Classic Computer Magazine Archive ST-Log ISSUE 19 / MAY 1988 / PAGE 18

The Sentry

Box No. 49
Ramsey, NJ 07446
Low resolution $44.95

In the last seven or eight years, ever since home computers became popular, thousands of games have been released. If you took all those games and sorted them by type—putting all the Pac-man clones in one pile, all the Space Invaders clones in another pile, etc.—you'd find that the actual number of different games is much lower. These days, it's a real treat to come across a truly original piece of game software, one that you'd have a hard time finding a pile for. The Sentry is one such game.

Because the game is so original, it's a little tough to describe, but I suppose you could call it a sort of magical mountain climbing game. The object is to sneak your way up a series of plateaus without being seen by the ever-watchful Sentry and her buddies, the Landgazers. To move around the landscape, you must get energy. Energy is obtained by "absorbing" trees, boulders and Synthoids, a kind of temporary body that you can move in and out of. Unfortunately, you can only absorb an item when you can see the square on which it is resting. And, of course, the higher you are in the landscape, the more you can see.

To move, you must complete a series of actions. First, you place your mouse cursor on a square, then press the R key. This creates a Synthoid to which you can move. Once you've created your Synthoid (at the expense of a goodly amount of energy), you transfer yourself into it by pressing the righthand mouse button. The screen turns blue, you hear a mysterious melody, and you're in your new Synthoid, looking back at the old one. To get a higher view, you can create boulders on which to stand (they cost energy too, of course). The higher you stand, the more you can see, and so, the more trees you can absorb to build up your energy.

To finish a level, you must manage to get to the square on which the Sentry stands (the highest in the landscape) and absorb her, and you must do this without being seen. To complicate matters, the Sentry (and the Landgazers, if they are present) are constantly turning. It's no easy trick to stay behind them.

The game employs effective three-dimensional graphics, the screen displaying what your Synthoid can see. You can scan the landscape in any direction, including up and down, and can even get yourself a bird's-eye view by using the mouse to point to a spot in the sky—a spot which is then used as a reference point for looking back at the landscape. Though the boulders and trees are somewhat lacking in detail, the overall 3-D effect can be stunning.

The manual claims there are 10,000 different landscapes to conquer, so it'll be a long time before you get to them all (I sure haven't yet), making this game a long-term investment, something that you'll never wear out.

The only criticism I have is that the manual does only a minimally acceptable job of explaining the game. You'll have to invest a couple of hours learning how to move around the landscape and figuring out what to do. But the time spent will be well worth the investment. This is a definite winner.

Recommendation: Buy it.