Max Headroom (Quicksilva/Argus Press) Review | Sinclair User - Everygamegoing

Sinclair User

Max Headroom
By Quicksilva
Spectrum 48K

Published in Sinclair User #50

Max Headroom

To: Sinclair User
ID: 919995924
Subject: Max Headroom

I have received the Maxhunter cassette from Quicksilva. I am instructed to recover the Max personality module from the Network offices. It contains his missing brain circuits and, until it is safely back with Max, the robotic video star will be unable to stutter through his show.

The building has 211 floors which makes it a daunting task to search. However, instructions provided with the cassette indicate that only the top 11 floors are of any significance. All floors are currently under the control of Tim Bryce, head of research, via the Network computer. Security systems abound, and it is necessary to break the codes before access to the appropriate floors can be achieved.

The first problem is the lift. I shall attempt to decipher the instructions for operating this and report back when I achieve progress.

By the way, what is my expense account clearance for this operation?

From: Review agent 'Lunchbreaks' Bourne

To: Sinclair User
ID: 919995924
Subject: Room graphics

Each floor has an identical layout of rooms, but different furniture is put into each for the sake of visual variety. In fact, you can do nothing with the furniture anyway, it is only there for show.

The floor is spread over about six screens with a Nightshade-style perspective - the walls are lines on the floor. I control a green stick-like figure which runs about. Since level 76 is beyond my control, I cannot enter the rooms at all.

Meanwhile, I am pursued by two robot guards who shoot at me. Their bullets seem to do little damage, which is recorded as a percentage at the bottom of the screen. At present I am on 98 percent and feeling confident. This is not a true reflection of my own emotions, but let it pass.

I make it to the other side of the room. There are six icons beside the main area of the screen and I am currently using the move icon. I switch to the lift icon and call it. After a few seconds the lift arrives and I play the little lift game again. Success! The lift moves up to floor 200 and dumps me onto the first of the main levels.

How am I supposed to obtain counter-signed receipts for expenses when I'm being pursued by robots? Be reasonable, Scolding.

From Review agent 'Lunchbreaks' Bourne

To: Sinclair User
ID: 919995924
Subject: Lift operation

Floors are accessed from the lift. However, only floors 200 to 211 can be controlled by the player, and even then the correct codes must be entered. The display conforms to standard LCD calculator digits. Floor 200 is accessed by the letter E and the appropriate segments of the display must be lit to form that letter.

Using the joystick to move a pointer along a row of circuit lines, I am able to activate the various segments. However, each segment remains lit for only a limited period, and I must continually recharge each one. It's no good just lighting up the whole E once - the letter must be lit when the time limit on this operation runs out.

The first attempt fails and the lift, out of control, deposits me on floor 76. This is of no use to anyone.

There are two lift shafts in the building, and to re-enter the lift I must use the other shaft each time. That means crossing the room which is guarded by unfriendly security robots. I shall report on the room graphics as soon as you answer my queries on expenses.

From: Review agent 'Lunchbreaks' Bourne

To: Sinclair User
Subject: Code search

Once in room 200 I have to gain control of the floor. One of the icons allows me to play the code game. First I set an icon at the bottom to the required floor number, in this case 200. I then select the code game icon. A sequence of flashing lights is displayed against a picture of a chip. I must enter these lights in reverse order to gain access to all the rooms on that floor.

The lights are swift but, fortified by my success with the lift, I have no trouble entering the sequence.

More robots seek to destroy me, and when they get close they do a lot of damage. The robots cannot follow me into rooms, however, so I take refuge in one and hit the rest icon. That allows me to regain energy at the expense of time - the whole mission must be completed within six hours.

As each room is entered, it is searched for elements of the special code to the president's office. As these are found they are recorded on the display - there are four such codes hidden over floors 200 to 209. Since they have different positions in each game search is a repetitive and time-consuming job.

I find no codes on floor 200 and proceed to the lift. The codes for the other floors are provided in the instructions - they consist of the final digits of the number, 1 being the code for floor 201, and so on. The presidential office, however, cannot be entered unless the complete series of codes has been entered, and the laboratory, where the Max module is kept, can be entered only with information gained from the president's office.

Since you are being so stubborn about expenses, I am terminating the mission at this point and will report back with my impressions in person.

From: Review agent 'Lunchbreaks' Bourne

To: The Publishers
ID: 666
Subject: The Lunchbreaks Report

Agent Lunchbreaks was debriefed under sodium pentothal according to EMAP Review Policy, clause 4c. He praised the general presentation of the Max Headroom game and believes the concepts to be original and interesting. He was particularly impressed by the lift game, which is both difficult and unusual.

The graphical representation of rooms is good, but becomes tedious after the complex instructions for entering them are understood. The fact that 199 floors out of 211 are completely useless to the game is a substantial criticism.

We understand that if the game is finally completed, a special message from Max with speech and animation can be loaded from side two of the cassette. That is a bonus but the amount of repetitive work to be done before completing the game is boring.

Lunchbreaks is sure the game will appeal to many fans of Max, but points out that it could have been much more challenging by more intricate use of the code systems. As it is, all the difficult bits occur at the beginning when the player tries to understand the control systems. Once they are mastered the rest of the play holds little variety.

Luunchbreaks appears to have made a good recovery from his experiences in the Network offices. However, his extravagant attitude to company funds leads me to recommend that we terminate this agent's contract at the first available opportunity.

From: Case officer Scolding

Chris Bourne

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