Task III

Publisher: Databyte
Machine: Commodore 64

Published in Zzap #36

Task III | SJ | PG | GH | Verdict

Task III

The year is 6038, and the peoples of the Cybernetica galaxy are under threat from an alien emperor. Their only hope lies in the shape of Prince Troma, who ventures into the private star system of the emperor in an attempt to seek out and destroy the malicious overlord.

Troma's task is viewed over sixteen vertically scrolling stages, as the player guides his ship between the alien structures and blasts the hostiles which appear.

The player starts each game with a full complement of laser armament, and replenishes the arsenal by flying over weaponry support platforms. Each platform displays an icon relating to the item currently available, and repeatedly shooting the platform guardian which regularly appears causes the next weapon in the series of eight to become available. The equipment on offer includes extra speed, improved lasers, smart bombs and an emergency package, which contains a full set of weapons.

After a ship has been destroyed, the player's total kills are calculated and his score increases accordingly, with a bonus for weapons collected and seconds remaining on the level countdown timer.


As Databyte's first European venture (all their previous games have been US licences), the very smart Task III merely flatters to deceive: it's beautiful to look at, but plays like a brick.

The first hurdle to any prospective pilot is the awful control method: the acceleration is too drastic and the inertia too excessive for the amount of room available - especially on the second stage, which is just silly.

Precise manoeuvres are almost impossible because of the speed of the craft and the fact that it is constantly moving: sideways motion is always along a diagonal. The ridiculous accuracy and tenacity of the infernal kamikaze spaceships is also very frustrating, and the last straw for me was the annoying delay between goes while your current scoreline is calculated.

This takes up *at least* eleven seconds *every time you die*, and even longer at the end of the game, which is infuriating.

The quid is a rather high price to pay just to get frustrated.


What we have here is a competent shoot-'em-up. The sprites and backdrops are very pretty and well animated (particularly the alien bubbles).

The only fault I could find is the very high level of difficulty which is caused by the extra-rapid response of the space craft to joystick movement.

On more than one occasion, I was rocketed across the screen because I held the stick in position for a fraction of a second too long. Play then starts again from the beginning of the level, which is also irksome to say the least.

In spite of these minor irritations, I still found myself coming back for more until it became clear that the second level was nigh on impossible to beat. If you're the sort who finds Dropzone too easy, Task III should prove a worthwhile challenge.

Lesser mortals may be put off by the feelings of manic frustration it tends to arouse.


Vertically scrolling shoot-'em-ups are too common on the C64, so it requires something special for new additions to stand out. Fortunately, Task III is one of the better efforts, with highly polished presentation from the gorgeous title screen to the innovative high score table.

Graphically it's excellent: without exception the sprites are beautifully-drawn and animated, and all contain masses of detail. The backgrounds are slightly sparse, but the rich colour scheme contributes a very slick and glossy atmosphere on the whole package.

The sound also echoes this high standard: it's very sharp and compact, and the title music has its moments, too. However, the gameplay can become very frustrating, chiefly because of the excessively sensitive control method. Moving sideways is aggravated by the permanent scrolling, and things can get a little too tight when trying to shoot or avoid aliens *and* negotiate the obstacle course at the same time.

Still, there's more than enough in the action stakes to make this an appealing and playable game.


Presentation 71%
Player and joystick options and a moderately easy to use weapon-select. Annoyingly long restart sequence and a poorly contrived control method.

Graphics 90%
Superb backdrops and sprites, with beautiful use of colour throughout.

Sound 81%
Raucous blasting effects accompany strange but affable tunes.

Hookability 73%
The hectic blasting action is quite enthralling at first, but the overly difficult nature of the game soon becomes apparent.

Lastability 54%
Plenty of challenge, but the high frustration level is a very effective appeal-killer.

Overall 77%
Slick and very polished, but some might find the action excessively hard.

Task III | SJ | PG | GH | Verdict