After year upon year of wandering about in cold BBC TV studios, brandishing hacked up hair dryers against actors dressed up as megalomaniac mushrooms, Doctor Who is now a computer game from the Leeds software house Micropower.
As is usual, the good Doctor is pitted against that well known baddie-in-the-street, The Master. The trouble is that this chap has managed to get his hands on the plans for the Timelord's TIRU device, a handy little bit of techno marvel that is the temporal equivalent of a video editor. Slices of time can be chopped from the continuum and altered, allowing the future of the universe to be altered. Obviously if you are a megalomanic lunatic then the possibilities are endless, and one possibility The Master wants to realise is to make himself immortal, setting himself up as the Devil at the beginning of time. This would be worth avoiding since it's better to stick to the devil you know.
The master has holed himself up in the Mines of Terror - not a nice place, where Heatonite is mined. This mysterious compound is the secret raw ingredient needed to make a TIRU. The day needs saving and time itself needs someone who is used to saving days (and the universe): Doctor Who.
The whole game is a full graphic interpretation of an adventure, with a large number of psychologically contortionate problems to be solved. Unhappily, as emissary of the Timelords, the Doctor isn't allowed to possess any weapons when he beams down to the mining complex on Rijar, not even the awesome sonic screwdriver. This leaves him a little defenceless should he come into mortal combat with any of the controllers that patrol the mines in search of intruders. These devices are quite dumb, but if the Doctor ever comes close then they activate into raucous mash-up-the-civilian mode. The controllers' main disadvantage is that they can only travel along the metal walkways constructed for them.
The Doctor himself remains central within a scrolling window and can roam around in Son of Blagger style (up, down, left, right and jump), but can also collect and use various objects found around the huge map. Four objects can be held at any given time and these are shown at the top of the screen. Using the function keys, it's possible to manipulate the items.
Though there are no weapons supplied to you, a Splinx is. This weird creature looks exactly like a household moggy, but is in fact a highly sophisticated robot that's immune to detection from any of the aliens. Pressing S takes you to a programming screen that allows a set of instructions to be set up and executed by the splinx. These are fairly simple, but can enable the Doctor to get at items he normally wouldn't be able to reach.
To complete the game the plan has to be retrieved from the lab and then returned to the Time Lords, not all easy since the map is absolutely huge. A fair bit of help is given via the packaging, which includes a full-blown, though not very detailed, map of the mining complex.
Initially, Doctor Who And The Mines Of Terror looks pretty grotty with its rather unimpressive graphics and less than impressive sound. On playing, however, it soon becomes apparent that there is a lot of depth to the game. The playing area is very large indeed and it'll certainly take quite a while before the map is explored to its full extent. The big niggle is the horrible music which burbles away throughout the game, although it does get better when the Doctor enters another section of the map. This is one of the better arcade adventures available for the C64, and if it's a long-lasting game you're seeking, then have a look at this.
Although Doctor Who doesn't look and sound too impressive, it is one of the best arcade adventures to appear on the C64. It does take time to get into, but once you do, it proves enthralling and enjoyable to play. At first it looks like a scrolling platform game, which of course it is to a degree, but on playing you find that it's something more and the 'adventure' overtones give it that bit extra. Doctor Who does need to be played to be appreciated, since initial impressions are deceptive - some may even slag the game off because they haven't bothered to play it.
I really like Doctor Who quite a bit; despite its immediate awkwardness, it is very similar to Castle Quest on the BBC, one of my all time favourites, and it's nice to see something like that on the C64. The main appeal to the Mines Of Terror is the depth of the game, beating most text adventures even. The graphics are of an average sort, though quite effective, and scrolling is very nice indeed. The only real gripe I have is the ubiquitous tune that migrainly rattles away while you play. Still there's always the TV set volume control. There are several nice ideas incorporated, and one of them is the Splinx. Overall I really liked this game and I'd recommend any C64 owner to have a look at it.
Great giant size packaging with loads of interesting bumph, plus nice touches like Splinx programming.
Sprites are adequate, backgrounds equally so and could be better, but excellent scrolling.
Where's the famous tune? Not a drawback though, but the tunes supplied are.
Requires perseverance and you must read the instructions.
Difficult but not frustrating and varied enough to maintain interest.
Value For Money 81%
Pricey but worth it.
A very good C64 arcade adventure - timeless perhaps?