Custodian logo

FEEL like blasting the living daylights out of a ravening horde or despicable aliens? Good, so do I. And there can be few games that provide more bangs per buck than Hewson's latest contribution to the shoot first and ask questions later variety. Custodian comes packed with a bigger range of weaponry than even Rambo would know what to do with.

The action takes place within a tomb of unspecified origin but distinctly Aztec in appearance, as is the opposition. Indeed, the main character bears more than a passing resemblance to Quxzopyatel, the Aztec god of alternative keyboards.

The tomb is infected with alien pods which are draining its energy. Rentokil has blown out. Now it is up to you. Your job is to protect the tomb by collecting the pods and destroying them in the annihilation chambers.

It has to be said that Custodian is not an easy game to get into. The action is fast and furious. The variety of aliens and bewildering array of weapons available to you mean that your first attempts are likely to be short and sweet. Having said that, at this price the last thing you want is a game that holds your interest for no more than five minutes. Custodian will keep you at it for a good deal longer than that.

The alien pods appear at random, in a quantity set by the current level of play, up to a maximum of 20. they can fire a heat-seeking sucker that drains your energy. Initially they are very weak, but they grow at intervals, becoming more powerful and absorbing the tomb energy in the process.

You start the game with a life energy. When this is drained you die. If the energy level of the tomb reaches zero, it shuts down, taking you with it.

You have 1,000 credits with which to buy weapons. Credits are won by killing aliens and by collecting pods. Destroying the pods replenishes your energy levels. Weapons are bought or sold in the ammunition silos that are scattered about the tomb.

The aliens attack in waves, using a variety of weapons and tactics. Various aliens are sensitive to different weapons and it is best to select your weapons with care if you want to survive longer.

The pods are located by using the pod pointer, which indicates the nearest one on the map. However, the indicator will only work while you are not carrying a pod. Collection of more than one is possible but must be done blind. While carrying a pod you can enter an annihilation chamber, regaining 1,024 energy points as you do so.

Once inside the chamber the pods appear; they can be destroyed by aiming and pressing fire. If the pods are left alone they gradually grow larger until they reach the final red stage and disappear back into the tomb in a weak form so that they have to be collected again.

Finally, when all the pods have been destroyed, you have to face the guardian of the tomb who is, as you may have guessed, not all friendly.

Custodian logo

Price: £19.99

Anyone who says that Hewson are trying to promote violence ought to get their wrists slapped. Who could say that a company which has made its name from making games that contain huge, colourful explosions and myriads of different weapons could be violent. Not I. (Shome strange logik here, Tone - Ed.).

You are the custodian of some tomb or another, and your mission is to protect the tomb from some attacking alien pods. To do this, you first have to seek out the pds, using your attack radar. Then you have to collect them and take them to the pod destruction chambers situated around the screens. Collect enough and you go onto the next, more maze-like area.

Each screen is quite large, at least a hundred screens in area, if not more. Dotted about are four things. The first are the armouries. It is here you can buy new and more powerful weapons. As with Cybernoid and Cybernoid 2, there are lots of different weapons, all of them limited. In Custodian, there are ten different forms of destruction to choose from, and the funny thing is, only tow of them are of any use. The other eight, consisting of things like vertical firing bullets and four-way plasma bombs, just don't seem to affect the enemy at all. The smart bomb, and a handy little mace-like homing bomb are the best two. To buy them, you have to use up credits. At the start of the game, you are blessed with 1000 points. As you kill the enemy, you earn more, allowing you to purchase more expensive items.

Second up are the teleports. These zap you to another teleport capsule somewhere else on the level. As with all types of transport, it costs money; in this case 100 credits. It's not all bad, though. It does give you some energy back.

The third things you find are the pod destruction chambers. Collect a pod by running over it, and then fly into these black holes. You are then presented with four laser cannons, all converging on one spot, controlled by a cursor. You have to blow away the pod that appears in the distance and rushes towards you. Let it get too near and it escapes, taking some of your energy with it.

The last, and probably the most annoying, thing you find, are the walls. These are here just to make life difficult. Some have holes in them for you to fly through, many don't. The higher the level, the more walls you're likely to encounter.

Graphics owe much in style to Cybernoid, although larger. The scrolling is smooth and fast - sometimes a bit too fast. All the usual explosions and things are there, of course, though because of the unplayability, you're not likely to see many.

The sound is all right, but nothing to tell your granny over dinner. There is a tune, but it is more annoying than entertaining, and thankfully, you can turn it off.

The main problem with this game, and this is the one I'm really going to chew over, is that it is too boring. Bouncing uncontrollably into things which are scrolling too fast for me to concentrate on - whilst trying to shoot aliens that are going to be off the screen before the bullet gets anywhere near them - is not my ideal of fun. Far from it.

A real let down from the masters of innovation. If this is the way that Hewson are now moving, then they soon won't be worth the laurels they're resting on.

Custodian logo

Hewson, Amiga £19.99

Overcrowding on planet Earth has become a serious problem. Space is at a premium, so instead of wasting ground for the burial of bodies huge tomb ships have been constructed in space. Unfortunately, alien forces have taken over the tombs and placed explosive pods throughout their interiors. Who's got to protect them? No prizes...

Gordon Houghton I always though that shoot 'em ups were supposed to be games were you fire lots and kill loads of things, not a game where you have to be careful with each round of ammunition and even when you are the aliens don't die. The only feelings that this game produced were of frustration and helplessness - so it's one of those: nice program, shame about the game. A pity.
Maff Evans The blurb for Custodian rates this as Hewson's 'most destructive game yet'. This is true to a certain extent, in that you get destroyed all the time - it's so annoyingly difficult! Sure the graphics are nice and the sound is well programmed but the game, the GAME! What happened to the game?! When playing a supposedly speedy shoot 'em up I expect to able to blast seven colours out of things, not watch as my weapons drift uselessly off the edge of the screen having inflicted no damage at all. Sorry, but Custodian is just a blot on the Hewson copybook.