Metabolis is a maze game cum arcade adventure presented in the familiar flip screen Sabre Wulf style. The story is based around the exploits of a rather fierce, but very brave and cuddy little Canary. Naturally it's you who has control over his little adventures.
The story has it that the invading Kremins have transformed the human race into a variety of strange little creatures. You, being a part of the human race have also been turned into a little creature - the main character of this game, a Canary. You've still got the brain of a human though, and naturally you're a mite peeved at what has happened to you. After all, who wants to spend the rest of their lives doing nothing, flying around and eating worms and bird seed?
After thinking for a while, you decide to make it your duty to destroy the evil beings which have done this foul deed. This isn't an easy task as you can imagine, and there are quite a few little jobs you have to complete before you can really blow the Kremins to kingdom come.
First of all, you must recover a serum that will restore you to your natural self. Once this has been done you must then find the wizard who will cure your heart which was weakened by the transformation from human to Canary. It is then (and only then) that you can destroy the Kremins.
The way to destroy these despicable beings is by causing a massive nuclear explosion, and the only way to cause an explosion is by finding nuclear fuel pods. Once you've found them then you can take them to the reactor room where a reaction will take place, NB when you do just that, be prepared to get as far away from the reactor room as possible, lest you get caught up in the explosion.
The playing area consists of about 150 rooms which form a highly complex Sabre Wulf-style maze. Plenty of creatures inhabit this strange world, and as you fly around you encounter just about all of them. Most are harmless, but some, like the starfish, kill on contact. Occasionally you meet a Kremin, which is big trouble. These sap your energy so it's best to stay out of reach of them, otherwise you find your game ending pretty swiftly.
Littered around the maze are many traps which you have to keep a watch for. Many are fatal, although some of them, like the one ton weight which flattens you for a while making progress impossible for a minute or so, are harmless (ish).
Another big problem is your heart. You see, all this flying around becomes a strain on your poor old ticker and you die unless you can keep yourself topped up with the angina pills you can find scattered throughout the maze. If the strain gets too much and you can find no angina pills, then you can always sit down and rest, which slows your heart rate slightly.
As you progress through the game, life energy is constantly sapped by the evil invaders. This is shown on-screen as a picture of a little bird which gradually turns into a skeleton as you lose energy. To replenish it you must find food and eat it, otherwise it's a Matthew's cling film bag for you. If you think this is all a little too much then don't despair, it's not all bad news; you do have a weapon, a boomerang, if you can find it.
Metabolis is not one of the most impressive arcade adventures to be convened from the Spectrum. Graphically it is rather poor and the sound isn't much better. There are quite a few amusing touches, such as the bird getting squashed by the ten-ton weight. Despite such pleasantries, I found the game a mite tedious to play and a soon became boring. Unfortunate, as the Commodore's facilities could have been put to better use.
Despite the enthusiasm for this game shown by other members of staff, I was not that impressed with Metabolis. If you take away the scenario, graphics and cassette inlay waffle all that is left is a very basic adventure. There are a few streaks of originality running through the game - the heart monitor is a good idea, though I'm not so sure about the poems reeled off when you cop it! Graphically the game is poor, the main sprite which is supposed to be a mixture between man and bird looks just like an average budgie. The scenery is none too impressive either. Even though the scope of the game is quite large I found that interest soon flagged, and any sort of prolonged play just meant for a dull time.
This is a competent adventure which obviously owes its existence to Sabre Wulf. It is presented in the same way and plays very similarly to it, making it slightly boring since the Sabre Wulf theme is an old and oft used one. If you like these sort of aardvarks then this will appeal strongly, but it you like your action a little faster then it might be wise to steer clear.
Ah, I don't quite know how to put this, but there is in fact a small error in the review of Metabolis. Nothing particularly nasty, honest. It's just that Gremlin gave us a very early (completed) copy to review, and, er, we weren't told until too late that it was actually going to be released on the other side of another game, Bounder. So, do you think you could ignore the value for money and overall ratings, 'cos they're going to be updated next issue when we fully review Bounder. I shan't say any more about Gremlin Graphic's new game, other than it's dead good and has been the cause of many a late night for both Garys (or is that Garies? - sounds like a disease of the mouth).
Me too, Jaz.
Nice scrolling message but little else.
Small, badly animated characters and unimaginative backgrounds.
Odd little ditty on the title screen and appropriate spot FX.
Some initial exploration addiction.
Lots to keep you going should you persevere.
Value For Money 56%
Cheep (!) for a Commodore game.
An average arcade adventure that is just a bit too dull to play.