Sinclair User11th December 1990
Published in Sinclair User #109
How do you do justice to the biggest, most expensive, most explosive film ever? How do you squeeze Arnold Schwarzenegger into a Spectrum? How do you get an entire planet, a megacorporation, a band of mutants, lots of explosions and a Martian colony onto a cassette? I dunno.
Somehow, ace programmers James Higgins, Simon Butler and Warren Lancashire have done the business for Total Recall.
In the movie, futuristic construction worker Doug Quaid goes to a Total Recall shop to experience an electronically-induced fantasy of a Martian holiday. But the treatment revives his hidden memories of his life as a secret agent on Mars, and he travels there on a quest to recover his real identity. This involves an enormous amount of shooting, chasing, exploding, mutating and mutilating, and you'll be pleased to hear that all this action is preserved in the game.
The graphics look GREAT - better even than the preview graphics we saw a couple of months ago (they've been completely revised since then). The corridors of the Martian colony are full of walkways, platforms, huge rotating fans, pressure pads, crevasses, bubbling lava, flashing danger signs, objects to collect and hidden deathtraps.
He Quaid sprite is great - stocky, muscular and well animated. And the Corporation thugs who bar his way crumple satisfyingly when you thump them or shoot them. An even better effect is when you get killed, as your body decompresses and explodes messily into bits of gloppy splat... Yuck.
You start off in an Earth habitat armed with your fists and a gun; an indicator on the bottom of the screen shows you which is currently selected (you change by holding down the fire button and moving the joystick down). You have ten bullets to start with, but more can be found along the way.
You also hove to collect five objects including a briefcase, identity card and so on; these are shown in windows as you pick them up. There's also a score display and a timer.
Arrows point your way through the maze of walkways, indicating the direction in which elevator platforms will move. But it 's not this simple; energy barriers bar your way, and these have to be deactivated by kicking switches. The tricky bit is that having passed one barrier you sometimes have to go back to kick the switch again, to deactivate a later hazard; and if you're not careful you can trap yourself between an energy barrier and a wall, with a life-threatening shock being the only way to get out.
If you complete the first phase you catch an automated Johnnycab and race to the spaceport. The horizontally-scrolling vehicle racing routine is a bit of a filler; there's not much skill or excitement in dodging or blowing up the pursuing vehicles. Still, it's a bit of variety. The next section takes place in the Martian spaceport, then there's another road race to the rebel base, another platform level as you search for precious oxygen in the sleazy slum areas of the Domes, and eventually you get to confront the head of the rebels, defeat the evil Cohaagen and save Mars - cheers cheers!
I Make no mistake, Total Recall is as much a block-bustin' computer game as it was a movie. It will keep you snarling with excitement and growling with frustration as you battle it out with gun-goons, suss the deathtraps and race against time to get yer right brains back. As Arnie might say "Get it, or i'LL get YOU!"
Label: Ocean Memory: 48K/128K Price: £10.99 Code: James Higgins Sprites: Simon Butler Backgrounds: Warren Lancashire Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
It's as big as Mars, twice as nasty with tons of atmosphere - Total Recall is a triumph - superb gameplay, great graphics and super sound make for a classic game.