Oi remember a woile 'go, well, mus' be o'er twenny yeres now, me pal tol' me 'bout some mad feller called Professer Eyestrain or sommink. Any road, he claimed that some asteroid was gonner hit the Earth in twenny years time. Course, no one believed him. Oi only bring it up now, because some geezers have just come into the pub, talking about some asteroid going to pummel the planet. Bit of a coincidence, eh? I wonder what happened to the Prof, anyway... (excuse me Tony why have you started this review talking like John Riglar? ...Ed).
Anyway turns out the prof was right, and you got to play one of 5 chosen adventurers who have to find him pronto. At the start of the game you are presented with 5 character icons and must choose which one you wish to play. Each character is a well known national stereotype. For example, should you choose Herr Krusche, your little computerised figure will appear resplendent in full World War 1 German battle gear, complete with spiky helmet and big square chin. Other characters are done likewise, with the American dressed in wild west attire and the Chinese Wu Pong done up as a Japanese tourist, complete with camera. Ho Ho - on with the game.
Your mission, chummy, is divided into 3 stages. First you parachute into an uncharted area of desert, infested with buzzards and snakes. The buzzards don't pose too much of a problem as they merely fly around overhead a lot, and occasionally eat you when you mistime a jump. The snakes, however, cause a great deal of sleepless nights. There are 2 sorts of snakes in this part of the desert. The completely deadly ones that sit on the ground in full view and jump at you when you go past, crushing you to death, and there are the completely deadly ones that hide in rocks and bite when you go past. Pretty nasty, eh? Still you are not completely defenceless. Various useful items are scattered about the place, such as vacuum cleaners that make you fly and flutes that can charm snakes. Once collected, they appear on a 'grid' of available objects. Now, this is clever, simply cycle through the items on the menu and select the one you want, and, get this, for the first time in gaming history, the item you choose actually makes a difference to the character shape. For example, if you select the flute, and your on-screen counterpart bounces around with a flute in his gob.
I love the graphics of the game. The main character though small, is beautifully designed and superbly clear. The animation is the best cartoon quality I've seen. Watch when you try to get him to do something he doesn't want to do - he'll stop, look out at you and shake his head in the best Moonlighting tradition. The backdrops are amazing, with beautifully detailed deserts, caverns and heavenly clouds. Which brings me very nicely to the second stage of your mission.
After parachuting into the desert, you must find the Prof and convince him to save the earth (Surely he needs no encouragement?). Then you must find the pieces to make up the Positronic Asteroid Deflector (P.A.D. for short). And in the 3rd section of the mission you have to somehow make it work...
It's a big game, with over 140 screens, none of them 'fillers' and some of them utterly fiendish. A lot of logical thought is needed to get really deeply into the game as you fiddle what different items and try to figure out what their purpose is. All this and a high standard of playability make this one of the best buys of 88 so far.