Hunter's Moon (Thalamus) Review | Commodore User - Everygamegoing

Commodore User

Hunter's Moon
By Thalamus
Commodore 64/128

Published in Commodore User #53

Hunter's Moon

With that Helsinki Hex Hero Stavros Fasoulas freezing his knackers off on the Russian border whilst doing National Service, it seems unlikely that he will be writing any more games for Newfield's software house, Thalamus. Not that they need to lose any sleep over his departure... Thalamus's latest production, written by Stavros' successor, Martin Walker, is easily as impressive as their three previous releases.

Taking control of the good ship Hunter, your objective is to conquer sixteen Star Systems so you can return home to the eponymous moon. Each system comprises four or more levels, inhabited by indestructible white cells which create crystal cities in their wake. The effect is similar to that in Jeff Minter's Psychedelia, only far superior.

A level is completed by collecting the requisite number of Starcells, varying from one to four. Alternatively, you can accumulate Loopspace co-ordinates by collecting the flashing Starcells (visible on the radar at the bottom of the screen) which appear when you enter a level. If the Starcell is picked up before a timer reaches zero, a Loopspace coordinate is given. Collecting four coordinates completes the system. This means that, once you become proficient at negotiating the levels, there's no need to complete all the levels in a system to progress. A considerable touch.

Pausing the game and moving the joystick calls up four options: Engines, Respray, Shields and Offduty. There are three engine types to choose from - effectively three different control modes. Retros allow you to stop the ship almost instantly, although it takes a while to get used to the way the Hunter turns before it moves. Cruise control makes the Hunter move inertially, which means it's a lot harder to stop immediately, while the Retros provide continuous thrust, so the ship never stops moving.

The respray option is for purely cosmetic purposes and is somewhat superfluous - unless you get a real kick out of changing the colour of your ship. The shields on the other hand are far more useful as they protect the Hunter from being damaged by any spores - deadly debris secreted by certain types of crystal. Finally, there's the Offduty mode - very much a Psychedelia-inspired affair which allows you to affect the movement patterns of eight Worker Cells and thus create pretty effects.

Having completed a system, you are given the chance to earn an extra life in a sub-game - by shooting all eight spore-chewing Worker Cells (complete with crystal trails) which move around the Hunter. An extra shield is awarded even if you don't survive the onslaught.

On later levels the Starcells are invisible and can only be seen on the radar. Other problems include Maze-like cities to negotiate, impenetrable crystal walls, and Worker cells which change direction without warning.

Hunter's Moon is a well presented and highly polished piece of software. There isn't exactly a great deal of variety in the graphics and gameplay but the movement of the Worker cells generates an impressive overall effect which complements the simplistic but mesmeric blasting action. Mr. Walker's spot effects are also first class - very clear, effective and atmospheric. Unlike the uninspiring music, which is something of a disappointment by comparison.

Incidentally, the disk version of Hunter's Moon also features five demos, including the cassette loading sequence and four pictures, one with music. They're all fairly mediocre, but who's complaining when they're free?

Gary Penn

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