Mutants (Ocean) Review | Zzap - Everygamegoing

Zzap


Mutants
By Ocean
Commodore 64/128

 
Published in Zzap #23

Mutants | PS | GP | JR | Verdict

Mutants

An interstellar war has been raging for hundreds of years. Weaponry has constantly been evolving, and now Mutants, the ultimate biological weapon, are being used to destroy spacecraft, colonies and planets. Genetically engineered, these biological monsters are designed to attack and destroy anything that they encounter.

A group of pacifists discovered that the Survivor Zero Corporation is responsible for these biological weapons. It was decided that if this Company was destroyed, millions of lives would be saved. Therefore you, an ex-space pilot turned pacifist, have volunteered to carry out this task...

The Survivor Zero Corporation holds the Macro-Genetic monsters in fifteen electrical pens, hidden in the depths of space. Situated at the controls of a highly manoeuvrable fighter craft, the player enters each pen in an attempt to collect the self-destruct mechanism therein. Once acquired, it can be taken to the sixteenth pen - the control zone, and placed on an assembly unit (after a simple maze has been negotiated). When all fifteen mechanisms are assembled, the giant organisms and holding pens are destroyed - allowing the player to progress to the second level.

The mission commences with the screen showing a view of the fighter inside a teleport ring. Six icons are situated to the left of the screen, and allow the player to toggle between the music and sound effects, change the fighter's current armament, and launch attacks on the alien enemy. The fighter has three types of weapon: missiles, which can be shot one at a time to decimate large areas; barriers (limited in number, these are used to erect a shield against the mutants); and rapid firing photon torpedoes. It's up to the player to decide which weapon to use against the mutants.

Once the armament has been chosen, the attack can begin by selecting the launch icon. The screen displays a 4 x 4 grid, representing the sixteen pens of the mutant breeding colony. The top left square is the control zone - all the rest are mutant pens. A pen is selected and entered by using the cursor and pressing the fire button - the fighter then materialises on a safe square in the centre of the pen, and has to be guided to the self-destruct mechanism.

The pen is surrounded by an electric fence which destroys anything that crashes into it. Certain strains of mutant maraud around the pen, trying to attack the fighter and diminish its shields - shown as a bar to the right of screen. Some mutants are stronger than others, with the stronger mutants causing greater damage to the fighter's shields. Strength is represented on-screen as a bar - the bigger it is, the stronger and more virulent the mutant.

Having collected the self-destruct mechanism, the fighter has to be guided back to the central square. The final decision is whether to return to the control zone and dump off the already collected device, or to tackle another mutant pen.

PS

This is one of the weirdest shoot-'em-ups I've ever seen. I was surprised to see that it isn't from Minter, as it has a lot of gameplay similar to some of his games. Graphically, Mutants is the most exciting game that I've seen in ages - it's like playing Psychedelia with aliens and a plot.

The use of colour is astounding, and the explosions are amazing. The sound is perhaps a bit disappointing when compared to the rest of the game, but it is still very good. I'm hooked, and I shall be for a long while yet...

GP

Mutants is extremely pretty, with some very obvious Psychedelia influenced alien movement patterns. The sound is good too, with some decent music and spot FX. However, there's not really much to it - fifteen similar sub-levels where you have to figure out the best way of picking up a self-destruct mechanism, occassionally blasting mutants.

I found this rather addictive - for a few hours anyway. But I wasn't captivated for much longer, and subsequent plays failed to fire my enthusiasm.

Mutants isn't exceptional, but it is fairly original and playable, and offers sufficient entertainment for the price.

JR

This is fabulous! Obviously a lot of thought has gone into the design, because it plays so incredibly well. It's difficult enough to drive you mad with frustration when you slip up, but so incredibly addictive that you constantly return for another crack.

What's really amazing though, are the colourful and superbly drawn mutants themselves - they're beautifully designed, and ebb and flow as they chase the fighter around the screen.

The action gets really frantic with some of the more vicious mutants, and it takes a fair bit of playing before any sort of tactics are discovered. The sound is great too, with a choice between an extremely good backing track and some excellent spot effects.

An essential purchase - miss it and you're missing something special.

Verdict

Presentation 90%
Well designed, with an easy to use icon system and informative instructions.

Graphics 95%
Very unusual, colourful and highly effective.

Sound 86%
Two excellent tunes and brilliant sound effects.

Hookability 90%
May prove overwhelming, but the action is instantly enjoyable and addictive.

Lastability 86%
Very playable and compelling.

Value For Money 87%
Plenty of compulsive blasting for nine quid.

Overall 90%
A new and exciting concept which should interest shoot-'em-up fans.

Mutants | PS | GP | JR | Verdict