Sinclair User

Planet 10
By Mastertronic
Spectrum 48K/128K

Published in Sinclair User #92

Planet 10

There are a few game ideas which are so ancient and venerable that you don't seriously expect anyone ever to use them again. I mean, come on, honestly, surely no-one in their right mind would ever do another PacMan variant? Tell me it's not true!

But, pigs fly, moons turn blue, Screaming Lord Sutch becomes Prime Minister and Hartlepool win the Cup; Planet 10 is indeed a PacMan clone, though it's jazzed-up with a sci-fi scenario about sinister alien planetoids, hyper-galactic warriors and radioactive energy spodules. The biggest shock, though, is that Planet 10 is rather good.

The big gimmick is that Planet 10 may be PacMan, but it's PacMan like you've never seen it before; the twelve battle-planetoid mazes, rather than being shown from a top-down view, appear in amazing 3-D perspective with a starry background. As you steer your PacPerson through the maze, you see the walls scrolling past, junctions appearing to your right and left, energy tablets appearing on the floor as blue blocks. Power Pills as huge white spheres, and ghosts. AIIIEEEEGH! Huge, slobbering, glaring-eyed blobs of multi-coloured protoplasm bearing down on you from the distance! Of course, it would be impossible to complete each maze unless you had a map to help you out, and there it is in the lower right hand corner. It shows your position in the maze and all the uneaten energy tablets, but not the positions of the ghosts. These appear on your short-range scanner, and to the left of that is a direction indicator which shows which way you're facing, and whether your progress is blocked (although this is pretty obvious if a thumping great wall is in your way).

Planet 10

Apart from the sinister theme tune, the best part of the game has to be the ghosts themselves. When you're on the run from them, their appearance is truly scarifying: but if you swallow a Power Pill and give chase, they turn into blubbering cowards, ripe for gobbling up. See those ghost eyes scampering for safety! Hah!

So against all my better judgement this one has to be rated a hit. It might be a recent retread of the oldest idea in the entire universe, but it's been done with style and wit, and should give you a few hours of enjoyable gameplay.

So there you have it. Cheap, cheerful and well reworked

Overall Summary

It can't be true. But it is! A good PacMan variant in 1989.

Chris Jenkins

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