WHIRLIGIG REVIEW/COMPETITION, AND VIXEN COMPETITION RESULTS
by Stefan Posthuma (with an inspired intro by Richard Karsmakers)
OK. I am now so pissed that I HAD to push this small piece into
poor Stefan's article. Do you know what you have done? Do you
know what you have begun? Poor Stefan has almost been sued by the
local post office to start a P.O. Box, since he has received
literally hundreds of replies to the "Vixen" competition we
offered in ST NEWS Volume 3 Issue 4! He has had to spend many a
good hour to go through all the answers (it's amazing how many
people overestimate Corinne's bust size...), and he's only been
able to get at the five eventual winners last week; after many
hours of work, uncountable bottles of rum and cola, quite some
injections of stanozolol (you should have seen him run the 100
metres in 9 seconds flat!!) and other things that I really
Since Corinne Russell (miss Vixen, remember?) seemed to have
read my little piece of writing I crammed into the previous ST
NEWS issue, and since she just happened to be visiting Amsterdam
some time ago, I have had the enormously stunningly huge honour
of meeting her in person and receiving the five signed copies of
the game that we have to give away (sob sob). In Amsterdam's
Hilton, she sat in the coffee lounge, and I stumbled nearer to
join her. After offering her a cup of coffee with Tia Maria
(which cost my half of my student's allowance, at the devastating
coffee'n'liquor rates at the mentioned hotel), we chatted along.
I went red to over my ears and that stayed so for the rest of the
whole meeting (as a matter of fact, I still haven't quite
regained my usual, computer-pale complexion yet). All we talked
about was the usual thing; photo-modelling, whether she was still
single, and of course Life, the Universe and Everything.
When she decided it was time to get up and join some of her PR
people for a small press conference or something like that, she
even gave me a light kiss on the cheek. "You're ever so nice,"
she said. I sat there for over....well....I don't know. I
regained consciousness when the lounge was all empty and a
cleaner asked me to lift my feet.
Isn't it a pity that this story is all made up?
For the Whirligig Competition, skip this nonsense and go to the
end of this article.
It was a nice day. The sun was out, it was only 40 Celsius and
local Smog level was down to a level 3. Outside radiation levels
had droppped to a 100 rem. Great day for a ride. I filled up the
energy banks of my faithful Skimmer (A nice, fast Toyota Zendar
VI) and hopped in. It rolled a little in its nil-O-grav field and
the engine buzzed when I pushed forward the speed control. I
entered the long tunnel to the Surface and after a short while I
stopped at the Doors. After a few seconds I heard the voice of
the Gate Controller: 'Name and destination?' I told him my name
and that I was going for a leisurely ride. Ok, wait a few more
minutes and the Doors will open. Beware of small tornadoes, there
is a disturbance to the North.
Some more ships assembled in the bay before the giant Doors. They
were built in 3023 just before the War destroyed our beloved
planet. But we were not defeated and we continued life under-
ground. I was quite happy as a Droid Engineer for Cybrus
Technologies, a major robotics and cybernetics firm. Almost two
hundred years after the horrible War, our soceity had recovered.
Almost 7 million people had already left Earth to colonize the
planets of the Alpha Centauri system which were small, uninha-
bited paradizes with a very rich vegetation. They went quite
well, and I had plans to spend my vacation in one of those luxury
places. Maybe Diane could come along, but I always have been a
dreamer. Suddenly, a very low sound broke my thoughts. The Doors
opened. I immediately engaged full speed and the Zendar plummeted
into the desert waste outside. I immediately headed south because
getting caught in a fall-out tornado can be quite harmful. Maybe
we were lucky. The Zylorgs had done their job a little too good.
For days they bombarded our planet with those dirty hammerhead
anti-matter drones. Gladly, we had anticipated their attack for
about 40 years which gave us enough time to improve the Tunnel
Complex under the surface of the planet. We could not stop them
so we dug in. A lot of people died in the War, but the Zylorgs
seemed to have forgotten all about our planet which had changed
into a desert waste of radio-active dust. The oceans were gone,
it was just one big, hostile desert. But somehow, we survived. I
am glad I did not have to go through that Holocaust.
I was skimming the surface at about 300km per hour when I
suddenly noticed a shiny structure on a low hill. It was clearly
visible against the dark earth. First I thought it was one of
those stations that studied the microscopic life that has been
recently discovered in the lesser radio-active parts of the
planet. But when I came closer, it seemed very strange. I reduced
speed and called up a local map, but there was no indication of
the building anywhere. I reduced speed even more, and after a few
moments I was hovering over the structure. Using the cameras I
was taking pictures of it when it happened.
I suddenly felt very suspicious, and looked to the left. I saw a
large 'thing' pointed at me. I started to feel very nervous and
wanted to get away as soon as possible when the sound started. It
was terrible. I don't know how to decribe it. I put my hands over
my ears as tight as possible but I could not stop it. It seemed
like it was entering my head and slowly frying it from the
inside. Then it became silent and the last thing I remember was a
very bright flash....
The next moment I was in a strange environment. I was sitting in
a small chair, in an even smaller cockpit of a very strange ship.
The screen in front of me showed a hideous creature. It was
humanoid, but with a face looking like a crab. Little tentackles
were moving around, the eyes were dark and piercing and the mouth
was a hideous beak, snapping as it talked in clear,
understandable English. I saw one of these things before, on the
tri-D in a documentary about the Lost Ones, a race of humans that
lived on the Surface, mutated by radiation and very, very
hostile. This is what it said:
'Ah I see that you have survived my little Stunner. Good. You
need not know my name, but sufficient to say that I am a Lost
One. I have caught you and I will use you to get something for
me. You see, we Lost Ones are not as stupid as you people might
think. We constructed some ships that took us to other solar
systems, and on one of my journeys, I obtained the Whirligig
Device. A computer that can create a Universe of 4 billion
Eigenspaces. Now listen carefully because I am only going to tell
this to you once. I hope your mathematics are ok...
"As I told you, the Whirligig Device can create a Universe. Not a
normal one, but a very special one consisting of 4 billion
Eigenspaces. An Eigenspace is a small space containing mostly
harmless asteroids. There are all numbered from 1 to 4 billion.
Now let me tell you about Perfect Numbers". It paused a moment,
took a little lizard-looking creature from a jar and squished it
above its mouth. Greedily, it devoured the pulp that came out of
the lizard. Sick.
Slobbering a little, it continued. "A Perfect Number is a number
that is the sum of all its divisors excluding itself. Below 4
billion, there are only 5 of those numbers, 6, 28, 496, 8128 and
33550336. The Eigenspaces having these numbers are called
'Perfect Spaces' and they contain the 5 Perfect Solids. Combined,
the 5 solids will transport you back to this world and will bring
me and you unmeasurable wealth.
There is one thing that kept me from going in myself a long time
ago, the Enemy. Each Eigenspace is inhabited by a number of ships
and objects that will try to stop each intruder. Some of these
are just passive objects, but there are Fighters and Destroyers
that will hunt you relentlessly. They are robot-controlled and
have no mercy or whatsoever. If you get blasted, you will escape
in a small Pod, and you will get a new ship. But there are only
12 ships available, so if you get blasted while flying the
twelfth ship, you will be ejected into space in your Pod, and
will be doomed to starve to death because the only way out is
through the 5 Perfect Solids.
You can however defend yourself. Each ship has a limited supply
of missiles and four chaff pods. Take care with the missiles.
They are very dumb and seek out the closest object. If there is
no object, they will seek out your ship! Also, they can't turn
really quick so they might start to orbit the object they were
meaned to destroy, and if you get in their path, they will most
certainly destroy you. The ship is also equipped with four
chaffs. These are more intelligent weapons, destroying almost
always the enemy, but you have only four of them. Also, you have
a limited supply of fuel.
To prevent fuel and weapons running out, there are Depots in
various Eigenspaces. There are Fuel depots, Missile depots and
Let me tell you about the Stargates. Each Eigenspace has at least
three Stargates, leading to three other Eigenspaces. These
Stargates are one-way. Once through a Stargate, you cannot return
the way you came. The Stargates lead to the following Eigenspace
if your Eigenspace is let's say Eigenspace number N:
- Eigenspace N+1
- Eigenspace S where S is the sum of all the divisors of N
excluding N itself.
- Each Eigenspace P*N where P is a prime factor of N. There
may be up to 9 such Stargates.
Ok, this is it. Your mission will start in a few moments. There
is a Pilot Manual in the ship telling you about the controls and
the route to Perfectspace 33550336, which is quite difficult to
figure out yourself, so I did it for you. I had enough time
anyway. If you find all Perfect Solids, you will be warped back
to this place and you'll be a free man again. Good luck".
The image on the screen dissapeared and normal view was restored
showing a dark, ominous space.
After studying the cockpit carefully, I came to the conclusion
that there was no way out. After feeling very terrible for a few
moments I decided to study the Pilot Manual. It was the only
thing I could do. I decided to go for it and moments later I was
heading for Eigenspace number one, ready to begin my mission.....
Mike Singleton is a strange man. He always succeeds in size-
records. First he did it with Lords of Midnight on the 48K
Spectrum, an adventure containing more than 10,000 graphic
locations squeezed into 48K of Z80 code! Later, it was ported to
the commodore 64 and due to great success, sequels like Doomdarks
Revenge and Dark Sceptre started to appear with even more
Now he is active on the ST and has created a game with over 4
BILLION sectors. If you spend a minute in each sector, this game
will take you eight thousand one hundred and seventy one years of
continous play! The size is really incomprehendable. Massive.
The plot of the game is described in the above Novelloid Without
a Proper End. All sectors are mathematically interconnected so
you should be able to find your way to the 5 Perfect Spaces if
you are smart enough.
The graphics of the game are quite nice. Your ship is in the
middle of the screen with all objects flying around it. Action
takes place in 2-D, but everything is in solid and shaded 3-D
graphics which are very fast. Some objects, like the depots are
quite big, but they still revolve flawlessly. Also, the entire
screen is used. You can call a control panel that shows you
things like a sector map (enemies are not showed, only Depots and
Stargates) and Fuel and Rocket usage and of course your score.
The sound is limited to a nice, merry tune by Paul Robotham and
some explosions. Simple but effective.
Controlling the ship is a little difficult. Moving the mouse left
will result in the ship starting to rotate to the left. You can
stop this rotation by moving the mouse to the right very shortly.
But a little too much movement to the right will result in a
rotation to the right so I often fly around a little swaying like
a druken space pirate. Also the enemy ships carrying illustrative
names like Sabre, Night Shade and Condor can be pretty persistent
and fire very nasty little rockets. Your missiles are increadibly
stupid and I often end up shooting myself. Luckily there are the
more intelligent Chaffs but you have only four of these and Chaff
Depots are not very widely spread.
Playing the game is nice for a while but it soon gets a little
boring. It is hard to imagine to get bored when there are 4
billion sectors to explore, but they are all basically the same,
containing a collection of enemies. Graphically, the game is
attractive, but the difficulty and uniformity of the levels make
you loose interest quite fast. But the hardened shoot-them-up
fans will like it because the enemies never run out. I mean there
are over 100 billion enemies to blast! Also, there are 3.8
billion depots. The size of this game keeps amazing me. Also, the
mathematical background is quite original. This is why I am sorry
that has not much lasting interest.
Value for Money: 7
Overall rating: 7+
Remark: Too bad about the poor lasting
In cooperation with British Telecom, ST NEWS is proud to present
yet another competition. This time, there are five copies of
Whirligig in my drawer, waiting to be given to those who know the
Questions to the Answers! (or was it the other way around?) The
five questions are:
1 - Who designed Whirligig ST?
2 - Which two types of weapon do you fire in the game?
3 - Name 3 enemy ships present in the game
4 - Who is the music by?
5 - Name 3 other Mike Singleton games
That's it! Send the answers before the 31st of December to:
ST NEWS - Whirligig comp.
Negende donk 4
NL-5233 PJ Den Bosch
The winners will be drawn from the correct answers by my
grandmother (who is totally impartial) and the five winners will
receive their copy soon after the closing date.
Many thanks to Ania Makowska from British Telecom for arranging
the competition and the prizes.
Ah! We nearly forgot to mention the winners of the Vixen
competition! These lucky five are:
Michael Raasch, West Germany
le Bjrkevegen, Sweden
Andrew McAhouney, Ireland
Jean-Marie Leloupe, France
Peter van Overveen, Nederland
These people will get the exclusively signed copies of the game
sent to them as soon as possible!