Dark Side (Incentive) Review | Sinclair User - Everygamegoing

Sinclair User

Dark Side
By Incentive
Spectrum 48K

Published in Sinclair User #76

Dark Side

You like a big challenge. It isn't enough for you to climb one more ladder or zap one more alien. You need something big and chunky. You need Dark Side from Incentive. Driller, using the revolutionary Freescape 3-D graphics system, was generally regarded as technically fab, but short of variety in the gameplay. Dark Side, while using very much the same graphics, has much more pace, variety and action. The evil Ketars have constructed a giant projector weapon, Zephyr One, on the dark side of the moon Tricuspid (C'mon, that's a valve, isn't it? - GT). Aimed at the peaceful world of Evath, the weapon will wipe out all intelligent life (and people who watch Neighbours too) when it goes pop in a few minutes time.

Straws have been drawn, and you got the short one. You're dropped on Tricuspid, and your task is to destroy the Zephyr weapon. Because the moon is so big, you can't possibly get to it before it charges sufficiently to fire, so on the way you must knock out power collectors to delay the Big Bang.

The ECDs (Energy Collection Devices) contain floating crystals which convert solar energy. Knock 'em out to slow the rate of energy collection. The view from the helmet of your space suit shows the 3-D ECDs. teleport chambers, power points, Plexor guardian tanks, and, if you can reach it, Zephyr One. The major difference between Dark Side and Driller is that you now have the added thrill of a jetpack, with which you can whizz up into the air. Careful manoeuvring allows you to spot the Plexor tanks before they open fire on you. You can then press the space bar, so that instead of controlling your movement, you control the position of your gunsight on the screen Line up a Plexor's head, cut loose with the laser and watch as it collapses in a satisfying mound of rubble.

Dark Side

Using the diagram showing the structure of the moon's surface, you can make your way around destroying ECDs, hopping through teleporters and dodging Plexors. Don't run out of fuel while you're jetpacking, or its AAARGH SPLURG (as the message display puts it).

The most splendiferous thing is that you can go inside the many and various buildings, have a look around and pick up useful thingies like crystals which activate teleporters. Watch out though, some of the buildings are prison traps.

The screen is full of useful data readouts; score, number of ECDs active, your attitude (I mean which way you're pointing, not what you think about life), shield energy, fuel, angle, position, and direction towards Zephyr One. A small diagram of your little self shows whether your jet pack is active, your laser is firing and so on. The sound effects are OK, but there's no music at all. The backgrounds become more complex and fascinating as you progress through the areas, and although the Freescape effect isn't particularly fast or smooth, it's incredibly impressive considering it's on a Spectrum. Dark Side is a real goodie, and if Incentive's Freescape games continue to improve at this rate they'll soon come up with something absolutely awesome.

Overall Summary

Excellent large-scale 3-D arcade adventure - unmissable.

Chris Jenkins

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