C&VG1st August 1988
Published in Computer & Video Games #82
US Gold's Desolator is based on the little-known Sega coin-op, Halls Of Kairos (perhaps 'unknown Sega coin-op' might be a better phrase, for no-one I know has even seen the machine!).
Involving the exploits of the imaginatively titled hero, Mac, the player is sent on a rescue mission inside the forbidding walls of the castle owned by the great Satan, Kairos.
The castle interior scrolls vertically down the screen as Mac wends his weary way through corridors and chambers of the stone fortress. The aim is to release the many tiny infants - or 'Peters' (!) - who have been captured and are held captive within mirrors adorning the castle walls. A press of the fire button sees Mac shatter each mirror with a mighty punch, allowing the children to escape and scurry about. Mac then attempts to collect the rampaging kiddies before they disappear off-screen. On collecting six Peters, a temporary Power-up is granted, turning Mac into the invincible machoman and enabling him to cut a swathe of destruction through the castle without gaining so much as a scratch.
Castle Karios is a vertiable menagerie, containing a variety of weird and wonderful opponents to beat. Depending upon the version played, there are up to ten different adversaries, ranging from moronic henchman who simply wander around sapping Mac's energy on contact, to the dreaded Kairos himself. Mac's punching abilities are not limited to inanimate objects, however, and he repels his aggressors with a single deft blow.
Further opposition is provided in the shape of laser-spitting ornaments, land mines and barrels which roll around the floor. According to the instructions, punching barrels turns them into weapons which Mac can then use. I tried this repeatedly but simply got rolled over: either this function wasn't working on the review copy - or it's incredibly difficult to affect.
Mac's mission is aided by activating a large array of devices which have differing, but generally destructive effects on visible characters. He can also collect a limited supply of bombs and perform acrobatic forward 'flips' - in practice, a totally useless activity.
The action offers by Desolator isn't the most original or interesting I've ever seen. Progress is slow and the gameplay is marred by niggling faults, such as the fact that Mac can't move and punch at the same time. The incessant hordes of enemies which constantly assail our poor hero also help to make this game a rather short affair.
Overall, Desolator is an average game that offers a reasonable amount of entertainment - take it or leave it.