The Sentinel
By Firebird
BBC Model B

Published in Computer & Video Games #82

The Sentinel

Love it or hate it, you can't ignore The Sentinel. Now that the Amiga version has been released, practically everyone has the opportunity to try one of the weirdest games ever written.

The Amiga version is a bit of a disappointment, in that it doesn't make any significant use of the micro's superior graphics and sound abilities. Turn the sound off and you could well be playing the original BBC version.

That's not to say that the graphics are poor; indeed, they're quite unlike anything you'll have seen in any other game.

The Sentinel

Created using fractal techniques, the endless 3D landscapes of The Sentinel consist of slopes, planes, and strange objects. Using the keyboard or mouse, you can change your viewpoint freely, scrolling the landscape to reveal ever new vistas of strange complexity.

Your aim is to defeat the hooded Sentinel of each level by converting objects into pure energy, and using it to transfer yourself to higher levels. To do this you must create new bodies for your Synthoid robot, and move into them. You are first shown an overview of the landscape, showing the Sentinel, its Sentry henchmen, and the details of the topography. You can access an aerial view of the landscape at any time by aiming your viewpoint into the sky and pressing HELP. Around the landscape are dotted crystalline trees. These are your raw energy building blocks. Using the cursor, centre of a tree and press A to absorb it.

You'll see it disintegrate and your energy readout at the top of the screen will increase. As you absorb energy, the Sentinel will become aware of you, turn to face you and start to absorb your energy. This means that you have to keep moving to survive.

As you progress you will come across other enemies including Meanies, which project you at random through hyperspace unless you absorb them first. Losing your vantage point is bad enough, but unless you have enough energy, a jump will kill you.

You might find the strategy and fast thinking involved in The Sentinel fascinating, or you might find it stunningly boring, but the fact is that you will probably never finish it. There are 10,000 levels to complete, each with an 8-digit access code which is revealed when you complete the previous level. Make sure you see The Sentinel, but before you buy, ask whether the thrill is likely to last for 10,000 levels.

Chris Jenkins