If you have ever messed around with a Zoid you will know that most of the fun takes place in your imagination.
You set your Zoid up and imagine it ripping into another Zoid - perhaps holding it aloft and making screeching noises as you do so. Vivid pictures are conjured up of the Zoids tearing at each other - like the fight scenes in those dinosaur films.
Twenty seven year olds like me used to do similar things with our Action Man dolls way back in Pre-Zoidic times.
I know, I know, you are too old for either Zoids or Action Man but all I am trying to say is that it needs to be a damn good game, or damn good anything for that matter, to compete with the images created by your imagination. Which is probably why films of the book usually disappoint.
But let me say right away that Martech have achieved that difficult task with flying colours in Zoids - the computer games.
The action takes place on the planet Zoidstar where, after the collapse of a mighty Zoid empire, the Zoids turn on each other as supplies of Zoidar fuel began to disappear.
Without repeating too much Zoid history there are basically two types: Red ones - led by Redhorn the Terrible - and the Blue Ones led by, you guessed it, your good self.
Once Redhorn has defeated all the blue Zoids and captured their cities he intends to re-conquer the galaxy. You are the Blue Zoids' last hope.
The screen presents you with a Zoid's eye view of the planet. A scrolling map shows you a tiny fraction of the planet at any one time as you slowly explore it, seeking out Red Zoids, their cities, power installations, and communications centres.
Before you can goad Redhorn into battle you must first rebuild the Mighty Zoidzilla - who you will then take into battle.
Eight pieces of this mighty Zoid are hidden in certain Zoidstar cities. Your information scanners tell you the likelihood of a piece of the Zoid being present in percentage terms.
Using the information scanners is an essential part of the game because if you wander around, attacking cities willy nilly then you will be set upon by hordes of Spinebacks and Trooper zoids.
Zoidstar is a pretty huge planet and you would be wise to make a map.
All of the cities are in contact with one another and they are monitoring your movements and passing this information around.
If you do decide to attack a city it is therefore wise to take out its communications tower first.
But this alone is no guarantee of keeping your conquest secret as Hellrunner's are dispatched as soon as a city is attacked, and there is also constant movement of Slither's around the planet. As well as transporting materials, Slithers carry information between cities.
The game boasts by far the best use of icons (picture symbols) and windows ever seen on a C64 game. An expensive piece of business software running on Amiga or a Macintosh is the nearest comparison for these graphics - only the business software would not be nearly as much fun.
It will take you quite a while to master all the icons and their uses. There is the jamming system, for example, that can be used to jam Redhorn's sonic or thermal missiles. To do this, you first of all have to position your on-screen pointer over the jamming icon, press Fire to make the jamming window unfold, and then match your waves to the missiles waves as closely as possible.
It is learning the sequence of selection that is the difficult bit. Well part of the difficult bit - because jamming, and the successful use of missiles is pretty tricky too.
But don't worry about these two devices for the time being - you only really need them for destroying cities and taking on really powerful Zoids.
Beginners can get a great deal of fun out of exploring the planet and attacking weaker Zoids with your Rail Gun. This is a good old shoot-'em-up screen where you wrestle to get a Zoid in your sights, score a good few direct hits, and watch it go up like a pile of fireworks.
The good thing about the icons is that they are not just useless frills but they serve a purpose - of getting you quickly into the required piece of animated action.
All the time you are playing the game, you are presented with messages. For example, as you approach a city, a window opens to inform you that "Six Spinebacks approaching to defend city". That is your signal to reach for your missiles.
There are several different types of Zoids - and you will need to learn their relative strengths as quickly as you can so that you can decide when to turn to run and when to fight.
Get the impression I like this game? You bet I do. It has everything - great action screens, strategy, music by Rob Hubbard (he of The Last V8, Commando, Monty On The Run and Master Of Magic) and graphics which... well, just look at the screenshots!