Ice Station Zero (GI Games) Review | Your Sinclair - Everygamegoing

Your Sinclair

Ice Station Zero
By 8th Day
Spectrum 48K

Published in Your Sinclair #78

Ice Station Zero

While casually flicking through an old YS (like you do) I came across a review of Ice Station Zero by 8th Day software. The rights to that, and all the other 8th day titles, have been acquired by GI Games which means that they are available once more. I'd only tried a couple of the titles myself when they first did the rounds, and it was Mike Gerrard's less than glowing review that made me give this particular title a miss.

Three years ago Mike said it looked 'dated'. It still does a bit, though if you're prepared to put in some hard mental work then you may be surprised to learn that beneath the modest exterior lies a neat little game.

The adventure gets underway with a nifty split screen graphic showing a tent surrounded by glacial peaks and ice floes. A harrying blizzard obscures much of your view, though you see that the way North leads to the edge of the camp and you can also go 'In' to a tent. Getting out of the blizzard is a good idea and once under canvas you'll discover a couple of handy items. When you feel ready, you can brave the outside world and venture forth into the whiteness of the arctic.

There are only a few locations to explore before things start getting difficult so just remember that, as far as I could see, STORE and CALL work as RAMSAVE and LOAD (you'll be using them a lot) and EXAMINE and SEARCH do two totally different things. Before long you'll come across a sledge complete with Huskies. Try out search and examine and you'll see what I mean. The use of those two commands are commonplace in most adventures, though in this game you do end up feeling that you have to methodically search and examine everything. A much better idea would have been to use search as a general command and reserve examine for examining items that the search command had uncovered.

Even from the early locations it seems that the author has been a bit stingy when it comes to the vocabulary. One example comes early on when you locate the dog team who are tied up and obviously need to be set loose, but try as I might I only found one command that would accomplish that task, and it took me over half an hour! Then there's the pesky wolves to be faced. They appear with tiresome frequency and, while they are easy to scare off they add absolutely nothing of worth to the proceedings and are just a pain in the bum!

As you continue to play you'll find that, problem-wise, the game itself is really rather good. Unfortunately, you can't get away from the fact that the lack of vocabulary and the way that certain things 'must' be tackled lets it down. A few sudden-ish deaths are also lurking in the background, which isn't something I find endearing.

The game is nice enough, there are a few graphics that appear quickly and are neatly executed and, unlike my predecessor way back in 1989, I didn't give up on the game. It's possibly a little bit dated nowadays, though if you're the kind of adventurer who can methodically work out how to accomplish tasks by systematically going though every verb/noun command combination you'll probably enjoy it. Then, when it's all over and you've finished the game, you'll look back on it and feel pleased as Punch for being such a clever clogs! Without having to search for the words to overcome most problems I think the game would be more suited to a beginner, though given all that I've said about the vocabulary it is, as it stands, a much more formidable challenge than it should have been.

Tim Kemp