Quite a lot of budget software has been released recently, some of which compares favourably with games costing up to three times as much.
Unfortunately, some only serves to give other budget software titles a bad name and, in my opinion, this game falls into this category.
It is of the platform and ladders genre, having twelve separate screens. A new one appears only when the previous one has been completed, though there is a practice mode which lets you access any screen.
Controls and movement are limited to left, right and jump. Progress is timed, but there is a pause facility enabling you to stop and plan your route. Unfortunately, I found that the movements of The Hacker were rather jerky and key response wasn't all I would wish.
The theme is that The Hacker has to pass through a terminal and modem into the telephone network. Then it's on into a central computer mainframe through a second modem. Any similarity to a real hacker breaking into a real mainframe exists only in the screen titles, with names like On The Data Buses which at least gave me a chuckle, and Terminally Yours, which just about reflected how I felt when playing the game.
The sprites are well drawn, being fairly good representations of rom chips, discs, cassettes and the like, but the remainder of the graphics are rather basic and the backgrounds plain.
Sound was virtually non-existent being limited to one monotonous tone as the character walks. There are different tones as he falls or dies on landing.
The screens are difficult to complete, but I wouldn't describe them as challenging as there doesn't seem to be any incentive to keep trying.
The Hacker originally appeared about three years ago when software was difficult to find and arcade addicts a bit less demanding. Software houses would do well to remember that standards have improved and games of this quality can be found as simple magazine listings. My overall verdict: Dull and uninspiring.