STARQUAKE by Piper
Whoever writes the intro's to games must have at least a PhD,
and possibly even be a professor; no-one could mis-represent
reality so much without having studied it in enormous detail.
Apparently a black hole has "appeared" and a planet with an
unstable core has leapt out of it. If the core explodes, it takes
the rest of the galaxy with it. Great. Let's ignore this nonsense
and get on with the game.
You control the BioLogically Operated Being, or BLOB for short,
a round, green beachball with eyes, ears and legs dressed up in a
bright red tea-cosy, who has to travel through the planet's
underground caverns and tunnels in search of the core. Once you
get there, you find out which nine of the assorted objects that
are lying around can be used to re-stabilise the planet, then out
you go again to try to get them. Nice and simple. Except that you
only have a limited amount of energy, which is constantly running
down, occasionally being drained by the planet's numerous and
occasionally deadly inhabitants (sorry, didn't I mention them?),
there are various fatal traps lurking about, you can't carry more
than four things at a time and, oh yes, there are over 500
screens to try to search.
On the plus side, you can pick up extra energy, extra lives,
extra bridging units (for getting across gaps or climbing on to
ledges) and extra zapping power for your energy bolts (of course
you've got energy bolts. What's the good of a game where you
can't go around killing things?), all these things apparently
having been left scattered around by a very untidy philanth
ropist. You can also trade items in the Cheops pyramids, as long
as you have your Access card with you. This also gets you through
various security doors which can lead to otherwise inaccessible
areas. Once you've found the objects you want, the way back can
be made substantially easier by using one of the fifteen
teleporters to be found around the complex, each with its own
codeword. When you enter one, dial the codeword of another and
you'll be teleported across to your destination, much easier than
wading through nasties.
Another quick way of getting about is to hop on to a hoverpad
at one of the docking units. Using this, you can fly around
instead of plodding about, which makes going up a lot easier.
Unfortunately, whilst you are on your hoverpad, you can't pick up
any of the core objects, so you have to drop the pad off at the
next docking post and go back for the object.
Graphics are nicely, though not excitingly, used, the animation
being up to standard rather than a breakthrough in technology.
Sound is in a similar catagory. At first sight, I was not
impressed by anything except the "cuteness" of the game, which is
definitely above average. Not expecting much, I started playing.
When I was interrupted by a phone call, I found that about four
hours had gone by without me even noticing. Also without me
getting very far, but we won't go into that.
The necessity for mapping out such a large game is obvious and,
for me, annoying. I hate mapping and call blessings from the
heavens on any company which provides a map with the packaging,
but that is not the case with Starquake. The package does,
however, contain instructions in English, German and French, a
highly commendable move which acknowledges that there are other
people on the planet apart from those in England's own green and
That the game is an updated version of an old eight-bit product
does, at times, seem obvious, but the conversion has been well
done, using the better graphics of the ST to refine what had gone
before rather than make something original for the machine,
whilst preserving the gameplay. Not really a classic, but lots of
fun and very difficult.
Company: Mandarin Software
Price: 19.95 ponds
Value for money: 8
Thanks to Anne Creasey of Mandarin Software and Cuddly Cactus
Amsterdam a division of Stichting Stem (020 6644022) for the review