Amstrad Action1st November 1988
Published in Amstrad Action #38
A poor defenceless insignificant little planet, known as Earth (what a dull name!) is yet again under attack from hostile alien forces. You, the Vindicator, stand between alien domination and victory for the Earth. You've managed to infiltrate the alien fortress and now all you have to do is to find the hidden bomb components and blow the aliens into little pieces.
In the centre of the screen is the playing area with various other bits around it. An oxy-gum indicator, your lives and score are at the bottom of the screen. On the left is a gun symbol with a figure to show how much ammunition is in it and to the right are your magazines, a display of objects carried and the compass direction.
The bomb components are hidden within the four level complex; each level being a maze of passageways. Doors lead into rooms which contain computers, ammunition, lift passes, oxy-gum or computer passes. The last four are generally guarded by aliens who come in two flavours: stupid and mean. [All resemblance to AA staff living or comatose is purely intentional - Ed.]
To access a computer, you need a computer pass. An anagram is displayed and you have to solve it in order to get hold of the map showing your position and the location of a bomb bit. Lift passes are needed to move between floors and oxy-gum is essential to stop the toxic atmosphere killing you. Oxy-gum keeps you alive for a limited time and you need to find more when it starts to run out.
Stupid aliens always shoot at the same height, so duck and they miss - but the mean ones fire directly at you, no matter where you stand. When they die, they drop any equipment that was on them and you can pick it up. Mean aliens take more shots to kill and the different magazines that can be loaded into the guns come in a variety of powers. More powerful ammunition finishes off the bad guys quicker.
After escaping from the maze and getting all the parts of the bomb you go for a fly and take on the mechanised legions of aliens. More aliens await your destructive powers in a jeep race across the land and finally you enter the catacombs where the Giant Guardian must be defeated. Passwords allow you to go to the later stages of the game, avoiding the tedium of having to complete stage one all over again.
An atmospheric tune plays on the title screen and throughout the game, and another plays briefly before the action starts. Sound effects are adequate. Sprites are large and well-animated with colour used reasonably well, though it would have been better if there were more.
Though it's not the most sophisticated program ever it does at least have some variety. The anagrams may not be difficult to solve (MALEK MLB = MIKE LAMB), but it gives you something to think about for a while instead of just blasting everything. It gets confusing when you push the joystick up because you turn through 180 degrees, and if you don't keep an eye on the compass you're soon lost and very disorientated. Apart from that, it's a pretty good game with plenty of action to keep you playing for weeks.
The graphics look really terrific, even if they are a little bland. In a weird way, this helps create a gloomier atmosphere - as does the sound.I liked playing this game a great deal, but I have to admit the controls got right up my nose. Why on earth didn't they have simple left/right/up/down? It's too complicated and you find it doesn't work 'naturally'.
The difficulty level is just right, and I'll be playing this for a good few evenings to come.
Green Screen View
There's lots of green on the colour version, so no problem.
First Day Target Score
Complete stage one.
P. Large, well animated sprites.
N. A little too green for my taste.
P. Excellent tune plays throughout the game.
Grab Factor 77%
P. Puzzles to solve as well as some not very mindless blasting.
N. Initially very confusing with the 180 degree rotation.
Staying Power 83%
P. Three stages to complete, with the action varying in each one.
N. First stage in the maze is disorientating and tricky to complete.
A good mix of puzzles and action make a good game.