Rescue On Fractalus (Activision) Review | Zzap - Everygamegoing

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Rescue On Fractalus
By Activision
Commodore 64/128

 
Published in Zzap #5

Rescue On Fractalus

Rescue On Fractalus has been out and about on the Atari for quite a while now and, under the alternative name of Behind Jaggi Lines, has become almost legendary and a game which a threatened Atari owner could always show a doubting Commodore owner and say "look at *this* then chum!"

Quite right he'd be too, but now Activision have secured the rights to the Commodore conversion... but does it stand up to the Atari version at all?

Rescue On Fractalus puts you in a seek and rescue situation. Starting from an orbiting mothership you blast down to the surface of Tepidi Vad Neroleil Rahcri, a barren planet in one of the darker sectors of the galaxy. You have to seek and rescue pilots who've crash-landed and been stranded on the surface, surrounded by the marauding J'Haggari Kachatki, an evil bunch of intelligent thingies who aren't too keen on the human race.

Luckily, your Valkyrie fighter is equipped with all the latest instruments to help you in your task. Anti-Matter Torpedoes (AMB's) can be fired from the front of the craft and, if they're on target, will destroy anything including heat-seeking missiles and gun emplacements. To protect you from enemy fire and crashing into the rocky surface is a Driac mirror shield, this is indicated by an energy bar, if it reaches zero then the next hit from a laser blast or bump into a rock will destroy the craft.

You also have the newest weapons warning system and radar scanner available and during the game these are vital to your survival.

When you fly down to the planet, the first thing that strikes you is what a totally miserable place it is. The atmosphere isn't so fresh either, in fact it's Cyanitric acid gas - not something to be sniffed at by any means. The surface is horribly mountainous with towering peaks and thin canyons which you have to negotiate to reach some of the pilots.

On the surface are gun emplacements that fire laser beams and heat seeking missiles which drone around and home in on your craft. If a laser blast or missile hits you then you'll get a considerable amount of energy knocked off your supply. When you pick up a pilot on your scanner move towards it, although be careful of any jutting outcrops of rocks. When you get near enough to it the blip on the scanner will flash. Land and switch off the external shield - if you don't then the pilot won't emerge from his wrecked ship. Once the shields are off the pilot will run towards you in perfect 3D, walk round the back of the ship, climb up the stairs and bang on the airlock door.

If you open the door he'll climb in and the door will shut automatically. Be careful of not switching on your shields when the pilots are outside - this will kill them. Leaving a pilot outside is a good laugh, he/she gets really cheesed off and eventually practically smashes the airlock door in.

Once a pilot has been picked up you can then lift off and search for the next pilot. You have to collect a certain amount of pilots on each level, the higher the level the more pilots you have to collect. Once enough are collected, you can return to the mothership, although you can stay and pick up more pilots for a bigger bonus.

On really high levels you have to start rescuing pilots on the south side of the planet, the side always shrouded in darkness where there isn't enough light to activate your visual display and where instrument flying is a necessity.

The Cockpit

There are quite a few controls on the panel under the cockpit window and all play a vital role in the game.

Altimeter

There are two bars on the altimeter itself, one blue and one red. The red one indicates the height of the actual landscape as you fly over the rocky peaks and the blue one indicates your height. If the blue bar disappears then it means you're scraping along the surface of the rock.

Enemy Indicator

This blue screen is situated in the centre of the control panel and has a cursor in the middle of it. It will pick up anything alien and indicate it on the screen as a blob. Move the craft until the cursor is over the blob and fire. If you have got it right then the enemy thing will be destroyed.

Enemy Lock-On

This series of dots at the bottom of the screen tell you if the enemy are tracking you. They do this by picking up stray radiation from your craft. If they lock-on successfully then all dots will be lit and they will fire at you accurately and your energy will diminish swiftly. To evade lock-on, fly erratically until the dots flash randomly.

Long Range Scanner

This is a radar and has to be used as you fly around. It will indicate the presence of any stranded pilots and show them up as a blip on the scanner. You can then direct the craft towards the pilot and move close enough to be able to land and pick him/her up.

Energy Bar

When you blast down to the planet's surface, you have a full quota of energy. If you hit the sides of a canyon, top of a mountain or get hit by an enemy laser or missile then you'll have energy knocked off your total. If this energy reaches zero then your craft will explode and the game will end.

JR

The Atari legend has at last been converted to the C64, and it's a perfect copy too. The sensation of flying through the canyons and over the mountain ranges is really exhilarating and although the colour is a rather drab brown the graphics work exceptionally well.

The game itself is quite easy on very low levels but soon becomes a real toughie, especially on levels higher than sixteen where night flying becomes a necessity. The sound during the game is nice and atmospheric with different warning sounds, laser blasts, drone of missiles and when you're picking up a pilot - nice touches like footsteps clanking up the stairs, thumping of fist on airlock and whoooosh as the airlock opens and closes. I thoroughly enjoy playing this, although I can see that some people might well find it boring t play. Try it before you buy it but I'd strongly recommend that you do try it.

GP

This is a real classic! Ever since I heard the rumours of a game called Behind Jaggi Lines on the Atari I've been dying to see it. At last I have and I wasn't disappointed. The game has really marvellous 3D graphics and you get a good, realistic feel as you zoom down a canyon. The effect of the pilot running towards the ship is excellent... although sometimes it's not a pilot... There's plenty of challenge and the multitude of levels should keep advanced players happy. Great stuff!!

PS

From the start Rescue On Fractalus impressed me as an authentic space craft simulator on exactly the same lines as the older Atari version. The graphics are quite impressive though slightly lacking in colour and variety, the landscape being continuous dull brown mountain ranges. The handling of your craft is quite tricky but a great deal of help is provided by the detailed instrument panel, additionally it also provides an accurate radar screen on which to trace the stranded pilots.

As you travel over the mountains or along the ravines, it is difficult to judge the distance of your craft from the sides of the valley and from the mountain peaks, your only indication of contact and damage caused being a small orange light on the right of the control panel. Bonuses are obtained by collecting extra pilots or by destroying heat-seeking missiles and the few flying saucers that appear which means the game requires a skillful touch. After my first game I found it enjoyable, exciting and addictive and have returned to it for many more games.

Verdict

Presentation 88%
Good options, controls and instructions.

Graphics 92%
Fast and furious with...

Sound 80%
...Cool tunes and FX.

Hookability 92%
Superb controls and flying effect make the action addictive.

Lastability 96%
Sixteen levels and plenty of blasting interest.

Value For Money 85%
Would be nice if it was a bit cheaper, but it's still worthy.

Overall 91%
Excellent shoot-'em-up that has been worth the wait.