By Virgin Games
Commodore 64

Published in Zzap #3

Massive 250 screen robot factory to explore


The first space-age aardvark hits the 64 with this 250 (25x10) screen epic. A long forgotten robot-controlled factory situated on the edge of a solar system sets the scene.

The factory has worked away automatically for a hundred years, the robots harmlessly carrying out their menial tasks, until now. A powerful alien force, possibly jealous of Earth's riches, has invaded the factory and reprogrammed the robots so that they can destroy our planet.

Your job is to enter this hostile environment and discover the Control Centre where you can disable all the automatons. In a climate suited to robots, you have to fight your way through zero gravity, diverse temperatures, floating swarf, and through many weird and wonderful screens to achieve this.


Armed with only a space suit and a laser, you have a formidable task ahead of you. There is a jet cycle for you to use once you have found and collected it. Collect it, did I say? Well, the robot guarding it isn't going to give it up easily, not without a few bullets being bounced about, anyway.

Once you have got the jet your mission can really begin. Don't spend too much time admiring the view, get to a pipe and move up or down it (if it isn't blocked off).

At the bottom right of the screen there is a scanner/map. This shows the adjacent two rooms in each direction, a total of 25. It doesn't reveal what is in the rooms, but you can clearly see the entrances and exits to them, so you are able to plan your moves ahead. The map will flash a room red if a dangerous 'megaswarf' is residing within, and yellow for the control room. There are other colours too, but you have to work these out for yourself.


The pipes which link the various rooms are zero gravity lifts forming a large and complex system and allowing extensive exploration and access to most rooms. If there are no pipes then there are usually doors either in the left or right hand walls, which allow you to enter the adjacent rooms.

On your travels through the factory you will see much old and abandoned machinery, some of which may still be working. There are CRUSHERS, which clang up and down and will flatten you if you're careless enough to stray under their mashers. Odd revolving SCOOPS grind away into the night and CONVEYOR BELTS, harmless but progress-slowing, trundle along their infinite paths. COMPUTERS too tick away the long hours to themselves, but most are purely a decorative part of the landscape . . . .

There are also rooms containing large machines which, although standing static, may have mysterious purposes later on in the game. Large ELECTRICITY GENERATORS, a NUCLEAR REACTOR and its ENTRANCE ROOM are just a few of the highly deadly locations.


Some rooms contain odd robots which have escaped the ravishings of the aliens and are still friendly, and these will help you solve the game.

As you wander around the factory you might see an object lying around. Move over it and you'll automatically pick it up and it will fall into you pocket. This pocket is represented by a box on the screen. It shows what you have picked up. If you'd like to examine the object more closely, press space-bar and a cursor will appear in the box. Move the cursor over the object and press fire. You will get a read-out telling you what the object actually is.

These objects have to be used to solve puzzles throughout the game, and the only way to complete this game is to use all the objects. At first you will only find a few objects. But give one of these to the correct friendly robot and he will give you another object. Use this to solve another puzzle and you will gain yet another piece! Eventually after solving many puzzles you will, hopefully, be able to gain access to the Control Centre and then disable the robots.

When you start the game you are given eight lives. You can't earn extra lives, but there are supplies littered around the factory which you can pick up to prolong your current life.

The main cause of death for your man is suffocation. Throughout the factory there are thousands of pieces of razor sharp SWARF, floating around randomly. You have to shoot this flying debris: if you touch it, it will make a leak in your space suit. This will be indicated on screen. If you are carrying some patches, the puncture will be automatically fixed. When you run out of patches, though, you will start to lose oxygen.

The more puncture you have (up to a lethal maximum of 99) the faster you will lose oxygen. The faster you lose oxygen the less time your man will live, so blast that swarf! Occasionally you will come across a MEGASWARF. This giant swarf will chase you at high speeds and give your spacesuit more holes than a sieve.

If you want to map the game, the space bar will pause the action and tell you the location you're in. It does this by referring to the factory layout which is a 10x25 screen complex. The programmers have marked the top 0 to 9, and down the side A to Y. You can then work out your position in the factory: eg M2 (where you start) is in the bottom left hand region of the factory.

Spacesuit Status Box

Underneath the main screen there is a box containing your status report. This is what it shows.

  1. SUIT STATUS: This shows you how many leaks you have in your suit. The more leaks you have, the faster you will lose oxygen. Your oxygen is represented by a bar above the status box. Let it diminish to zero and you're dead meat. There are canisters of oxygen which you can pick up when your air is low.
  2. PATCH STATUS: Shows how many you're carrying. Patches are vital to stop you losing oxygen. If you have no patches you will lose oxygen. You can pick up patch packages which contain 40 patches. This will prolong your life. One word of warning - if you are already carrying between 80 and 90 patches, don't pick up any more. You can only carry 99 patches, so if you picked up an extra package most would be wasted.
  3. CHARGE STATUS: This determines you laser power. Let it get to zero and you won't be able to fire. You can pick up extra charges, but again no more than 99.
  4. POCKET STATUS: This tells you what is in your pocket. See main review for more details.

Object Objective

When you first start a game you'll wander around for a while and then start thinking: what the heck an I supposed to do? A few clues...

Once you have got your jet cycle, U6 will give you some pleasure. An unhappy robot would like some too.

A vendromat machine at the bottom of the factory needs some cash and tuppence backwards will give you five credits.

A cassette of Sorcery is for... you'll have to decide.

Woah, those pickpockets will swipe your stuff so don't go near them.

Eye shields and welding gear reside in the same floor. Find one and zoom along the row to find another.

Listen into C7... there's clues abounding in there, but nearby is Dr Psycho. Only go there when you want to hand in your cards.

One word of warning. Don't venture into the room that sounds like a dog, otherwise you'll take a trip to the stars.


An instant classic. Brilliant atmospheric backdrops, plenty of action and lots to get your grey matter clanking back into action. The sound was slightly disappointing, but the music on the title screen complements the game perfectly. A huge playing area will keep the cartographers happy for a long time, and mapping is pretty much an essential part of playing the game. I loved this game and, although rather obscure at times, should gather a cult following.


Despite its slightly dated feel, I still enjoyed the exploring and blasting of this aardvark. It certainly matches the complexity and size of other recent games and provides plenty of challenge. I also enjoyed some of the funny and weird touches, except for Marvin who depressed me no-end.


Big and boring, I first thought. How wrong I was - perseverance proved rewarding as I found Strangeloop was big, but certainly not so dull. Despite weak sound and little help on the instruction side (which didn't make it easy to get into the game), I found the excellent graphics and puzzles made it an enjoyable and atmospheric aardvark to play.


Presentation 69%
Unhelpful instructions but a nice demo.

Originality 78%
Lots of great ideas and highly original puzzles.

Graphics 88%
Wonderfully detailed screens with some great characters.

Hookability 74%
Once you start cracking problems you can't stop playing.

Sound 44%
Same weak beeping as on the Speccy and a very quiet title tune.

Lastability 91%
This is a real toughie. 250 screens, wicked puzzles.

Value For Money 86%
One of the best aardvarks around, providing lots of complexity.