Commodore User

Flash Gordon

Author: Bill Scolding
Publisher: Mastertronic Added Dimension
Machine: Commodore 64/128

Published in Commodore User #40

Flash Gordon

How the mighty have fallen - Flash Gordon, the superhero of two generations plumbs the depths in a Mastertronic cheapo. But all is not lost, this budget epic is not half bad, despite being played in three sections that have only a tenuous link. The idea behind the game, as if you didn't know, is to save the world from arch-fiend Ming (cue nasty croaky laugh - ha, ha, ha).

The instructions add that you've only got 24 hours in which to do this. That's all in a day's work for Flash, who's immediately off to explore Ming's jungle world in search of Barin's cave-dwelling. Hiding his golden quiff beneath a space helmet (shame!), he ambles about at a loose-limbed stroll through flip-screens fraught with menace.

Apes descend from the tree-tops, skeletons rise up and sling spears, and life is generally made sticky by ravines, spiders, snakes, birds and hornets. Flash can dispose of most of these with his trusty raygun, replenishing it from the ammo boxes which are thoughtfully scattered amongst the undergrowth. Should he temporarily run short of bullets, most hazards can still be avoided by dextrous use of the jump and duck joystick movements.

Flash Gordon

Below the action screen is an incomprehensible map of the playing area, minus the odd detail - such as paths. In any case, it's not necessary to explore the entire jungle, but merely to discover the shortest route to Barin's abode. You'll probably chance upon this sooner or later - there are some helpful arrows pointing the way - and it lies not more than fifteen screens away from your starting point. Mapping the route is a headache, as the profusion of paths, all criss-crossing and looking much the same, is likely to have Flash running around in circles.

All this is fun for a while, and a wealth of Hubbard effects, from jungle drums to creepy horror music, keeps the attention from flagging. Your exploration isn't halted by Flash falling down the occasionaly ravine or being burnt alive by a fire-breathing dragon; like the hero he is, he suffers only mild concussion - and a loss of valuable time - before he's up and fighting again.

The next section is entitled Battling Barin, and kicks off with another terse telegram of scene-setting followed by a quick burst of loading. The instructions go into some detail about the tactics of combat which I ignored, instead relying on an endless barrage of head and body blows. Beneath the struggle, the neat device of a tug of war depicts the changing state of play, and if Flash delivers more contact blows than his opponent then slowly but surely he gains ground.

Presumably still punch-drunk, Prince Barin generously parts with his valuable jet-bike, and Flash takes to the skies for the third and final part of his quest. The point of view shifts now as you and Flash become one, and a chequerboard landscape rolls beneath your speeding machine. Various meanies come careering madly towards you, as you endeavour to line them up in your sights. The instructions chunter on about the power gates, robots and minefields which you'll have to overcome before you spot the dastardly Ming.

So what have you got? Tarzan, Exploding Fist and Star Wars all rolled into one.

Bill Scolding

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