Computer Gamer


Publisher: Novagen Software Ltd
Machine: Amstrad CPC464

Published in Computer Gamer #27


At last this classic Atari game has made its weary way onto a Z80 machine - the shape humble Amstrad in this case.

Mercenary is one of the vector graphics games that came out in the wake of Elite a few years ago. It soon became a firm favourite on the Atari and made its way onto the Commodore machines.

The game is part zap-'em, part adventure. The story sets you up as a mercenary on the way back from a job. Unfortunately, your ship was damaged and you have to make a forced landing on the planet Targ, which is at war. The opposing sides are the Pylars who, for the record, are the goodies, and the Mechanoids, the baddies of course.

Mercenary: Escape From Targ

Once on the planet you have to wander around its surface and below it. Messages appear when you are in certain locations to help you on your quest. Your final objective is to purchase or steal a craft capable of an interstellar jump. To do this you must secure gainful employment with the Pylars in their war against the Mechanoids.

Stealing Mechanoid artifacts is also a good idea as is destroying Mechanoid strongholds - you win bounties for the latter. Extra equipment for your various crafts can be acquired as you go along, as can the various craft themselves.

The underground complexes are like mazes with equipment and information rooms scattered around. There is also an orbital complex for you to explore - but first you have to get there!

Mercenary: Escape From Targ

The planet is very large and will take a lot of exploration. However, Novagen supply a goodies package with maps, diagrams and posters, as well as a rather amateurish pseudo-sci-fi book on the game. The maps etc are a great help, but the book is just silly. These items do cost extra, but not too much and they are good value.

The Amstrad version is slightly different to the others as far as the maps are concerned but not hugely.

The game's graphics are really excellent. Vector graphics on the Amstrad are difficult at the best of times because of the sluggishness of the processor and the large amount of memory that has to be manipulated, but the converter - one Dr Aubrey-Jones - has done a marvellous job, and I hope we see more of his work in the future.

Full marks to Novagen for a difficult conversion of an excellent game. Well done. It also came out in time as well.

For the totally baffled player, Novagen also produce the Targ Survival Kit for £3.95.