Amstrad Computer User1st August 1984
Published in Amstrad Computer User #1
With titles like Jet Set Willy, Manic Miner, Atic Atac, it's not surprising that the inspiration for games naming is on the wane.
There was a time when Codename Mat would have been called '3D-Hyper Mega Space Invaders'- or worse. As it is, Mat stands for 'Mission Alien Termination' - not exactly the sort of sentiment to broadcast in case we are Not Alone. That being said, the program itself is the classic space romp of all time. The solar system is being invaded by a bunch of unpleasant aliens who are gradually creeping through from the outer reaches towards earth. Your mission is to stop them.
This game combines the strategic skills of the classic 'Star Trek' programs that those of you with long memories may remember from the early days of CRM S100 systems. In other words, you have a series of maps and tracking devices to help locate the little blighters as they wend their way towards earth. With these aids you must seek out and destroy as many of the aliens as possible (they are plotted on the Solar Chart for your convenience) by engaging them in one of the best 3D space fighter simulations you will ever see. When you get hit, sooner or later you need to get repaired and refuelled, and docking with a planet or moon is one of the most delightful interludes in the game. Don't get too close, or gravity will draw you to your doom.
If you do nothing else in your first session, you must dock with earth to see the detail that's gone into the game at every stage. Planets like Mars have their better known features on view - and although there isn't time or space to fit in all the known moons of planets like Jupiter, astronomers amongst players will not feel unduly cheated.
The only criticism is that the game takes a good evening to play properly. But if you've had enough of the ten minute wonders then this is a must. Originals of CodeName Mat may be changing hands in fifty years time in much the same way as the first editions of famous novels.
Micromega are further proof that for connoisseurs of good software that it's quality rather than quantity that counts in the end. If all they produce is one game every three months, and they're all as good as this, then you'll need three months before you are ready for the next one anyway!