Personal Computer News

The Black Planet

Author: Mike Gerrard
Publisher: Phipps Associates
Machine: Spectrum 48K

Published in Personal Computer News #040

Pieces For Peace

"Two for the price of one" always was good sales spiel, but with The Black Planet, Phipps might be excused for yelling "Roll up, roll up, seven for the price of one!" as that is the number of separate games incorporated into this space quest.


As the 21st Century draws to a close, and Planet Earth's empire stretches throughout the Galaxy, you must assume the role of the good guys yet again in order to conquer the pirates who are threatening the Galaxy's peace and harmony. To destroy the pirates you must collect the seven pieces of the key which will then enable you to obliterate the sunless Black Planet where they hide out.

In Play

In practice, so long as you have the instructions handy, the game becomes reasonably straightforward to play, yet very hard to master. The main screen is the nose of your rocket ship travelling through space, with read-outs for shield strength, helm co-ordinates, target co-ordinates, and distance to target. The K key sets your target co-ordinates, such as 30,30 for the planet Bellatrix, and the cursor keys align your helm co-ordinates with this. Then, with careful use of hyperjumping or gunfire to destroy the pursuing pirates, you should reach your destination and the first game challenge.

The Black Planet

You can visit the planets in any order, provided you succeed eventually at all seven.

One game could be described as Frogger on a crossword puzzle, where you have to move down the screen and back up again using just the black squares, which are moving quickly and haphazardly. Another is a diamond-shaped draughts board across which you plot your course a square at a time, alternating moves with a mobile fire that is protecting the piece of key that you're after. Other involve you in shoot-outs, minefields, monsters and jumping off cliffs into tiny boats. To add to your problems there will be a decreasing fuel supply and diminishing shield strength, to be replenished by a tricky docking at the Starbase from time to time.


Anyone who succeeds at destroying the Black Planet will discover a secret codeword, and revealing this to Phipps will earn you a free badge. Despite limitations on graphics and sound, The Black Planet is both different and difficult.

Mike Gerrard

Other Spectrum 48K Game Reviews By Mike Gerrard

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  • Quest Adventure Front Cover
    Quest Adventure
  • Dracula Front Cover
  • Earthshock Front Cover
  • Lancelot Front Cover
  • Hunchback: The Adventure Front Cover
    Hunchback: The Adventure
  • Zzoom Front Cover
  • The Gordello Incident Front Cover
    The Gordello Incident
  • The Pawn Front Cover
    The Pawn