By Elite
Spectrum 48K

Published in Computer & Video Games #91


Wanderer is a 3D space shoot-'em-up featuring real 3D graphics of the blue and red specs variety on the ST and Amiga versions. As if that wasn't enough to make it stand out from the crowd, the programmers have bestowed upon it the weirdest plot this side of the Horsehead Nebula.

Not surprisingly, you play the "Wanderer" of the title, a space mercenary under contract to a federation of ten planets which is languishing under the thumb of the local dictator, Vadd. Your mission is to destroy Vadd and his army of wire-frame spaceships, by collecting enough cats to allow you entry into his space fortress, called the Sphynx.

Cats are now galactic currency, and earning the 8,000 cats you need to enter the Sphynx is a matter of wandering (you're the Wanderer, remember?) between planets and collecting playing cards. Each planet's strength is dependent on having a good Poker hand, and they will pay a pretty pussy for any good cards you can put their way. The better the hand, the more cats you collect in payment.


Interspersing the pussy Poker pastimes are the 3D battle sequences which have to be completed to allow you to move between sectors and planets. While abstract blastables whizz towards you out of the void, you have to manoeuvre your ship so as to get them in your sights, then let rip with the lasers. There aren't any tactics nor is there any fancy flying involved. Bit if a disappointment, really. The only really stimulating sections are a flight down a tunnel to pick up an extra shield, and a trip through a winding black hole passage.

The 3D effects on the 16-bit versions are, well, they're not too bad, and they do give a fair impression of things whizzing out of the screen at you. However, they do have a couple of drawbacks. Once you've focused your eyes on the centre of the screen where the action is, reading the gauges and dials at the top of the screen means refocusing, and even then things aren't terribly clear.

The other problem lies with the VDU you're using. While the 3D effect showed up pretty well on monitors in the C&VG office, back home on my ST and Ferguson colour portable I got nothing that was really convincing, even after fiddling with the contrast and colour controls.

The Spectrum version doesn't feature the 3D option, which is hardly surprising considering the colour problems which would have to be overcome. Unfortunately, the action in this version is pretty slow, which is surprising considering how well the Spectrum usually handles vector graphics.

I didn't like Wanderer much. There just isn't anything in the game to keep you coming back for more. Even the 3D gimmick doesn't compensate for the vacuous gameplay, so I'm afraid this gets the thumbs down from me.