Mask (Gremlin) Review | Commodore User - Everygamegoing

Commodore User

By Gremlin
Commodore 64/128

Published in Commodore User #51


You've read the comic, seen the TV show, worn the pyjamas, slept in the sheets, jogged in the tracksuit, sat in the bean bag wearing the slippers; now you can play the computer game.

Believe it or not, if you're a big fan of the Mobile Armoured Strike Command, you can actually get hold of all that gear and more, everything from MASK toothpaste to MASK dog biscuits. Whether you're an avid MASK collector, or you just tune into the programme at weekends and read the comic, you'll find that Gremlin's game has more in common with MASK than most of the merchandise knocking around.

As well as the software there's a single page comic which explains the plot pretty well. Matt Trakker is on his way back to Boulder Hill when he is ambushed by Venom. Mayhem drops a bomb which opens up a time vortex and Floyd Malloy throws all the Mask agents into it. The two then hang around waiting for Trakker to show up in Thunderhawk. Molloy attempts to destroy Thunderhawk, but succeeds only in badly damaging it. This, more or less, is where the comic ends and the game begins.

In the role of Matt Trakker, you must travel through the vortex in Thunderhawk and rescue the stranded MASK Agents. There are four locations in time and space and with the exception of the first - Boulder Hill, where you pick up Bruce Sato - there are two agents to be rescued in each. The procedure for this is straightforward, but less than easy. First, you must locate the whereabouts of the agent and to do this you must first locate his personal scanner. Obtaining the scanner is not the end of your problems though.

Once picked up, the scanner must be activated, and to do that you will need all four pieces of the security key. Pieces of key can be found all over the place, but only four will assemble to form the letter which, when pressed, will unlock the scanner mechanism. Then eight arrows at the bottom of the screen point you in the right direction and you should have no trouble picking up the stranded agent. When you've found him a status sheet pops up in motion for a few seconds after you've let go of the joystick.

The landscape features provide all sorts of obstacles and dangers which vary, depending on the level. Boulder Hill has, well, boulders, a railway line, very unfriendly jeeps and tanks and Switchblade the super intelligent helicopter bomber. It's a desert landscape which makes the game at first sight look very very much in the Rambo/Who Dares Wins/Commando genre (which it isn't). Moving onto pre-historic times, you are confronted with palm trees, more boulders (which can be shoved out of the way), volcanoes, dinosaurs, snapping turtles and a pterodactyl in place of Switchblade. Level 3 - far future - features black holes UFOs and the like, and the last level, Venom base, has some real mean stuff like snakes, acid and giant spiders. On the last level you must not only collect the last two agents and their MASKs, but completely destroy the Venom base before returning to the vortex.

What with all this nastiness floating around you'd expect to be able to defend yourself and fight back, and Thunderhawk is well equipped with dual cannons to blast anything minor out of the way. Occasionally your path will be blocked by impassable rocky terrains, trees or whatever. This situation can easily be remedied by the use of the bombs which can be found lying in similar containers to MASKs, scanners, keys and so on. The bombs are on a short fuse and have the added advantage taking out any enemy tanks, dinosaurs or whatever happens to be passing. That includes you, so remember to stand well back after lighting the blue touchpaper.

If you do get badly damaged, whether it's your own fault or not, the damage meter at the bottom of the screen will show you the extent of the bad news. Providing you can find a repair kit lying around it shouldn't turn into a desperate problem. Like everything else though, it's a good idea to make a mental note of where these things are if you pass them by without needing them.

So often licensed games of this sort are just a name, a lot of cash up front to some merchandising outfit and a badly copied picture of the real thing on the cassette inlay. It's nice to see that Gremlin haven't let that attitude get in the way of their ability to consistently produce good games. So, even if you're not a slipper-slinging, watch-wearing MASK fan reserve a space in your stocking for it.

Ken McMahon

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