Natural disasters have devastated the planet Earth and the human race is in danger but a missive from an alien race may point the way to salvation. A metal canister hurtles through the void of space with a secret computer code inside it. When the program tape it contains is loaded into an Earth computer, a complex game is revealed but there are no instructions.
It becomes clear that other capsules have been deposited on each of the nine planets in the Solar System, and your mission is to pilot a solo craft, find these capsules and unlock their secrets. First your lander must be sent to Earth to collect the canister there and a long-range map of the solar system so that your mission can begin.
The main game is controlled from the cockpit of a Type 224 Explorer craft. Messages from Control scroll across the top of the main viewscreen, round which icons are grouped. These allow you to manipulate the lander, explore the planets you visit, travel through the depths of space, and access computerised mapping and database systems. At the bottom of the screen is a chart showing the time and the star-date. Underneath this is a panel showing what your next destination is and how long it will take to get there.
A tractor beam controls the lander automatically during descent and ascent above a height of 10 kilometers from the surface. The lander is affected by the gravitational pull of the planet which it is attempting to land on or leave, and manual manipulation of the boosters is vital to ensure a safe journey. A limited quantity of fuel is available, and if too much energy is expended during the landing you'll be stuck planetside for the rest of your days.
During travel between planets, various hazards including space debris in the form of meteorites is encountered and to avoid damage to the ship, an arcade sequence involving some nifty application of the on board lasers has to be played through.
Once the lander has arrived on a planet's surface safely it's time to find the alien capsule and attempt to open it. A robot explorer is available for short range sorties, and once the capsule has been located a locksystem has to be cracked before it reveals another part of the alien puzzle.
Each of the codes yielded by the capsule help to solve the ultimate puzzle set by the aliens and playing the strange alien same is likely to assist in cracking the problem. Martech hint that the Solar System itself is a clue and promise a prize to the first person to contact them after completing the game. Get with it...