Arachnophobia. (computer game) (evaluation)
by Carol Holzberg
On a dark and bug-infested night, deep in the steamy jungles of South America, an arachnid steals passage on a plane headed for the United States. Immediately upon arrival, it mates with harmless domestic spiders. Horders of oversize, poisonous offspring result, ready to take on the world.
The deadly new species reproduces at an alarming rate. One town after another falls prey to the infestation. Bitten humans drop like flies. Only Delbert McClintock, ace exterminator, and his Spider Infestation Control Team can eradicate the poisonous threat. Loosely based on the plot of a movie by the same title, Disney's Arachnophobia weaves a web of arcade action that's sure to keep you busy for several hours.
As Delbert, you maneuver your truck through seven spider-infested town on life-threatening arachnid search-and-destroy missions. Your goal: Locate and terminate the Queen, mother of all spiders. Only when the Queen has been throttled can you proceed to the next town. But every town has several buildings to explore, and each building has loads of surprises -- mostly of the eight-legged variety. Obliterate all the bugs in a building and save defenseless human victims along the way to earn extra bug bombs. Terminate every Queen on the homefront, and you can clobber critters in the heart of the Amazon rain forest.
Realistic bug-crunching sound effects, digitized human speech, and an eerie musical score really give you the creeps when you plug Disney's inexpensive ($34.95) Sound Source peripheral into your computer's parallel port. Don't go on a bug raid without it! Arachnophobia's animation is so well designed and the sound effects so authentic that you'll be watching where you plant your feet long after you shut down your computer.
Easy to play, Arachnophobia nevertheless proves difficult to win. While carrying out your mission, you must avoid the menacing little monsters, each intent on biting you. Use your Toxi-Max insecticide to fumigate every spider and egg sac. Domestic Soldiers succumb easily to a single spray of the bug gun. They also squish underfoot if you stomp them.
Heavy-footed boot techniques won't work on Queen spiders and South American beasties. These bugs require massive doses of Toxi-Max or the firepower available from an aerosol flamethrower. Be prepared to meet your maker if you run out of Toxi-Max at an inopportune moment. Delbert's company vehicle has a never-ending supply, but when you leave a house before locating the Queen, the building repopulates with spiders! You'll need that unlimited insecticide.
Delbert can sustain up to four Soldier spider bites before dying. He can suffer only two bites from a Queen and merely a single chomp from the macho South American menace. Restore his health with a quick shot of antivenin, if you can locate the first-aid kit. Pummel an egg sac, and the directional arrow on the Bugometer compass will point you in the direction of the Queen.
Follow Delbert's techniques, and you will live long and profit. Slip up once too often, and your days as an Arachnid Abatement Technician are numbered. Arachnophobia may not offer many intellectual challenges, but action games don't necessarily require tedious puzzles. Grab your Toxi-Max and go on a bug hunt!