Dan Dare

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Machine: Commodore 64

Published in Computer & Video Games #61

Dan Dare

Now, as I said last issue, Dan Dare on the C64 is a totally different game from the Spectrum/Amstrad versions. But fear not, it's just as good, in fact it may be better.

In case you didn't read last month's review (Why not?) here is the basic storyline. Dan is about to receive awards for his various brave acts during the last few years when the Mekon (Yes, that little green one) shows up on everybody's telly demanding control of the earth and a packet of choccy biscuits.

Anyway, being a superdooper hero, Dan can't let the Earth fall under control of the Mekon and he sets out with his friends, who are Digby, Prof Peabody, and Digby's alien pet Stripy, to save the world.

Dan Dare: Pilot Of The Future

First off, Dan thinks it would be a good idea if the friends split into groups to cover more ground. Off he trots with Stripy, and Digby goes with the Prof.

Just when Dan gets round the corner, he sees the others get captured by the Treens, who are the Mekon's helpers, and now he must rescue them, as well as saving the world. What a day this is going to be!

The game is best thought of as having four sections. These are One: Above Ground, where Dan must find a way into the underground city. Two: The Prison Complex, which is where Dan's chums are being held. Three: The Laser. Dan must use the laser to destroy the computers controlling the asteroid. Finally four: The Mekon. Dan must destroy the Mekon's dome.

Dan Dare: Pilot Of The Future

Above ground Dan must solve various puzzles in order to find an entrance to the City. There is more than one entrance and Dan need only find one to get in. But he must find the others to complete the game with 100 per cent.

The puzzles include an electrified hatch which Dan must open, and he also has to work out a way to breathe underwater.

Before I go on, I'd like to tell you about the control method. Normal left/right/up/down controls are just plain and simple, but selecting actions is a real joy. When a caption appears on the screen it will be in one of four colours. If it is red, it will say something like: "A Treen is nearby," and you must try to avoid him or, for the more rough type, you can challenge him to a bout of fisticuffs.

Dan Dare: Pilot Of The Future

If the caption is either cyan or green, it will display a message that is relevant to the situation at that time. To make it a little clearer, if you are standing on a hatch it will say: "Dan has found a hatch".

Now if you decide to do something with this hatch, you can select various options with the stick and then choose the one you want.

The only caption left is white, which tells you the outcome of your actions. Now, back to the game.

Dan Dare: Pilot Of The Future

The next part is the prison. Here Dan runs up and down ladders, in and out of doors and has the odd punch up with a Treen or two.

Dan must get passcards and use them to open the prison doors to get his friends out.

The laser is all set to fire and if Dan hits the button it will do so, but if Dan looks further he will see reflections in other parts of the complex and using them he can guide the laser's path and use it to destroy the control computers. Here Dan will find the Mekon!

Dan Dare: Pilot Of The Future

The Mekon sits in his large dome, all ready to kill Dan by firing energy bolts at him, so using his grenades Dan must destroy the enemy and get back to his ship with his friends. Will he do it? Only you can decide...

One thing that makes the game a little difficult is Dan will not leave without his buddies. You must rescue them to get out alive.

The screen graphics of all locations are excellent. They look like cartoon backdrops and the characters are very good too. Stripy leaps about doing his own version of the Impossible Mission somersault and he makes a weird sort of sound which, although good, can get on your nerves at times.

The sound is fairly poor though apart from a small jingle at the beginning which is repeated when you pause the game.

Of course, no arcade adventure could be complete without a timer, so your mission ends at 1300 hours, and you start at 1200!

Dan Dare is a super-cool game which deserves all the credit it gets! Well done Virgin.