Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 125 / JANUARY 1991 / PAGE A18

Spheroids. (Amiga Resource) (evaluation)
by Keven Dixon, Troy Tucker

In the year 2100, nuclear weapons are relics of a forgotten era. In this day and age, countries settle their differences in a duel between representative gladiators. The site of their engagement is the Arena, a manmade battlefield consisting of treacherous pits and hills.

At the start of each duel, six lethal spheroid bombs are randomly scattered about the Arena. Each contestant moves about in a hovercraft, collecting the bombs and then firing them at the opposing gladiator. Because of their spherical shape, the bombs roll across the Arena at high speeds. But at the same time, the undulating surface of the playfield makes their movement unpredictable. As you'll soon learn, the keys to survival in Spheroids are quick reflexes and a deadly aim.

Getting Started

To play Spheroids, plug one or two joysticks into your Amiga and then double-click on the Spheroids icon. After a short delay, the game screen will appear. Before each game, you must select a battlefield. There are seven to choose from: Open, Quadrate, Diamond, Cyclone, Corner, Cross, and Lattice; these are selected by pressing F1 through F7, respectively. Each battlefield, with the exception of Open, contains mounds and depressions. These appear as diamond-shaped objects on the screen and come in three different sizes. Mounds are yellow, while depressions are gray.

Every battlefield contains a teleport device that appears on the screen as a pulsating purple square. When a hovercraft or a spheroid enters the teleporter, it's transferred randomly to another location on the playfield. In the process, the teleported object retains its original velocity and direction.

After you've selected a battlefield, you must select the type of game to play. Press F8 for computer vs. computer, F9 for player vs. computer, or F10 for player vs. player. Play begins after you've made a selection. Initially, each player is given nine hovercraft. The green ship, controlled by joystick 1, appears at the upper right corner of the screen; the blue ship, controlled by joystick 2, is at the lower left. The number of craft remaining for each player is shown at the top of the screen. The game ends when you've destroyed your opponent's entire hovercraft fleet.

If you're slow in making your selections, the game will enter a demo computer vs. computer game. It's a good idea to watch the demo for a few minutes prior to playing, so you can see how the undulations affect the hovercraft and the spheroid bombs. Press Esc at any time to exit.

Playing the Game

Players use bombs, or spheroids, to try to eliminate the opponent. Six spheroids are scattered randomly across the battlefield. These small devices are collected and fired from the hovercraft. When launched, they roll across the battlefield at high speeds. To pick up a spheroid, simply guide your hovercraft over one. When you're ready to fire, push the joystick in the direction you wish to shoot and press the fire button.

Once fired, the spheroid assumes the color of the firing ship. If the opposing player's ship comes into contact with a spheroid armed by your craft, the ship is instantly destroyed. Armed spheroids have enough momentum to propel themselves about two lengths of the Arena. When its energy has dissipated, the spheroid slows, and its color reverts back to neutral red. Either player can now pick it up and rearm it.

Since the spheroid bombs roll along the surface, the mounds and depressions affect the way they travel across the playfield. For example, if a spheroid is fired into a depression, it will roll around the sides until it eventually settles in the center.

When the game is over, the appropriate bar at the top of the screen will flash, indicating the winner. At this point you can change battlefields with the function keys or immediately begin a new game on the same field. Press Esc to exit the demo mode or a game in progress; then press Esc again to quit the program.

Game Tips

There are several playing strategies that you might like to try. If you fire a spheroid into the teleporter, occasionally it will materialize next to your opponent, destroying his or her craft in the process. Also, try using the mounds and depressions for bank shots.

At times, your craft will fall into a depression. If you simply thrust in the direction that you want to go, it will take you a while to escape. The quickest way to get out of a depression is by rocking your hovercraft back and forth until you gain enough momentum to escape.

Sometimes, several spheroids will appear very close together. If you hold down the fire button and maneuver around them, you'll fire a deadly volley in the direction you're traveling. Firing a stream of spheroids into the teleporter is almost certain death for your opponent. Since the teleported spheroids materialize in different locations, your opponent will have a hard time evading all of them.