he has to find his spaceship and return to his home on the moon. From the moment you start playing this game, it’s clear that it was influenced by the Wally Week series of games, as the style of gameplay is exactly the same – walking around collecting objects (and you can only carry two at a time) and using them to reach new locations or perform tasks. Unfortunately, it’s absolutely horrible to play. For a start, the graphics are seriously ugly. It’s a Spectrum port, complete with colour clash as well, and Moonboots walks very slowly, so it takes ages to walk from one place to another. This is a very poor and very dull game which will seriously test your patience if you play it!

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