ST Format1st June 1990
Published in ST Format #10
Escape From The Planet Of The Robot Monsters
If you've been in an arcade recently you may have seen a machine blaring out a strange 40's serial-style soundtrack and flashing up comic-book images. This strange machine is Atari's coin-op Escape From The Planet Of The Robot Monsters. Plotted in the same vein as the classic adventures of Superheroes like Flash Gordon and Dan Dare, the experimental synthetic Planet X is being invaded by Reptilons. These dangerous and twisted lizard-like monsters have imprisoned the planet's scientists and forced them to work in the factories producing Reptilon robots which will be used to invade Earth.
Jake and Duke are the two tough warriors given the unenviable task of travelling to Planet X to try and free the hostages - who include the eminent scientist Professor Sarah Bellum (cerebellum? Oh go back to sleep!).
The hostages are held in the factory sections. These are split into levels linked by escalators with a teleport located on the top floor. To stop renegade hostages making a break for it, a power switch has to be thrown before the escalators can be used, so Jake and Duke must reach the switch before proceeding to the next floor. Each enough, except that robot troopers and guards armed with laser guns are trying to stop you.
Some factory sections are empty save for a large Reptilon robot - rather like a Zoid - which requires some heavy artillery to defeat. There's no hanging around because there's a strict time limit imposed. Once a complete section has been cleared, the two heroes must negotiate a metallic maze in their cyber-sleds.
Jake and Duke bravely fight their way through the entire complex, taking on the might of the Reptilon forces, so that Professor Bellum can return safely to Earth and do sterling work for the good of manking by inventing yet another pain killer.
The overall appearance of Escape is very similar to the arcade original. All the original elements have been retained, including the comic-style intro and the cartoon sprites. The animation is packed with humorous touches, such as Jake and Duke clambering back onto the platforms after taking a step too far and the stunned look of the hostages when a stray shot hits them.
The tunes have been copied from the coin-op, but using the ST sound chip means that a certain amount of power and atmosphere has been lost. The game has a slick feel to it, which is good news at a time when mediocrre conversions are appearing at an unhealthy rate.
Escape's sense of humour makes the game a joy to get into. It's great fun finding all the quirky pieces of animation and watching the heroes race around battling the Reptilon robots. The control method has been carefully designed, resorting to use of the keyboard only when really necessary, so it's easy to get straight into the frantic action.
Once the jokey graphics have worn off and you've reached the end of the game for the first time, the gameplay can become repetitive. Fans won't be bored and newcomers will take a long time to get to that point, so that's no real problem. Check the game out - it's a superb conversion!