Having suffered a severe power drain, the good ship Tracker II has drifted into a black hole - only to be thrown out on the other side of the galaxy, right next to an awesome alien construction... the Tube!
This huge device is an alien space waste disposal system, drawing rubbish in through one end to be stored for later collection and re-use.
Taking manual control of Tracker II, you guide the vessel through the Tube, attempting to restore the ship's energy banks and escape the sanitary prison.
There are three main areas to the Tube, the first being the Transfer Zone. Here, a large forcefield drags your ship into the gaping maw of the alien vessel. Caught in its web-like energy matrix, other alien vessels survive by draining the power from ships passing through this tractor beam. Before entering the Tube itself, an attack of these ships is fended off, lest the ship's energy be diminished completely leaving it totally helpless.
On safely reaching the Tube entrance, the Defence Mechanism Tunnel is entered. Here, a series of defence systems attempt to weaken vessels prior to entering the capture area. If, as in your case, ships prove to be capable of damaging the Tube, the defence systems attempt to destroy it instead. You must carefully guide Tracker II through the horizontally scrolling tunnel, avoiding the tunnel walls and missiles which are launched against you.
Successfully negotiating the Defence Mechanism Tunnel facilitates entry to the Capture Area, where previously captured ships are stored ready for the Tube's constructors to dismantle and devour them at their convenience. Many ships still retain a high power level, and docking with these enables you to drain off much-needed energy, and also to collect their unwanted energy crystals which may then be used to bring your ship back up to full power. Docking is carried out automatically by positioning the Tracker II in front of the required vessel. Access to the ship is gained by initiating a colour-coded wiring sequence which effectively opens the ship's hatchway.
Four energy crystals are needed, and once a crystal has been collected, you are transported to the next section of the Tube, where a second level of three zones is confronted.
All the time that I was playing The Tube, I kept getting this feeling of "What if...?". There are loads of good ideas within the game (and some great effects), but the main themes included are simple and derivative of other releases.
The first section is more or less without purpose - you can easily finish it, and after one or two goes it provides nothing more than an inconvenience to be endured rather than played. Only the second two secionds entertain to any degree, and even then the challenge is frustrated by the repetition of having to sit through the first section after each successful round.
The Tube does offer a little challenge - but I'd advise you to have a good look before shelling out your nine quid.
The Tube is not really up to the standard we've come to expect. The graphics are reasonable, but otherwise there's very little in the action to make progress even a tiny bit enjoyable.
Having endured the tedium of the first screen, I found the second screen dull, and the return to the start after the loss of a life is very frustrating.
The third screen is the best of the three, but even that cannot be recommended as it's far too easy. This is an unattractive game, which doesn't offer anything like enough playability.
There are some really nice ideas and effects behind The Tube, but unfortunately they haven't been implemented to either full potential. The first section is remarkably easy, and it's possible to leave the computer and do something else while the level is cleared.
The second is merely a Scramble derivative that suffers from a sluggish and unwieldy control method, and the third (the best of the bunch) is a simplistic puzzle game with a vertically scrolling landscape thrown in as an afterthought.
If a little more thought had been put into the gameplay, The Tube might have been fun. As it stands, it just isn't challenging enough.
Adequate instruction and plenty of options.
Clever use of colour and neat effects, but the tacky sprites tend to mar the appearance.
Poor effects and average music.
The first section is technically clever, but the rest of the levels are straightforward.
Repetitive and limited in variety.
An attempt at something different, which doesn't quite come off.