Prepare yourself to boldly go where no computer game has gone before. Martech's Planets take you on a trip through our galaxy and actually down to the surface of these heavenly bodies.
Created with the assistance of Heather Cooper, president of the British Astronomical Association, the game takes you on a trip across the galaxy in search of some alien capsules which contain clues to help you save the Earth from destruction.
The scenario goes like this. Life on planet Earth is coming to an end. A series of monumental natural disasters has thrown the Earth's climate into a deadly spiral - a second Ice Age has already begun.
A metal capsule plummets through the atmosphere. It contains a map of the Solar System and shows the position of eight similar capsules, one for each of the Earth's planetary neighbours.
A radio signal is received from deep space. When decoded, it is found to be a computer program. The program is loaded into a suitable microcomputer. A strange game unfolds which appears to obey certain complex rules.
You are on a routine mission within the solar system. For the past month, the problems which beset Earth have intensified. As each day passes, the news which reaches you worsens. Is life on Earth coming to an end?
News of the signal from deep space and the mysterious capsule are communicated to you. The capsule has landed in a mountainous region of Switzerland.
This is where you come in. The first task in this game is to land on Earth, decode the capsule's security device and get back to orbit around your home planet. Only then can you continue with the rest of the game.
Planets is really four games in one. There's the landing and take-off sequence, the planetary search sequence, the separate "weird" or alien puzzle game, and the decoding the capsule game.
Once you've landed, you can send out your robot craft to retrieve the alien capsule.
Once back in orbit you call up the interplanetary chart and decide which planet you wish to visit first.
Notes of tape counter positions will be useful. There's no explanation of this on the instruction sheet, so beware.
At your chosen destination, it's back to the lunar lander routine - after you've taken a few potshots at oncoming asteroids.
The game is controlled by icons in an extremely effective fashion and features neat "windowing" techniques.
It's not instantly addictive and won't appeal to arcade addicts currently into Commando/Uridium - but Planets does present a true challenge and will reward anyone who takes the time to really play the game.