Mindshadow/The Tracer Sanction (Activision) Review | Zzap - Everygamegoing


Mindshadow/The Tracer Sanction
By Activision
Commodore 64

Published in Zzap #1

Two new releases from Activision

Mindshadow/The Tracer Sanction

Far more enjoyable, but at £19.99 still on the expensive side, are two new releases from Activision, Mindshadow and The Tracer Sanction. Both games load up with a menu offering three choices - play the game, 'living tutorial', and 'sneak preview'.

The tutorial is a lengthy introduction to playing adventures complete with a sample puzzle, all of which could be of great use to novice adventurers. The games accept complex inputs, such as 'Give the money to the bartender', and have the useful facility of allowing you to issue multiple direction commands. Entering N.N.N.E., for example, would move you instantly North, North, North, and East to a new location, thereby saving you a lot of time if you know where you're going.

The 'sneak preview' is simply an advertisement for the other game in the series, designed to wet your appetite with juicy graphics and a description of the plot.

The game format is striking and colourful - a large illustration for each location and a small window for text underneath. You can get rid of the graphics instantly at any time simply by pressing the RETURN key twice. The pictures draw quickly and look very professional, though I felt somehow that they didn't have a lot of character. Others might disagree.

Mindshadow is a very logical game in which you start off on a desert island and must travel the world in search of your own identity, your mission, and in fact the very purpose of the game.

There are approximately 80 locations to be visited, and most of these present a puzzle of some kind or another. The game has obviously been well designed, and there are no stupid 'Suddenly a rock falls from nowhere and kills you. Play again?' routines. If you die in this game, you usually deserve to.

One interesting feature of Mindshadow is the ability to 'Think about ...', and sometimes you'll get an insight into a certain problem, though it doesn't often work. You can also ask for help, which is delivered (don't ask me why) by a large bird, and is usually of little use. You can think as often as you like, but the bird will only make three visits.

The Tracer Sanction is very similar is design to Mindshadow, though with a very different plot. As an interplanetary secret agent, you must roam the galaxy in your extremely fuel-conscious space ship (only 500 gallons to the nearest planet). Heaven knows what sort of engine your ship possesses, but as stars scroll past your cockpit you can hear what sounds like a very unhealthy motor-scooter in the background.

There are some touches of dry humour, including an interminable queue of people that you can stand in for ever, never quite reaching the end. You'll also have some trouble with a certain crazed dwarf and some unstable stalactites - at least if you go the way I did. I found this game rather easier than Mindshadow, though, and the atmosphere is rather less enthralling in outer space than it was on board ship. Both games however, are extremely attractive to look at and might be particularly suitable for first time adventurers who will no doubt appreciate the 'living tutorial'. What's encouraging about these games (and the disk Hobbit, of course) is that here we have adventures with really excellent graphics that make good use of text and can handle some quite complex inputs. Again, however, you pay a price for all this.


Atmosphere 70%
Interaction 70%
Lasting Interest 68%
Value For Money 60%
Overall 67%

The Tracer Sanction

Atmosphere 55%
Interaction 70%
Lasting Interest 65%
Value For Money 60%
Overall 63%

The White Wizard

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