They said it couldn't be done! Terropods, Psygnosis' impressive 16-bit arcade-simulator, converted from the Amiga and Atari ST to the Spectrum. It looks good. It sounds good. Infact, the only problem with Spectrum Terropods are shared with the original versions, it's just too damn hard.
This fast-moving romp takes place on Cohan, an inhospitable asteroid rich in mineral deposits: Detonite, a powerful explosive, Quaza, and energy giving crystal, Zenite, a ore with magnetic properties, and Aluma, an ultra-strong metal. Ten mining colonies are linked together by a complex network of shuttles, protected by surveillance and defence vehicles. Predictably, the monkey in the tinderbox is the evil Empire, whose sinister Mothership now hangs in the sky over Colian, knocking out defence installations and dropping the fiercesome Terropods to invade the asteroid.
You view the surface from the cockpit of your Defence Strategy Vehicle (DSV). Your aim is to use your remote-controlled Drover vehicle to trade with the terrified colonists, building up mineral stores to power your shields, weapons, and construction units. If you can collect Terrorpod components from the Empire construction plants, you can escape from the planetoid with the bits and defeat the nasties.
You start off with a very incomplete map of the surface, and you should fill in the blanks as you go. Around your out-of-cockpit view appear readings of your energy level, shield status, X/Y co-ordinates, a local area scanner, identifications of the installations you are approaching and so on. The landscape scrolls in four directions, using a multi-plane which give a real effect of depth. In the sky hangs the alien mothership, which is pretty odd really since you keep moving about and it's supposed to be still. Now and then it launches a homing missile at you in a petulant fit.
The installations gribbit away enthusiastically as you approach them, either to trade or to blow them to bits with your laser. The Terrorpods themselves are nicely designed and animated, looking like some bybrid between HG Wells' Martian tripods and small pieces of kitchen applicances.
The annoying bit of the game is that it's so complicated that you spend half your time looking up control keys. There's so much to remember that it detracts from the enjoyment of the game.
The strategic element consists of moving around the map as quickly as possible, finding the correct installations to supply your needs, rebuilding ones which have been destroyed by the mothership, and accumulating the correct minerals to be able to trade for the Terrorpod parts; all this while fighting off the hoards of nasties. Psygnosis' strong point has always been impressive graphic design, and obviously some of this has been lost in the conversion of the Spectrum. A lot of the trading element seems to have been cut out as well (remember that the original has 512K to play with), so what's left doesn't quite hang together. Still, if you like a real challenge which will take yonks to complete, you won't regret doing battle with the Terrorpods.
Ambitious but not completely successful conversion from the 16-bit arcade simulation.