Marble Madness, but a bit more pinbally... that sounds like a good idea for a game. Mix in a bit of platforms and ladders here and there, by using over four interconnecting levels, linked by holes and air-lifts. (Getting better all the time.) Add some progressive elements, like being able to change size and mass to through difficult sections. PERFECT!!!
It's not. It's far from it, (say this very quietly) it doesn't quite live up to the hype/ All the elements are there, but, here comes that magi word - playability - the game just doesn't hang together and what you are left with is a rather boring isometric maze game. It's not even particularly well executed.
In short, you are Private (please insert name of your choice, like parts or bits) and you have to locate and rescue Colonel in Chief Matt Ridley, who quite cleverly, decided to take a crack at the awesome Death Run, and is now imprisoned within its walls. You have to climb aboard your battle sphere and head into the Death Run. Land of unplayability and jerky scrolling.
The Death Run is a little 3D maze set over four planes. At the start of the game you can display maps of all four mazes in the 'deploy your ammunition dumps'. You have four dumps - supplies of ammo to help you survive in the game - so obviously the most sensible thing to do is place one on each level.
In the game itself, the maze is displayed as a scrolling isometric map, with lots of walls and special tiles and things, and in the middle of it all is you, the battlesphere. The walls are there to stop you moving in a certain direction, and the special tiles are there to do special things. A plus sign on a tile increases your battlesphere's size, and a tile with four arrows pointing inward reverses the effect. A question mark randomly changes mass and size every time you cross it.
Mass and size play important parts in getting through some key trouble spots in the maze. The denser you are (and no missus, I don't mean stupid) the more powerful you become. Unfortunately, when you are lumping around something of that mass, it gets a bit uncontrollable. Well, even more uncontrollable than it already is. Size can also be important. The smaller you are, the more likely you are to be splatted should you rush into a nasty, but being small also means that you can get through some narrow gaps a lot easier.
Graphics are OK to a point, but the scrolling is dire. It just shouldn't be allowed. Now come on, this is 1989! I can take a bit of jerkyness at slow speeds - it's always a problem. But this game stays jerky, no matter how fast you go.
It plays like, well, something that doesn't play very well. The rebounding effect off walls and things is a little erratic and normally sends you flying at high speed regardless of your original speed. At high speed, the game collapses almost completely. It seems the only way you're going to keep control is by moving very, very slowly. Now I'm no hopeless cripple at computer games, but even I couldn't keep control of this baby. Scratch another few points.
ISS could have been very good, but as it ended up, it isn't. What a huge disappointment from the people that brought you R-Type and Afterburner.
Label: Activision Author: In-house Price: £8.95 Memory: 48K/128K Joystick: various Reviewer: Tony Dillon
Unplayable, badly scrolled, poorly executed heap constructed about a nice game idea.