Red L.E.D. (Starlight) Review | Commodore User - Everygamegoing

Commodore User

Red L.E.D.
By Starlight Software
Commodore 64/128

Published in Commodore User #49

Red L.E.D.

Red L.E.D. is a go-faster stripes, flared wheel arch, fluffy dice version of Marble Madness. If you managed to conquer the Electronic Arts offering and you still haven't had enough of Legoland graphics, don't pick up another game before you've bought this one.

The idea of Red L.E.D. is simple and conforms to the strict Marble Madness specification of falling off as often as possible. But there are loads more frills to make it loads more challenging. You're confronted with a network of 37 interlinked screens. Your task is to make a left-to-right link between all the screens, indicated as hexagons on the grid display. And you have an hour in which to do it.

You capture a particular scree collecting the specified number of energy pods (There are usually four of these and they look a bit like pyramids). Then you must find the exit, which appears as a hole marked out by four flashing arrows. The arrows won't flash unless you've got all the energy gods. What do you do? You jump down - like a lemming.

Red L.E.D.

Once a screen is captured, it's indicated in flashing colours on the grid. If you're zapped before capturing a screen, that screen is irretrievably lost and appears in white.

Instead of three lives you get three droids, each with different and pretty weird characteristics. Droid one looks like a football with gnashing teeth bouncing slowly up and down on a spring. Droid two is a diving helmet without the diver and droid three is a frisbee with a pee shooter perched on top.

In case you think this is all superfluous, it's because each droid is good at one particular thing. The blurb won't tell but I'll give you the benefit of extensive gameplay. The football with big gnashers doesn't slide helplessly down slopes, it sticks. And the frisbee isn't burned up by acid lakes. The other two droids must pick up a snowflake which freezes the lake before they can venture over it.

Red L.E.D.

As you progress through the game you begin to become familiar with the different screens and you'll get an idea of which is the best droid to select. Generally, the outer screens are the steepest and most difficult, so save the gnashing football for those if you can.

Now for the nasties. Like Gauntlet, there are loads of meanie generators sprinkled around out of which meanies swarm all over the terrain. The meanies are just as weird as the droids. Gnashing teeth (again), crab-like claws, four-legged starfish.

The meanies can't shoot you but you can shoot them. A better idea is to shoot the generators. These look like four strawberries bouncing up and down on a square and they can stand considerable zapping before they blow up. This may increase your score but will slow you down. Better still are the meanie-freeze devices scattered around. Bump into one of these and suddenly all goes quiet. The meanies just appear, leaving you with a well-earned breathing space.

Red L.E.D.

More time can be gained by rolling over the various time capsules dotted around. But be careful, there are two types, spinning clockwise and anti-clockwise. Rolling over the clockwise spinning model gives you an extra five minutes. The anti-clockwise type reduces your time by the same amount. Falling off anything, by the way, also loses you a minute.

But scoring points can't be ignored either because every 10,000 one letter of the word BONUS appears somewhere on a level. Collect all five and you can replay the last landscape with complete immunity from getting zapped.

Finally, there are various smart bombs dotted around. These can't be stored up, but they will dispose of meanie generators. So the idea is to get one and make for the nearest set of jumping strawberries before pressing the Fire button to set it off.

Red L.E.D.

Whilst all this is going on, you must keep an eye on your energy which goes up when you collect something but goes down whenever a meanie collides with you.

Apart from that, Red L.E.D. plays much like Marble Madness - similar yet more complex screen layouts, the same nasty inclines, slopes and narrow pathways and the same need for precise joystick control. If we hadn't seen it all before it would look pretty stunning.

So graphics are well up to standard. But sound is disappointing, not even a little tune. One nice touch is the sound of running water that goes on in the background. I thought my telly was going up the creek until I found out it was the acid lake.

I reckon Red L.E.D. is a worthy addition to Marble Madness and its clones and is probably the most difficult and most challenging of its type. If you're still hooked on this kind of game, Red L.E.D. is a challenge not to be missed. If you're late into it forget the rest, just get this one.

Bohdan Buciak

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