Red L.E.D. is a game which at first sight is just another Marble Madness clone. You won't have that impression for long because shooting, board game strategy and many original features take you deep into the realms of addiction.
The game takes place on a grid of thirty-seven hexagons where a hand can be moved around to select which of the hexes you want to enter. Each hex represents a landscape for you to explore. The objective of the game is to form a link of the hexes across the game board. To activate a hex, you must collect all of the energy pods on the landscape, using one of three battle droids at your disposal.
Before you enter a landscape, you must select a battle droid to do the task of recovering all of the energy pods. There are three to choose from, each one having different capabilities. Once a droid and landscape have been chosen, the clock starts to tick away the hour in which you have to complete the game. The landscapes are made up of slopes, acid lakes, flat terrain and holes. They look good and you can scroll quite smoothly around them.
Falling through a hole loses you a valuable minute as the droid tries to re-orientate himself. The acid lakes drain your limited energy supply for as long as you are on the acid, unless you are using the turret shaped droid which can travel over the acid unharmed.
Enemy droids live on the landscapes and they try to stop you from taking the energy pods. Collision with any of them drains your energy supply and, if you run out of energy, that droid dies. The enemy droids can be shot with the laser that each of the droids carries. There are also droid generators which can be destroyed by shooting them. They're destroyed if you bump into them, but since this drains your energy supply substantially, it's not a good way to do it.
Other objects are also scattered on the landscape and can be collected. Smart bombs can be found and are activated the next time you press fire. They clear the screen of all enemy droids and droid generators. Droid freeze is a screw like device which causes all droids on the landscape to be incapacitated while they try and find the necessary frequency to jam the signal.
Ice switches freeze the surface of the acid lakes and allow all droids to cross the acid unharmed. The acid lakes will eventually melt again and you had better make sure that you are not on the surface when they thaw completely. Teleport pads allow you travel to the next teleport pad in the sequence. If there are teleport pads on a level then there will be at least two and usually there are three or more.
Time capsules come in two varieties: those that add to the time remaining and those that reduce it. The time gain capsules are extremely useful and give you a better chance of making a line across the board, but the time loss make it much more difficult. Fortunately the two can be distinguished.
Once all of the energy capsules are collected, the exit will be activated and you must make your way to it. If the exit is activated then you will exit the landscape and that hex will flicker on the hex grid. That is your first link on the board. If you abort a landscape or a droid is killed on one then you won't be able to enter that hex again and it will change colour to white. When a droid returns from a landscape, whether aborted or completed, the energy of the droid will be replenished.
A letter of the word "bonus" appears every 10,000 points and if all five are collected then a bonus level is accessed. Here the previous landscape is replayed with immunity to the terrain. Your droid will have his energy replenished and you will gain valuable time. Bonus droids are awarded for every 100,000 points that you score.
The scrolling of the playing area is smooth, but a little slow. Colour is used well and the three droids move around well. All of the hazards and objects are easily identifiable.
Red L.E.D. is, in some ways, similar to the game Blockbusters in that you must link both sides of the board with adjoining hexes. The difference is that Blockbusters was a mental game [?! - Ed] and Red L.E.D. combines it with the excitement and addiction of an arcade game. The combination works well and, with three droids to choose from, careful planning is needed. You need to make sure that you don't waste energy sending unsuitable droids for the landscape selected. Originality and stunning gameplay make this game worthy of the title Mastergame.
I'm still a big fan of the all-time classic Spindizzy, so I was looking forward to a game which looked to have similar graphics. It turns out to have little in common except the graphics, but it should be as successful a game.
The introduction of shooting and other features to this futuristic arena makes for a great game. It takes a while to appreciate properly, but it's well worth the effort.
No problems at all in monochrome.
P. Smooth scrolling landscapes.
P. Good use of colour.
N. Relatively poor effects.
Grab Factor 92%
P. Simple gameplay hides a great game.
N. Exploring the landscapes is difficult at first, but enjoyable.
Staying Power 93%
P. Forming a line across the board will take a long time.
P. Being able to choose your route adds strategy to the game.
P. Superb cross between Spindizzy and Blockbusters, with a shoot-'em-up element thrown in.