Masters Of The Universe: The Arcade Game

Publisher: U. S. Gold
Machine: Commodore 64

Published in Zzap #26

Masters Of The Universe

Having successfully transferred from a popular cartoon series to an even more popular range of toys, Masters Of The Universe and their stalwart leader He-Man, have now surfaced on the C64, courtesy of US Gold.

Formerly appearing as an adventure game (reviewed in Zzap! Issue 24), Masters Of The Universe now takes the form of a platform game cum arcade adventure, incorporating both scrolling and flip-screen graphics.

Filling the role of He-Man, you do battle against Skeletor, the evil Lord of Destruction (and would-be ruler of Eternia). Having discovered the 'Ilearth Stone', Skeletor has harnessed its magical power to banish the Sorceress and take over Castle Grayskull. He is now building up his army of Clone warriors in order to attack the Palace.

Masters Of The Universe: The Arcade Game

Orko, He-Man's magician friend, has become imprisoned by one of his own spells, and currently lies helpless, somewhere within the fortress.

He-Man must enter Castle Grayskull, free Orko and present him with the correct ingredients to enable the sorcerer to turn He-Man's Sword of Power into an 'Atom Smasher'. Only then can He-Man destroy the Ilearth Stone, and rid the land of Skeletor once and for all!

He-Man initially appears in Castle Grayskull. Running the gauntlet of Skeletor's Clones, he seeks out Orko who is hidden in one of the towers. Attacking Clones are despatched with a deft blow from He-Man's sword, but as he progresses further into Skeletor's domain, this task needs more than just a sharp edge. The sword of Power is strengthened by collecting magic icons which enable it to fire bolts of energy, killing the Clones from a distance.

Masters Of The Universe: The Arcade Game

He-Man follows a treacherous path through the castle, leaping from ledge to ledge and using platforms and spinning elevators to negotiate the rooms and passages.

The ingredients necessary for Orko's spell are gathered from around the castle and its grounds. The recipe is very specific, and if the wrong items are used the spell will not work.

The screen displays He-Man and his surroundings, with a status panel appearing beneath. Information regarding the strength of his sword and body shield is provided, along with a graphic representation of the items collected for Orko's spell.

Masters Of The Universe: The Arcade Game

If the power of He-Man's body shield is reduced to zero, any further contact with Skeletor's henchmen proves fatal - and He-Man only has four attempts to complete his task.


Graphically, Masters Of The Universe is a very pretty product. The backdrops are extremely smart, almost capturing some of the cartoon's atmosphere. It's only when you begin to play the game itself that initial hopes are brutally shattered.

He-Man lethargically lopes around, and even that's too rapid for the backdrops. Control of He-Man himself is awkward, and leaping onto platforms and elevators proves annoyingly difficult to accomplish. Consequently, a lot of time is taken in merely trying to move around, rather than actually achieving any objectives.

The more perseverant amongst you may find a decent challenge in this. I found it a chore.


It looks very pretty, but beneath the impressive exterior lies a sub-standard platform game.

Controlling He-Man isn't easy (being able to fall off a platform by moving out of the screen doesn't help!) and running around, jumping from platform to platform and fighting Skeletor's minions is slow, monotonous and frustrating.

This isn't exactly a complete waste of a licence, as I can see it appealing to fans of the toys. But as a game in its own right, forget it.


Holy trademarks! How the mighty have fallen! Once Master of the Universe, poor old He-Man is now reduced to playing a sprite in a sub-standard platform arcade adventure!

The joystick-response is sluggish, and the scrolling is even slower - the ambling steroid-man has to stop every few moves and wait for the scenery to catch up!

Jumping from platform to platform is frustratingly tricky, requiring virtual pixel-perfect precision to ensure a safe landing. I found myself becoming increasingly irritated with every play and was glad to switch off.

The most ridiculous thing of all is that fans of the TV series will probably rush out in their thousands and buy it without even looking at it...


Presentation 62%
Poor instructions and limited options.

Graphics 85%
Colourful backdrops and characters, but annoyingly slow all round.

Sound 63%
Stirring He-Man tune trundles along during play.

Hookability 37%
Slow gameplay and awkward control dampens the enthusiasm.

Lastability 42%
A lot of castle to explore, but at the speed He-Man moves it could take many tiresome weeks.

Value For Money 32%
A high price to pay for some attractive graphics.

Overall 44%
A weak concept dressed up with a powerful licence. It's cheaper and more rewarding to buy the toys and use your imagination, or to watch the TV series.