Your Sinclair


Author: Duncan MacDonald
Publisher: Destiny
Machine: Spectrum 48K

Published in Your Sinclair #37


This is a mutlicoloured viewed from above 'maze-em up' with a little bit of shooting bunged in for good measure - electron microscopes out so we can get in for a really close look.

You are in control of a Trackship, and the idea is to get from point 'A' (the beginning of the game) to point B' the, erm, end of the game by travelling over a horizontally scrolling grid which is full of differing icon squares, all of which do weird and wonderful things to your ship, score and environment. There are absolutely brillions of them - and here are a sample few. Empty hexagon - move onto this to get points. Full hex - does the opposite (loses you points). And neutral hex - does nothing. Arrow squares take you sailing off in whatever direction they face, during which time you have no control of your ship. Um, there are icons which turn all the lights off, icons which make your ship invisible, icons which drain your energy and, really annoying, icons which reverse the joystick control.

There's only one path you can take to be totally successful in your quest, but as there are a myriad of different ways you can choose to go you'll find yourself easily waylaid and stuck in really unhelpful portions of the maze. Surrounded by horrible icons, you won't really want to touch them, but'll have no choice because you've found yourself in a position where it's impossible to back-track. One of the icons is called the Black Hole, and if you trudge onto this one you'll find yourself in a shoot-'em-up sub-game, where you have to (for a minute or so) ward off nasties who are intent on colliding with your mothership. Each time one gets through you lose some of your valuable energy.

Fight scene over, it's back onto the maze grid from where you left it and carry on again time. Should you reach the end of the level, you'll be plonked onto another sub-game in which you can earn yourself some mega points, by moving your ship over a series of jumbled squares which can be 'tripped' by contact - the idea being that they should all be identical by the time your pre-set number of moves is complete. (It's sort of a Rubiks-cube logic, but easier because there's only two dimensions to worry about).

Complete this bonus stage and you'll be bunged into space again for a bit more mother-ship protection. After that it's onto the next level, of which there are ten!

There's a lot of colour in Trackmaster, but it's pretty gaudy, and the graphics aren't exactly state of the art either (it's quite hard to make out your ship at certain, normally crucial, times) but somehow, somewhere in here is a thoroughly absorbing and brillo game. The acid test for a game of this type is the frustration and the 'have just one more go' factor which has been pitched at exactly the right level.

A maze game merged with a few shoot-'em-up moments and logic problems which will have me, for one, going back for more. Pretty good stuff.

Duncan MacDonald

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