A giant space-being is currently in orbit around Earth. One man is sent to investigate, and is promptly swallowed alive by the hungry extraterrestrial. He's not so easily digested, though, and from its stomach he hatches a plan to save the Earth from being next on the menu.
Taking the role of digestee, the player runs through sixteen scrolling mazes of flesh which make up each of the beast's four internal organs. The objective is to negotiate each organ, working through the kidneys, lungs, heart and brain, destroying each in the process, and ultimately killing the monster. Getting through each organ's protective membrane requires a weapon, and the three component parts of this contraption are found scattered along the organ's maze of arteries.
Lymphocytes occupy the arteries and do their best to eradicate foreign bodies from the system: contact with these takes its toll on the player's energy bar, complete drain of which leaves him prone to instant digestion. Protection is provided in the shape of an enzyme blaster - ammunition for which is readily available from glands situated around each system.
Relics of previous person-swallowing situations provide aids to the player's quest: crystals give three minutes of rapid enzyme firing and helmets provide temporary protection against bullets, specific creatures and puffs of noxious gas. A mapping unit allow the player to call up a plan of the current artery quadrant, showing his position and that of all the collectable items.
Although sporting a smart line in colourful and effective pseudo 3D graphics, Gutz's attractions lie merely with the purely aesthetic: a more reptitive game you could not wish to meet.
Maze games have never really filled me with enthusiasm, and if you remove the very average blasting from this Special FX offering, that's all you're left with.
The availability of a map only serves to remove the dubious enjoyment of its negotiation. The bouncy soundtrack is dreadfully out of place, although the rest of the game is reasonably well presented and the action smooth and glitch-free.
Unfortunately, in the gameplay stakes, the link between Gutz and the contents of a digestive system is rather apt.
After Firefly, my expectations of the second Spectrum FX game were high. However, a couple of games later I was scratching my head in bewilderment wondering what went wrong.
First impressions lead you to believe that this is a sort of Alien Syndrome clone, but after running around the very repetitive mazes and shooting bland creatures for an hour or so, you start getting a distinct sinking feeling.
Four identical mazes are endured before a giant guardian is encountered - destroy that, and it's onto the next, very similar, maze. Apart from the occasional between-maze break, the game consists of merely blasting the persistent creatures and finding the exit.
The action isn't that difficult, and after a couple of sessions there's no incentive to play further, so the game becomes completely redundant.
It's difficult to come to a quick conclusion on a game like this, because it looks as though it could be good. Fortunately, I've managed it: after thinking, "Is it just me, or is this game universally tedious?", the rest of the team have confirmed my suspicions.
The graphics are very good all round and sound is used quite well, but the fundamental gameplay consists of simply running through a maze of arteries blasting never-ending hrodes of creepy-crawlies.
The availability of a map makes it more accessible than most games of this type, but even that and the different weapons can save Gutz from its monotonous action.
To make things worse, the game hardly changes between levels; concentrated playing simply gives rise to those 'seen-it-all-before' blues.
Useful options. Excellent title screen.
Inventive sprites with appropriately fleshy, but repetitive, organic backdrops.
Screeching in-game soundtrack ensure the player is diven to switch to the much better spot effects.
Interesting concept and graphics create the initial grab.
Monotonous gameplay inspires feelings of boredom.
Some good ideas and execution are let down by unvarying gameplay.