Your Sinclair


Author: Mike Gerrard
Publisher: Mastertronic Added Dimension
Machine: Spectrum 48K/128K/+2

Published in Your Sinclair #19


There's something wrong in Paradise! Its capital city of Amaurote has been taken over by hordes of giant insects and guess whose job it is to get rid of them? No, not Rentokil, the line's been permanently engaged for the last six months. It's down to you to get out there into the city's 25 districts and 2500 screens and rid them of those evil creatures with the wobbly antennae.

You're not going out there unarmed, though. You're in command of an armoured vehicle known as Arachnus 4, deadlier than a dozen cans of Flit. And so it should be, at the price. Yes, if your Arachnus 4 needs repairing or replacing then you have to cough up the readies yourself, but as your boss gives you $5,000,000 pocket money you shouldn't complain too much. If it was me I'd say knickers to the insects and take the money and run, but no, a sense of duty prevails. Besides I want to see how these bouncing bombs work, not to mention the Supa Bomb you can also buy out of your pocket money. You'll need that if you encounter the Queen insect.

There are three types of insect around, all of them nasty. Scouts fly about and look for food and intruders, and as you probably qualify on both counts that's bad news. Scouts just report your presence to headquarters, though, so they're not too bad but always worth lobbing a bomb at. Drones are the ones on the ground, and they'll plod after you forever and a day, so if you don't want a mandible nibbling at your nether regions you're also advised to dispose of these pronto, if not sooner. The Queen is the third type, and she sits around giving orders, eating, and giving birth. Kill a minion and it's instantly replaced by Queenie, but this takes her longer if she hasn't been fed for a while, hence the need to kill drones and scouts as efficiently as possible. There seems to be more going on off-screen in this game than on-screen in some others!

On-screen is pretty impressive, though, and there are inevitable comparisons to be made with Ultimate games and the ancient but still revered (by me anyway) Ant Attack. Your craft moves about the 3D screen using keyboard controls - the cassette cover says joystick as well but the instructions don't mention this and there's no initial control option when the game loads. The ordinary bombs are great fun to use, though a little tricky too as you can only launch one at a time, in the direction you're moving, and then they bounce along till they encounter either an insect or a building. Radar tells you which direction the nearest insect, bomb or the Queen is, and the Z/X/C keys switch between these. V changes screen colours and CAPS SHIFT radios base to call up extra bombs, the Supa Bomb, repairs or rescue (in other words QUIT). You have to clear one area of pests before moving on to the next.

The sound on this is a bit feeble, but the smooth and detailed graphics more than make up for it. The trick in playing is to follow the radar arrows towards the nearest insect, then launch a bomb and run away as soon as you get it in line with you - drones are pretty dumb and travel straight towards you when they know you're there. If the bomb misses them then it's bad luck for you as it carries on bouncing merrily along till it hits something else and explodes, but your Arachnus 4 can shift itself just slightly faster than the average insect. And this game will probably shift itself swiftly off the shop shelves (try saying that after two glasses of Vimto) and be up the charts quicker than a rat up a drainpipe. Now there's poetry for you.

Mike Gerrard

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