ST Games Gallery
Slaygon, Oids, Hunt For Red October, Police Quest, Space Quest II, Artic Fox
Time is running out and the United Defense Force needs your help. Seems like the Cybordynamics Laboratory created a virus that can destroy all human life. You'll control the Slaygon, a military robot with the strength of a hundred men and the armor and weapons of a high-tech battle tank. Maneuver the Slaygon through a five- level, 500-room complex and destroy the main computer. Simple!
Below your front view screen, which displays what the Slaygon sees, are the Slaygon's weapons. The cloaking device renders the Slaygon invisible to security robots. The battle sensor displays the amount of energy an enemy is currently storing--if it's too high, turn tail and run. The field generator and laser amplifier let you use conventional weapons that you find. The long-range scanner displays objects within scanner range. And the last device shows the energy level of an installed shield or laser you've taken.
Objects you find can be taken, used and dropped. Taking an object saps energy from the Slaygon--when the Slaygon runs out of juice, it's adios amigos. And only some of the objects you find are useful.
As you move, the front view screen displays a page-flipped 3-D environment (I'd prefer real-time 3-D) consisting of hallways and doors which start to look alike after a while. There are five levels, and finding a security pass gives you access to the next level. Some doors are locked, and some are guarded by a security robot.
There are traps that can prove fatal. At one point you'll face several obstacles that you must overcome. The best strategy is to use the correct weapon or object for each challenge--wasting energy is the worst thing you can do.
The small manual explains the functions of the Slaygon very well. There is a section with hints and tips for those hair-pulling situations. Despite a few minor drawbacks, Slaygon is fun.--SCOTT TUMLIN
$39.95, color. Microdeal (MichTron), 576 S. Telegraph, Pontiac, MI 48053. (313) 334-5700.
Oids combines the daring rescues of Choplifter, the frantic action of Defender and the precision flying of Lunar Lander for a fantastic arcade shoot-em-up. The cruel, powerful Biocretes have created robot slaves called Olds. In your V-wing fighter you must penetrate the Biocrete defenses, land, pick up eight Oids and return to your mother ship.
You begin with four fighters, and when you return to the mother ship you get a bonus fighter. When you lose all your fighters, you can continue playing in practice mode. Your weapons include nuclear pellet guns, fired singly or in rapid-fire bursts, and four Nova Bombs, which destroy anything within range. You also have a shield to protect you against Biocrete weapons.
The Biocretes defend their bases with photon guns, missile launchers, Repulsers, Gravbases, a formidable Horne Base and shields. There is also a Biocrete mother ship, protected by a shield. You release the Oids by hitting Biocrete jails with a single pellet, but when you land, you must be careful not to burn any oids with your exhaust or shield.
The top of the screen displays your score, fuel reserves, shield status, fighters remaining, number of Oids aboard your fighter and the number of Nova Bombs remaining. When you complete a mission, your mother ship takes the Oids to the Oidromida and you receive bonus points. High scores are saved to disk.
Oids' Game Editor is a Lunar Lander construction set that lets you create your own games or edit those already on the game disk. From the Game Library menu you can save or load games to the master game disk or a library disk. Oids is skillfully crafted and detailed. It deserves to be on the wanted list of any arcade game fan.--JOHN MANOR
$34.95, color. FTL Games, 6160 Lusk Blvd., Suite C206, San Diego, CA 92121. (619) 453-5711.
HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER
The Hunt for Red October, based on the best-selling novel by Tom Clancy, is the first computer submarine game involving nuclear subs and the Cold War milieu. The program parallels the novel, with the twist being that the game is played from the Soviet perspective. You, the commander of the Red October, have decided to defect to the United States and surrender your vessel to the U.S. Navy.
To guarantee the cooperation of your crew, you have fake orders calling for your entrance into U.S. waters. Your goal is to pilot the Red October into U.S. coastal waters and deliver it--without arousing suspicion. However, the Soviet authorities are on to you and will stop you at all costs.
Of course, your sub has state-of-the-art weapons systems. Sonar not only helps identify any hostile vessels and mines, but also provides a contour map of the ocean floor (running aground is remarkably easy). Torpedoes can be either computer-controlled (automatically locking onto a target) or directed manually. An infrared targeting system makes night battles a lot easier.
This is the first sub game in which you're the hunted instead of the hunter. No points are gained by destroying enemy vessels. In fact, you want to remain as unobtrusive as possible. The graphics are good, and all the commands are mouse-controlled. However, sometimes there's a slight delay between clicking on a command and program response--which can mean certain death in the heat of battle. Fortunately, Red October comes with a save game routine.
If you are a fan of the Hunt for Red October book, or if you enjoy submarine games in general, this one should make it to your shelf.--HARVEY BERNSTEIN
$39.95, color. IntelliCreations, 19808 Nordhoff Place, Chatsworth, CA 91311. (818) 886-5922.
POLICE QUEST, SPACE QUEST II
Police Quest puts you in the role of a beat cop facing a variety of situations. Some situations are mundane, others are more headline-making, such as the game's goal--to stop the flow of drugs into a small town. Still other situations are adult in nature. These are handled in a realistic fashion and not intended to give young gamers the giggles. Parents, be warned.
It's not easy to win at Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel. For example, five pages at the back of the manual help you through your first day at the station. Try to do it by yourself--you'll likely figure most of it out. But you'll also be late for the morning briefing, which will end the game abruptly. There's a manual of department regulations you must virtually memorize in order to keep the game in motion for long. While realistic, this is frustrating for new gamers and possibly for those who haven't memorized the dialogue in every "Dragnet" episode. But there is a strong sense of actually becoming the cop on the beat.
Police Quest is well-drawn, colorful and fun to play--or just to watch being played.
After a fashion, Space Quest II picks up where the original Space Quest game left off. Again you'll assume the persona of Roger Wilco, a brave sanitation engineer. For those who made it through the first episode, The Sarien Encounter, the villain in Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge will seem quite familiar. Sludge Vohaul is back--he's armed and he's peeved. Vohaul has an army of insuIance salesmen ready to make your life miserable.
While the object of the game is still to survive long enough to foil the evil plot, the humor in Space Quest II makes it easier to shrug off defeat, or maybe laugh it off. Danger lurks at almost every corner. Space Quest II is trickier than the original and graphically superior. The game tests players severely. The programmers evidently recognized this and passed along about nine pages of step-by-step tips on how to get started. My only advice is to save your place often and don't give up the fight.-- RICK TEVERBAUGH
$49.95, color or monochrome. Sierra On-line, P.O. Box 485, Coarsegold, CA 93614. (209) 683-6858.
If you could buy only one game for your Atari ST, it might be Arctic Fox, a tank-simulation game reminiscent of Atari's coin-op Battlezone--but better in every way. Alien invaders are destroying the Earth's atmosphere. You must find and destroy their main fortress to save humanity. Anything not of this Earth that gets in the way is fair game.
Fortunately, you have the Arctic Fox supertank to complete your mission. Your weapons include guided missiles, cannon, dual mine dispenseh and smart bombs. You have unlimted shells to lob at alien tanks, fighters and installations. You drop mines to dispatch tanks coming up from behind. After you launch a missile, your radar screen becomes a flight simulator-type view through the missile's nose camera. When you spot a target you can set your missile to home in on it single-mindedly.
The aliens' weapons include heavy and light tanks, high speed fighters, floating mines that track you, deadly rocket launchers and reconnaissance sleds and flyers. Stealth is important. Alien radar stations spot you, hide their own tanks and jam your missile's radar. The alien communications fort dispatches all the strikes against you. Destroying it will make things easier.
When you are finally done in by the aliens your view window cracks. A final score and a list of alien units you destroyed are displayed, as well as a description of how you were killed. (The Arctic Fox was driven over a cliff, etc)
The Enemy Preview level of Arctic Fox displays and describes each alien unit. Training options include Turbo, Invisibility, Blizzard, Jump Up, Big Radar Map, Tough Fox and Cockpit Off. The Training Mode ends quickly, however--I'd like to have continued blasting away at the aliens. Also, more could have been done with the ST's sound and music capabilities.
But I loved the way that the 3-D graphics put you into a realistic arctic world where you drive your supertank across the tundra to save humanity while the aliens do their best to stop you. For all you frustrated rush-hour drivers, Arctic Fox will let you get through heavy (and heavily armed) traffic in style. This is a game you will return to play time and time again.--JOHN MANOR
$39.95, color. Electronic Arts, 1820 Gateway Drive, San Mateo, CA 94404. (415) 572-ARTS; (800) 562-1112. In CA, (800) 562-1112.
Beyond Zork attempts to improve upon Infocom's time-honored text adventure style by merging it with fantasy role-playing elements.
This game does not take place in Zork's Great Underground Empire, but in the Southlands of Quendor on the other side of the river. Aside from occasional references to Zorkmids, grues and the like, this in no way follows the storyline set in Zorks I-III--Infocom's first big hit.
The storyline is that magic is failing throughout the Southlands and only one brave adventurer (guess who!) can brave the pitfalls and dangers to recover the fabled Coconut of Quendor. Beyond Zork monitors your character's advancement in six key qualities--Endurance, Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Compassion and Luck as well as weapons and armour strength. And as in other role-playing games there is combat galore. It seems as if every other room contains discipline crabs, domheasts, etc. This "hack-and-slash" approach is not what we have come to expect from Infocom game.
Macros on the 10 function keys are now provided for the common commands such as examine, drop, take, etc. The text is in color (red, white and blue). The most obvious addition is a self-mapping feature. As you explore the world of Beyond Zork a map (without labels) is updated in the upper right-hand corner of the screen, with rectangles representing nearby rooms and lines indicating possible exits. This eliminates the need to type in direction commands. You can either use the mouse to point and click on a line indicating the direction that you wish to travel, or use the arrow keys. Wonder what will happen if you jump off the bridge? Now you no longer need to save the game first. Beyond Zork comes with a handy "Undo" command that back-steps you one place if you find you did something disastrous (or just plain stupid).
But all the changes I've outlined take memory and something had to be sacrificed. Unfortunately, Beyond Zork sacrificed exactly what Infocom writers do best--lots of descriptive text with a loving eye for detail that adds a sense of realism to good adventures. Where once there were paragraphs of description when you first entered a room, now there are two or three sentences. Want a description of a creature you've encountered? The game refers you to the picture and text in the package's "Lore and Legends of Quendor" booklet.
It's not intrinsically a bad thing to take advantage of the larger memory in today's personal computers by adding all sorts of bells and whistles to the established Infocom format. But if adding those bells and whistles cuts into the heart of your product, is the trade-off worth it?--HARVEY BERNSTEIN
$39.95, color or monochrome. Infocom, 125 CambridgePark Drive, Cambridge, MA 02140. (617) 576-3190.