The Micro User1st November 1987
Published in The Micro User 5.09
Lenny Morgan is a spaceship pilot with a soft spot for aliens. His kind hearted disposition earned him a court martial and two years hard labour on a penal colony. Rock breaking 23rd century style involves sitting in the middle of an asteroid field with a mining laser and a lot ofconcentration. Megarok is a budget version ofthe early Acornsoft hit Meteors, the term budget applying to both cost and quality.
One of the most appealing features ofthe original game was the graceful and effortless way the asteroids and space craft floated around the screen. Megarok's characters move far too quickly and erratically. Spaceship rotation is an ideal example: The ship rotates jerkily through eight compass joints, unlike the smooth pixel by pixel arc described by the Meteorscraft.
The duration of the game is not governed by a set number of lives - you have one ship and a fixed amount of energy. Every collision with an asteroid drains your energy reserves, the amount lost being proportional to the size of the asteroid struck. You may lose up to 20 of your original 100 units in a single collision, so it is vital that you realise the importance of your shields. Use of the shields expends one energy unit and provides five seconds protection, a worthwhile trade at the start of any screen.
Firepower is supplied in the shape of twin laser cannons, but despite this seemingly awesome potential you will still have difficulty destroying the rocks. Many shots which appear to strike home have no effect, especially when firing across the path of an asteroid. This dodgy collision detection does work in your favour from time to time you, close your eyes and wait for the crash of an imminent collision, only to find that the rock passes straight through the ship!
The secret of success in the original game was to stay as still as possible and blast the boulders as they drifted towards you. Dabbing the thrust key resulted in gentle and controlled acceleration of the ship. Dab the thrust key in this game and the beast engages turbo boost, darting around the screen hitting all and sundry.
After a short while it begins to decelerate, but the damage has already been done. The retro key will stop the ship dead, but thechances of locating it while in a stateofblind panic are small.
Megarok's two player option is pretty original: Controlling one ship each you play simultaneously - shackled together. All controls work as before, but the direction in which you travel is a result of your individual directions and speeds. Should one ofyou bite the dust, there is a short pause before the game resumes for the surviving player.
From screen four onwards some of the rocks will fire crystals at you - catch the white ones and dodge the rest. Despite the £1.99 asking price I can't recommend Megarok: Put your money towards one of the Acornsoft/Superior compilation tapes and play the original Meteors.