Caves Of Doom (Mastertronic) Review | Amstrad Action - Everygamegoing

Amstrad Action

Caves Of Doom
By Mastertronic
Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Action #5

Caves Of Doom

Mastertronic keep up their amazing performance on the Amstrad with yet another budget release that is worth every penny of £1.99. It's another arcade adventure with new tactics and features including a screen design function allowing you to change the whole nature of the game.

The game is set on the planet Doom (rings a bell, but no doors) where you have to find five keys hidden somewhere in the thirty locations. You control a character with a jet-pack who can walk or fly through the screens packed with danger.

Most locations have a number of coloured walls which initially cannot be passed through. When you've got the right colour key, the walls no longer stop passage and new areas of the game are opened up. In this manner collecting one key will enable you to go and find another. It will also open up sections where jet pack fuel is contained. This is the stuff that keeps you up in the air and in the initial set up there's a plenty of it about. There are different coloured keys and doors but one of the keys (the yellow one) is in three pieces and has to be pieced together. There is even a teleport function in one area.

The hazards come in three different forms: homing, pattern following and static The homing ones are the nastiest since they are fast moving men who scuttle towards you like something out of a zombie movie and can move through any obstacle at all. To avoid them, you need quick reactions and the ability to fool the man into letting you sneak past. He looks extremely silly coming towards you but he's highly dangerous.

Other moving dangers are robots, guards and birds but these follow patterns so that they can usually be snuck past with some careful timing. Most of these are crudely animated again but quite nicely drawn. Non moving hazards have to be learnt by experience like spikes, bushes and pillars and can be difficult to avoid in tight corners. The problem arises when you need some close manoeuvering because it's difficult to position accurately with the jerky control. There are also points that shoot bullets and these act like Gatling guns, spinning round and blasting intermittently.

The thing that makes this more than just a simple exploration game is the screen design facility which enables you to change all of the static objects on any screen. You can put in or take out dangers, fuel supplies and all the other features excluding the moving objects. These don't appear on the editing screens, but when you return to the game proper they are back in evidence.

You are still tied to the defined character set but can completely redesign the game layout to make it easier or harder. Once the game has been altered it can be saved to tape and reloaded for later use. This still doesn't make the game brilliant but, for the price, it should give a fair amount of entertainment with an infinite variety of possible challenges.

Second Opinion

After recent Mastertronic marvels this game came as something of a disappointment. The standard arcade adventure fare left me far from satisfied, and the absence of shooting struck me as a real drawback. I'm not saying it's bad - far from it - and at £1.99 you shouldn't really grumble. But Mastertronic now have such high standards to maintain that anything less than excellence is enough to make you cry.

Good News

P. The initial 30 locations are tough.
P. Screen design allows lots of variety.
P. Nice variety of dangers and obstacles.
P. Colour-coded doorways make life complicated.

Bad News

N. Graphics and sound are mostly simple.
N. Not much mental stimulation involved - just exploring.

Bob Wade

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