Equinox (Mikro-Gen) Review | Amstrad Action - Everygamegoing

Amstrad Action


Equinox
By Mikro-Gen
Amstrad CPC464/664/6128

 
Published in Amstrad Action #10

Equinox

It's back to the mines for Mikro-Gen with another topical game, this time all about the disposal of radioactive canisters. The game is a colourful exploration game, but with a good dose of puzzles and arcade action thrown in. Eight canisters have to be disposed of in the eight levels of the asteroid mine - and that's tougher than trying to get Wally Week to go on a diet.

This noble end is achieved using a spherical disposal droid, the instructions and a lot of hard work. On each of the eight levels the droid has to find a radioactive canister and get rid of it down a disposal chute, then find a pass to take him to the next level. To complete these tasks he has to overcome several obstacles and avoid the menace of the alien creatures that roam the mining complex. Each level must be completed before the radioactive canister explodes and ends the game.

The droid that you control can be moved around in any direction, but consumes fuel when it's thrusting upwards. It can carry one object at a time and has the vital ability to shoot marauding aliens. Fuel and laser power have to be replenished from time to time otherwise the craft will be left without uplift or defence. Control is in general fairly easy but you have to pay constant attention to movement and that's very wearing.

The rooms in the mine are attractive and colourfully drawn although some of them are quite bare. There's all sorts of mining equipment that's been left lying around to brighten up the view, but you won't have much time to admire it because the aliens materialise on every screen. These are also colourfully designed and after appearing start whizzing around screen, randomly bouncing off walls and objects.

The aliens can be destroyed with your laser fire but after a few seconds they reappear. The threat they pose is a serious one because prolonged contact (about half a second) will cause the droid to explode and you to lose a life. You don't actually bump into the aliens but pass through them, so that if your droid accidentally moves along the same path as that taken by an alien it spells disaster - unless you have very quick reactions and can alter direction in time.

This loss of life is a source of annoyance because it's very much a matter of luck as to whether an alien takes the same course as the droid, and there are only three very precious lives. A better system would have been for the aliens to gradually drain the droid's energy, which he could then replace in the same manner as fuel and laser power.

The puzzles are fairly straightforward because you can only carry one object at a time. In most cases it's a chain reaction of using one object to get at another. The difficulty lies in performing the actions in the right order, particularly where teleporters are concerned. You need a credit (coin) to use a teleporter, and there is only a limited number of these, so that a wrong move may cost you the game.

This makes a pleasing departure from Mikro-Gen's previous games but has their hallmark of excellent graphics and tough gameplay. The puzzle solving is easy to get into but completing the game is a tough proposition because of the constant threat to your life. You'll keep plugging away trying to get that bit further and it's very rewarding to achieve success.

Second Opinion

Grows on you, this one does. The puzzling isn't actually too... well, puzzling, but it takes a fair old amount of brain power just doing everything in the right order. The constant need for upward thrust makes control awkward, and avoiding the aliens takes more luck than judgement at first but work at the game will help in both these areas. A bit of a good one.

Green Screen View

This game really loses a lot, seeing all those bright, colourful graphics reduced to shades of green. Plays fine, though, and looks okay - so long as you don't know what you're missing.

Good News

P. Colourful screens and aliens.
P. Testing action for the joystick and the brain.
P. Nice features like the credit dispenser and magnetic lifts.
P. Good control over the droid. Easy to get into but tough to crack.

Bad News

N. Life loss from aliens is annoying.
N. One mistake can ruin a game.

Bob Wade