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Distributor: Psygnosis Price: £25.99

When Einstein split the atom I wonder whether he thought that in a few years people would get the chance to put them back together again?

Atoms seem to be the subject of a new genre in the computer field. With Atomix from Thalion appearing last year, maybe this is the genre of the future?

Atomino is basically a puzzle game. All you have to do is join a number of molecules together so that there are loose links between them. Sound simple? Well, like all puzzle games, it's simple in theory but infuriatingly addictive in execution.

The game grid in Atomino is limited in size so the amount of space you can work in gets smaller the more molecules you use.

All the molecules have a different number of links and they will only vanish when they have been bonded with no outstanding links.

When they vanish you will have more space in which to operate.

The game is timed so you don't have long to play around with the molecules trying to get them to fit.

On some of the higher levels obstacles appear that look decorative but serve only to further reduce the amount of play area you have left.

The molecules come in four forms. The stopper has only one link, so is useful for ending paths.

The two-way is useful for creating and connecting corners. The three-way can be useful for diverting straight lines but the four-way is the really awkward piece - it only ever seems to turn up when you don't need it.

Atomino is one of those games that doesn't really look brilliant. As you can probably see from the screenshots, the magic of Atomino is in its addictiveness. But you will be surprised at just how challenging it really is.

The only real problem with it is that I don't think it warrants the full price tag, especially not £25.99.

If you're heavily into this sort of game then it's a good buy but otherwise give it a miss.

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Do you remember school chemistry lessons? All that talk of atoms, molecules and valences when all you wanted to do is mix things together and see what happens (preferably from a safe distance). Well, with the first puzzle game from Psygnosis since Lemmings you are given the power to mix your own molecules, without all that tedious attention to real chemistry and its unpredictable consequences.

Your task is to combine atoms to form molecules and there are four kinds of molecule, each with a different number of connectors (or valence number). To create a molecule all you have to do is connect two or more atoms together so that all the connections are made and it's as simple as that.
Well actually it's not quite that simple at all. To add a bit of life to the game you have to add the atoms to the playing area in the order that they appear in the supply chute.

Molecular madness
There are two modes of play: in one you simply have to create as many molecules as possible, competing only against the steadily-increasing flow of atoms. In the other mode, each level has a specific task that has to be completed before you can advance on to the next level.

'Create X molecules with at least Y atoms' is selfexplanatory. The 'Remove the given atoms' challenge involves creating molecules around already present atoms, often screwed to the board preventing their movement. The most fiendish task is 'Complete the given pattern' one, where you have to create a single molecule that fills the whole of the playing area.

As the game progresses through the levels, the playing area gets smaller and changes shape so the atoms have to be placed faster and faster - if the seventh ball falls into the supply chute, then the game is over. It may all sound terribly complicated, but after a couple of levels everything becomes clear - if no less frustrating.

On the down side it lacks the attention to detail that is usually attached to Psygnosis' releases. The difficulty factor of the levels is pretty uneven and the fact that passwords are only given every 10 levels makes advancing from levels 50-80ish a needlessly frustrating task.

The soundtrack and background could have benefited from the occasional change à la Tetris. Most annoyingly, there is no facility for mouse control, an option that would increase the playability no end.

Atomic atrophy
In the long term, like many puzzle games, Atomino's lastability suffers because of the game's repetitiveness. Although coming back to the game is an enjoyable experience, it lacks the ability to make you want to pick it up again.

On the whole, though, it is a fast-paced and deeply absorbing game.
If you're a serious puzzle fan, or if you're looking to add a good-quality puzzle game to your collection, then Atomino has much to recommend it. Unfortunately it doesn't quite have the hook that makes a good game into an essential buy.

Meet the molecules
Atomino 1.The single valence atom, useful for capping the ends of chain molecules. Among the most reactive of elements, single valence atoms include hydrogen and sodium.
Atomino 2. The red two-valence atom is particularly useful in forming corners on a molecule. Magnesium is a two-valence atom - pretty reactive under the right conditions.
Atomino 3. The green three-valence atom is very good against the side-walls, but they should be kept out of the corners. They are dull but useful, three-valence atoms include boron and aluminium.
Atomino 4. For that truly porky molecule, lots of four valence atoms are very handy. In real life these are represented by sillicon and carbon, two of the most plentiful elements in the world.

Denksport auf Molekularebene

Atomino logo

Daß aus den simpelsten Ideen oft die faszinierendsten Spiele entstehen, weiß spätestens seit "Tetris" jedes Kind. Jetzt hat ein ostdeutsches Programmierteam gezeigt, daß Klasse-Knobeleien zudem nicht immer aus dem Ausland kommen müssen.

Nicht umsonst hat Blue Byte die Atomar-Tüftelei dazu auserkoren, das neue Unterlabel "Play Byte" einzuweihen: Atomino hat das Zeug zum Suchtgame-Klassiker.!

Es geht darum, in einem Schacht auftauchende Atome zu Molekülen zusammenzusetzen, und zwar unter zwei ganz unterschiedlichen Bedingungen. In Modus A gibt der Rechner vor, welche Moleküle gebaut werden sollen. Man muß dann beispielsweise eines aus mindestens auch Atomen basteln, ein anderes vervollständigen, oder gar ein Molekül in eine vorgegebene Struktur hinein stricken.

Der Witz dabei: Hat man ein Atom ungünstig plaziert, kann es mit dem nachfolgenden Teilchen im Schacht vertauscht werden. Das funktioniert natürlich auch in Modus B, nur daß man hier seine Moleküle nach Belieben zusammensetzt - unter verschärftem Zeitdruck, versteht sich!

Alle paar Level rückt das Programm mit einem Paßwort heraus, damit man nicht immer ganz von vorne beginnen muß. Außerdem gibt's zwischendurch auch Bonusrunden: Hier ist fast der gesamte Screen mit Atomen gefüllt, aus denen man durch geschicktes Austauschen ein Riesenmolekül basteln darf.

Atomino glänzt durch eine knackige Idee und viel Spielwitz, grafisch darf man sich hingegen keine Wunder erwarten - aber das weiß bei solchen Spielen ja auch schon jedes Kind... (C. Borgmeier)

Atomino logo

Chemistry lessons can be fun. Don't believe it? Then let Psygnosis show you...

You'd think by now that programmers would be running out of strange and abstract ideas for puzzle games. Tetris, Pipe Mania, E-Motion, Plotting, Puzznic, Gem-X, all of them pretty fab and all of them completely odd. But no, there's something that no-one's tried yet. No-one's written a game about covalent bonding. Well, until now, that is....

Amiga Power World Of Chemistry, Part One in a series of, er, one, I should think: Covalent Bonding - the principle by which atomic molecules are formed, governed by the number of free electrons in any given atom. Hence, an atom with a single free electron can form a single bond with any other atom, an atom with two free electron can form two bonds, and so on.

And that's the underlying principle behind Atomino. Atoms appear at random in a tube on screen, and have to be placed into the play area. Each atom has a certain of free electrons - you have to place them adjacent to each other so bonds are created and molecules formed. When a molecule has no free electrons left over it disappears, and when a set number of complete molecules are formed the level is cleared.

Later levels introduce obstacles onto the screen which have to be built around, specific atoms which have to be removed, and lower limits on the size of molecules which must be created, as well as increasing the number of molecules required for completion and the speed at which atoms appear. When your tube fills with atoms you can't do anything with, it's Game Over time. (Don't worry if you didn't understand a word of that, it's very easy to pick up in practice). So that's what you've got to do. The question is, how much will you enjoy it?

The answer is, of course, 'I don't know'. Do I look psychic? What I can tell you is that it didn't really grab me personally, but it's kind of difficult to say why. It's very slick, it's novel, and it's tough, but it just doesn't have that elusive magic something that makes puzzle games great.

Call it character, but I just didn't feel any desire to keep playing it after I'd finished a game, it shares a certain amount of feel with Pipe Mania, which I didn't like either, so if you were a fan of that game this could well be your kind of thing.

Don't take my word for it, see it for yourself, but I can't in all honesty recommend this as a good way to spend £25.

Atomino logo

After Thalion's Atomix, comes Psygnosis' Atomino, another molecular puzzler where the aim is to join up a series of atoms to form a chain of molecules. Simple enough, you might think, but each atom has its own valance between one and four so that they need to combine with one, two, three or four other atoms before a complete molecule is formed. Any left over and you've failed in your mission.

Each atom's valance is represented by small stars which rotate around the atom. When one atom is place adjacent to another atom with spare stars, the two join together and one spare star from each atom disappears. When a complete molecule is created, it automatically disintegrates and the game moves onto the next, progressively harder level.

Some levels require you to build the molecule within a confined space whilst others may challenge you to repeat a set pattern or build a chain up to a predetermined size. To the right of the main screen is a pit which slowly fills with extra atoms which need to be placed on screen; if the pit fill up to the top it's effectively game over.

There are also joker atoms which can be placed next to any atom and bonus rounds. The graphics and sounds are simple enough, but its the gameplay that's the clincher. Once picked up you won't be able to put it down.