It's a real quarker

Atomix logo

AALL you have to do to get through Atomix is link a few jolly old atoms together so that they form some jolly old molecules. How? Simple. Just select the atom you want to move with the joystick and shunt it around the screen till it drops into place.

What? You do not remember anything from chemistry lessons? Never mind - we will give you a picky of the required molecule in the bottom left corner of the screen, and put letter codes on each atom so there is no need to regret whatever it was you were up to when the rest of the class was paying full and undivided attention.

Well, that is the plot. Even with journalistic embellishments (did you notice?) you could write it on the back of a postage stamp. Literally. Actually playing Atomix, however, is another kettle of dishcloths.

As I mentioned, the main action in this game is the movement of atoms around the screen so that they combine to form molecules. Control of each atom is severely limited, however. Atoms can be "pushed" in a vertical or horizontal direction, and they just keep on trucking until they hit something that, er, well, makes them stop. This is totally frustrating, and in later levels you find yourself planning five, six or even seven moves ahead.

As if this brain mangler is not enough, each molecule has to be formed within a time limit. The first few time limits seem fairly generous, with a minute to join a couple of oxygens to a hydrogen and form water. But by the time you are trying to form propene on level four you will be yelling "Stop the clock!"

Of course, the quicker you complete a molecule the more points you score, and points mean extra lives (probably something quantum). Which will come in very handy when you lose the single one you start the game with.

Then there are the mazes. Did I not mention them? Every molecule has to be completed inside a maze, and there is usually only one place the molecule will fit. So you can expect to spend a good portion of a first attempt at any level working out just where to place the molecule.

Then, just when you are about to place the last atom, you realise it is stuck in a corner of the maze and its position makes finishing the molecule impossible. Aaargh!

Every five levels you will encounter a bonus level. These often require speedy thinking and fast reactions, but are just different enough from the molecule forming to give your braina tweak in a new direction. The first bonus screen has you adopting sliding puzzle techniques to arrange nine jars containing different amounts of liquid in order of increasing "fullness".

Atomix even has a two player mode. Both players work on the same screen, one taking over where the other leaves off. You only get 30 seconds each, and it is up to you whether you play together to build molecules or tactically to destroy each other's attempts.

So often good games are let down by sound. Atomix has a fabby intro tune - make sure you listen to the whole thing - and some great effects.

Just for the record though, I do have one or two gripes. The main one is that when you are dead you are dead. Now this is OK in real life, but in a computer game we kinda like passwords to later levels, or save game options. Atomix has neither - which means it is back to the beginning every time. Pesky. Especially when the game seems to take ages to load from disk.

My only other gripe is a graphical one. While the colour and graphics are good, they never quite live up to the expectations generated by the intro screens. Still, what do you expect from a mindbender?

Atomix is without a doubt one of the most frustrating and enjoyable games I have played in a long time. So good is this game tht this review only just got written (oops, sorry!). Despite the lack of passwords or save game options, I predict tht this will be one of those play, and play, and play again games.


Atomix logo

THALION/GRANDSLAM £19.99 * Joystick

Just because you are relatively new to the scene does not mean you have to produce something radical, does it? German new boys Thalion do not think so.

In fact, simple puzzle games seem to be making something of a comeback, what with Pipe Mania last month and Atomix this month. And like Pipe Mania, Atomix takes a couple of ideas from previous games and modifies them to suit. The game is made up of 30 levels and on each level the objective is to manipulate a set number of atoms into a molecule. For example, the first level sees you moving two hydrogen atoms onto an oxygen atom to make water.

Unfortunately, the atoms cannot just be plonked any old how - they have to fit together properly. The other problem is that once you have picked up an atom with the square cursor you cannot move it around as you wish. Push the joystick in a direction and the atom will move until it runs into either a wall or another atom.

Sounds like you could live with the problem? It is trickier than you would imagine. And as if that were not enough, there is also a murderous time limit to compete against. Fail to complete a level and it is game over - and there are no passwords to enable you to restart at the last level. There is, however, a second chance in the form of a trade-in where you can 'spend' 10,000 points in return for another stab at the last level.

As you would imagine, the chemicals to be built become more complex as you go on, the mazes become more awkward to manoeuvre around (often you are left with only one possible place in which to actually build the thing) and the time limit never gets easier.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

Everything looks fine and is well drawn and animated. It is not a stunner but then it was never designed to be. As for the sound: well the copy we reviewed had none although Thalion assured us just some gentle background music would be added. This will only enhance the game.

LASTING INTEREST

Even with 30 levels to play through, it is too easy to complete and once you have cracked a level it becomes routine every subsequent time you plat it, which is a tad annoying.

JUDGEMENT

Neat, simple, highly addictive and very playable. A great little game that fans of Xor and Pipe Mania will love. All it really needs is more levels, because once you get into it you will find it far too simple to complete.


Kernkraft für Tüftler!

Atomix logo

Rein "Programmiertechnisch" gesehen, ist Thalions neues Knobelspielchen nichts Besonderes: Keine spektakulären Sounds, keine aufwendigen Grafiken und auch keine verblüffenden Effekte. Und dennoch macht dieses Game total süchtig!

Die simple, aber geniale Spielidee kann begeisterte Tüftler wochenlang an den Monitor fesseln. Dabei geht es bei Atomic einfach nur darum, verschiedene Atome zu einem Molekül zusammenzusetzen. Insgesamt kann sich der wackere Hobby-Chemiker 30 verschiedene Moleküle basteln.

Dummerweise bewegen sich die Atome nur in bestimmten Bahnen: der Spieler ist dadurch gezwungen, recht knifflige Strategien auszuhecken - und das unter extremem Zeitdruck! Am Anfang ist alles noch ganz einfach, das Wassermolekül nachzubauen, ist wirklich keine große Kunst. Aber spätestens ab dem sechsten Molekül geraten auch ausgefuchste Strategen ins Grübeln!

Vor allem zu zweit macht dieses Grips-Game so richtig Laune: Beide Spieler versuchen sich dann abwechselnd an einem Molekül; einerseits müssen beide zusammenarbeiten, um in den nächsten Level zu gelangen, andererseits bekommt nur derjenige Spieler Punkte, der das letzte Atom ins Molekül einfügt. Und das führt zu erheblichen Komplikationen, das könnt Ihr mir glauben!

Wenn also Grafik, Sound und Präsentation auch zu wünschen übrig lassen, spielerisch ist Atomic ein absoluter Hochgenuß. Fans von "Tetris" oder "Pipe Mania" werden ihre helle Freude damit haben! (C. Borgmeier)


Atomix logo

THALION
PRICE: £19.99

One of the biggest breakthroughs in modern science was the discovery that all molecules are built up from combinations of atoms. But why sit through hours of boring physics lessons when you can find out all about this fascinating subject through Atomix, the game that puts 'fun' into science.

As a genetic engineer, it is your job to fit free atoms together to create different molecules. Atoms are pretty small things, so obviously you have to work in some pretty tight environments. Another problem with them is that they are basically free agents. Why can't tell them exactly where to go, only offer encouragement by putting them in a chosen direction in which they will continue to travel until they hit something, be it another atom or a wall. By sliding the atoms around and lining them up alongside each other using skill and logic, you have to piece together the pre-chosen molecule against the clock.

The gameplay is simple. The real difficulty comes from the planning. You can only tell the atoms which direction to slide in but not how far to travel. To stop them sliding to the other side of the wall you have to block their path with other atoms. Careful strategies are in order.

As the game progresses, it becomes incredibly difficult. The playing area slowly gets more and more cluttered with walls and obstacles, and the molecules get bigger. By the time you reach level four, you have to search the screen for a space where the molecule will fit, before you even consider putting it together.

As graphics go, Atomix has nothing to boast about. The sprites consist of nothing more than coloured circles and the screens do not alter that much. This does create a nice, tidy display though, and it works well.

It is very addictive and, through its simplicity, is very easy to get into. Not a must in everybody's collection, but definitely worth checking if you want to have fun damaging your brain. With 35 levels to play, it is certain to do that.


Atomix logo

Thalion (Grandslam)/Amiga, ST & PC £19.99/Out Now

Amiga review Apparently endorsed by Albert Einstein himself (his famous straggly hairy bits appear on the title screen), Atomix is rather like Lego for the nuclear physicist. You're presented with a maze around which atoms are scattered and you have to build the molecule shown at the corner of the screen within a certain time limit by moving them horizontally or vertically.

Things are hampered by the fact that when you move an atom, it continues until it hits an obstacle. This makes fine positioning a bit of a nightmare. It requires the same sort of mind as those little tile games where you were supposed to form the words GOAT, RULE, DIET and CAB within a square frame by sliding the bits around.

It's intriguing at first but a bit repetitive until you get the passwords to skip to the real humdingers from level ten onwards.


Atomix logo

Thalion, C64 £9.99, £14.99; Amiga £24.99

Atomix isn't only a puzzle game, it's an educational puzzle game with the aim of the game being to arrange scattered atoms so they form a molecule. The game has thirty levels, each consisting of a static playfield, the walls of which can both hinder and help you in your task. The shape of the molecule you must replicate is shown on the left of the screen, together with time remaining level and points scored. By using mouse or joystick you must move the scattered atoms so they form the molecule. Sounds simple, huh?

Unfortunately, once you start to move an atom - either horizontally or vertically - it won't stop until it hits a wall or another atom. The trick is find a place in the playfield where there's room to fit the whole molecule, and the walls are there to support it. You can also use other atoms to get the right shape. Once you complete the molecule the time limit is multiplied to provide bonus points. As you progress through the game the molecules get more and more complex.

If you fail to complete a molecule in time you get an opportunity to continue-play at the cost of a certain points deducted from your score. If your score isn't high enough then it's back to the beginning.

After every five levels there's a bonus round where flasks must be arranged in order, running from an empty flask to a full one.

There are also three skill levels, which simply reduce the number of time you're given per level, and a cooperative two-player mode. In this mode players take tuns, each having up to thirty seconds to make their move.


Stuart Wynne I saw an early version of this and thought it looked incredibly boring. Okay there's some good puzzle action but it looks very dull. Unfortunately, once you actually play the game it turns out to be completely addictive. The night after a hard day's play I was dreaming about how to move atoms around! As with Welltris and Klax, thinking about things helps, but most of the time you're acting on instinct just as much as in a normal arcade game. It's incredibly satisfying completing a molecule and impossible to leave the game until you've finished it. In fact it isn't that difficult to complete, Robin's done it already on 'easy' difficulty, but going for a high score provides some lasting challenge - and it really is great fun to play. If it were cheaper, or had sixty levels and more bonus levels this would be an essential buy. The C64 graphics could also be a bit better, but it's still great fun to play. Superb fun and well worth a look.
Warren Lapworth Zero marks to Thalion for originality: Atomix's roots begin in those sliding tile games (invented Lord knows how many decades ago) and were tweaked for Logotron's two Xor games and Entertainment International's Leonardo, which gave space to manoeuvre and perpetual motion to the concept. Thalion have tried to be scientific and indeed, although backgrounds are simple, formula components are neat and work well, and the buzzing noise they make as they're shifted is great. Personally, however, this type of game leaves me cold; I'd much rather blast a few ships or slay a few monsters than fiddle around with some silly old formulae. It's fine to while away an hour or so but I wouldn't pay good money for it.