Amstrad Computer User


Publisher: Activision
Machine: Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Computer User #35


When terrorists overrun and capture a space colony (he read from the back of the jacket), there's only one course of action. Send in the deadliest, most expert team of trained killers available. Send in the Quartet! The Amadeus Quartet? They wield a fine set of bows, but perhaps chamber music isn't the most advanced weapon for winkling out the wicked terrorists. The Monkees might do it. They were a load of winklers.

I jest. The Quartet is Edgar (honest), Lee, Mary and Joe. As befits a finely integrated fighting force, they each have a forte. Edgar, he jumps (and vacuums), Lee totes a meeee-an wide beam gun, Mary is hot-hot-hot on the powerful bazooka, and Joe plays bass. And he runs fast.

The game starts by letting you pick which one of these proficient pulverisers you wish to be responsible for in the deguerillarisiation that is about to happen.


Those with a consenting friend can chose the two player game and have twice the fun for the price of one, Grunt. Once the player is in the arena, it's blast away time.

If it moves, shoot it. There's no need to worry about the usual problems of energy, ammo or shields. None of that mamby-pamby faffing around, you shoot, run, then shoot again. Aharrrr.

If you physically tangle with an alien then you die, but if he gets it from your gun/bazooka/thingumywidget then he dies. Read that sentence through a couple of times and you'll see that it all hangs together. It might not be as profound a logic as that expressed by Russell and Whitehead in their Principia, but for a game such as this, it should do. And did Bertie ever write a video game? Well then.


But don't be fooled into thinking that this game is lacking in the old subtleties. Wonder of wonders, there are Quartet Power-up Goods about. Blunder into a jetpack, for example, and you can fly. Mirabile dictu. Trot on to a trampoline and you can jump higher, a clock and the aliens stop for a bit, smart bomb potion (thanks to Doc Robert) and they all die at once, and so it goes.

Most of the aliens die with just the one bullet. But on each screen there is a Large Mechanical Monster. This absorbs a lot of bullets before expiring, but then it releases a key with which you can progress to the next of the fifteen levels.

In between screens there is a touching award ceremony where any bonus you might have accrued is pasted on to your score. Touched I was.


Meanwhile, the aliens have turned from terrorists on the outside of the jacket into pirates on the inside. They burst from pimples on the walls of the rooms and bear down on you, Their disguises (aerosol cans, walking Y-fronts et al) don't fool you for a moment.

As you progress up the levels, the graphics change colour and the occasional new sprite pops up. The excitement builds through an almost unbearable crescendo to... well. Something.


I feel unwell. My fatal mistake was playing this game after Game Over, a bit like a eating a packet of Cheezy Crunchies after a slap-up at the Savoy. This game leaks boredom, tedium and lack of care the way the other oozes consummate skill.

The graphics are terrible, flickery, juddery and monochromatic. Why use a four colour mode if you only display two colours? Pah. It would be overpriced as a Spectrum cheapie with those graphics. The only fun is trying to guess how to start the game from the front screen without deciphering the instructions.


When I played Wonderboy I thought, what crummy sprites, they should've used Mode 1.

Then I played this and discovered that they can do just as poor a job in Mode 1 as they did in Mode 0. The game shows all the things not to do with sprites. They are single colour, small and flicker like an early Charlie Chaplin movie. The arcade game was always in the shadow of Gauntlet but that is no reason for an inferior conversion. The money Activision have spent on advertising this game should've been spent on better programming.


Quartet is an odd game, it feels very American, cute characters which include a token female sent around a space complex weapons blazing. If you want to see this kind of thing done well look at Exolon, there is no reason why Quartet could not have been just as good.