The Doctor. Met. Beee. Exterminateeeed!

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ADMIRAL * £16.99 * 1 meg * Joystick * Out now

Steve Wright. In the afternoon is protected under copyright - nineteen ninetee twoo... LEAVE IIIT!!
Unles you tune in to Radio One between three and six on weekdays you could be forgiven for believing that the cheap but cheerful adversaries of Doctor Who had dropped off the face of the planet.

Call it sentimentally, call it a cheap way of filling air time, but all things Who-like are going through something of a comeback at the moment.
Re-runs of the old Doctor Who series are popping up not only on UK Gold, which will readily show any old pap, but also on the rather more credible terrestrial outlet, BBC2.

And now, to top it all, Admiral Software - little brother of education and budget specialists Alternative - are releasing for our delectation the game of the favourite foe, Dalek Attack.

I remember when I was about four or five years old and Jon Pertwee was our erstwhile do-gooder from the planet Gallefry. We got a coloured television around this time.
It took my mum about three weeks to peel me from the living room ceiling after I discovered for the first time that the monsters weren't all black and white after all. Potty training was set back months, I'm telling you.

Like all Doctor Who fans, I was enthralled y the scary and futuristic-looking Daleks (this was around 1974 remember), but even at this tender age was a little confused as to how these robotic wash tubs could navigate a terrain full of potholes and contours on wheels the size of ha'pennies. Despite their dodgy synthensized voices and point blank refusal to adhere to even the simplest laws of physics though, the Daleks were, and remain the favourite and most recognised of all the Doctor's adversaries.

Davros, the Dalek leader and part-time kebab shop proprietor, has wheeled himself out of retirement once again for yet more outer-planetary evil. Well actually it's more like inner-planetary evil, because he's attempting to destroy the earth's ozone layer with the help of his evil minions.

Somebody should have told him that the job's already been taken - most of the population are undertaking it ona voluntary part-time basis - but anyway, that's what he's doing, and he's happy, bless him.

As usual, it's up to the Doctor to foil this dastardly plan, doing what he does best, which is... er, just what does he do exactly, apart from run around forbidding landscapes with an assortment of hapless assistants, that is? Well anyway, let's just say the Doctor must foil his plans, and leave it at that.

Dalek Attack is a five-level multi-scrolling shoo-'em-up. Oops - no, stop right there - it isn't a shoot-'em-up at all, because if memory serves me correctly, Doctor Who is a pacifist.
It's a sonic screwdriver-'em-up, this implement being the trusty tool that the Doctor is never without. Having said that, one blast from his screwdriver and the baddies certainly look dead to me - maybe they're just mildly concussed and suffer no serious after effects. Oh who cares?

As I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself, the game is set over five levels - beginning in London, we travel through Paris, Tokyo and New York before finally arriving on Skaro, home planet of Davros.

Each level is very large, and the whole game is quite a challenge from the start. Nothing much new to report in the gameplay area - dispose of the nasties (a large proportion of which are obviously Daleks) in traditional fashion, picking up bonuses and other useful items as you go.

The Doctor himself is a very versatile chap - jumping from buildings, hanging off ledges and scaling walls - poor old Sylvester McCoy would turn in the grave his career was buried in it faced with challenges such as these.

Speaking of Sly, he's one of the three Doctors you can choose to be - the others being Tom Baker (complete with daft scarf) and Patrick Troughton. In two-player mode you even have a choice of which assistant you want to take, although thankfully Bonnie Langford isn't included. Good God - it'll be Lionel Blair as the Doctor next

There will be those who criticise the graphics for being flat. It's true that a few parallax backgrounds could only have enhanced the game, but I was more than impressed with the level of detail, and the realism of the city backdrops, particularly the part where the Doctor gets flattened by a New York yellow cab.

It's not often we mention price tags in a review, the idea being that a game either will or won't stand up on its own merits. Dalek Attack is an original twist on a tried and tested formula - at seventeen quid it's outstanding value for money, an absolute must for all Doctor Who fans.



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Alternative * £15.99

It was way back in 1963 that William Hartnell, the first Doctor Who, emerged from his police box Tardis, and a whole generation of impressionable young children spent much of their lives cowering behind the couch, peeking out now and again to see how the most famous Time Lord in the universe was faring in his battles against the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Yetis, the Autons, the Ice Warriors and various other intergalactical bad guys.

So it's strange, in many ways, that it has taken so long for The Doctor to find his way on to your Amiga screen in the form of Dalek Attack. The actions is set in the year 2254 when the Daleks and their evil creator Davros have taken over the world. Their evil plot is to turn the planet into a munitions factory to supply the Dalek armies.

The Doctor must thwart their terrible aims by running around a series of platforms, blasting various baddies and rescuing hostages. It's worth mentioning here that not all the enemies are Doctor Who originals but include Ninjas and others who have absolutely nothing to do with the TV series. Anyway, after a promising introduction level, Dalek Attack is a tad disappointing.

Although the graphics are well drawn and the music is of a reasonably suitable variety, the character animation is none too hot. Basically it's the gameplay that really lets down Dalek Attack. It would be better if it wasn't a shoot-em-up, and even better still if it wasn't so predictable - whenever you walk through a door there's inevitably a couple of Daleks waiting to exterminate you.

Actually there's an important aside here. Daleks roll around on wheels, they are incapable of jumping, so how the hell do they get up stairs. Obviously they can't. And if they can't how id they take over the Earth. Not much good just taking over the downstairs bit of the Earth, is it?

Anyway, this is only an average game, admittedly at a good price. But as anybody who has taken a serious interest in Time Lords will tell you, the essential point about Doctor Who is to outwit the enemy by skillful use of time travel, and sonic screwdrivers, and by having pretty women as assistants and cute mechanical dogs called K-9, so this would have been a better game if it was an adventure instead of a shoot-em-up.



Who is who?

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Bei Admiral Software hat man unlängst die schon arg angegraute BBC-Fernsehserie "Dr. Who" versoftet, damit auch die Kulturbanausen auf dem europäischen Festland was davon haben. Fragt sich nur was?

Wider Erwarten ging die TV-Konvertierung nicht einmal komplett in die Hose, stattdessen wird von der Story bis zur Steuerung konsequentes Mittelmaß durchgezogen: Der größenwahnsinnige Davros will die Menschheit unterjochen und zum Bau seiner klapprigen Kampfroboter zwingen, der lebensmüde Dr. Who stellt sich den Schergen des Bösen in den Weg...

Deshalb kämpft er sich mal auf einem Gleiter schwebend, mal per pedes durch horizontal scrollende Kanäle, Straßenzüge, U-Bahnschächte und Industrieanlagen im Endzeit-Design und ballert auf alles, was sich bewegt. Außerdem muß der Held in jedem der sechs Level ein gutes Dutzend Geiseln befreien, wobei ihm Granaten, Smart Bombs, Power-Ups, Extraleben und -energie sowie vier Continues den ohnehin nicht allzu schwierigen Job erleichtern.

Seine Gegner tauchen nur sporadisch auf, so daß die bei einigen Gebäuden mögliche Fassadenkletterei fast schon spannender ist als die eigentliche Baller-Aktion. Sobald sich ein zweiter Spieler ins Geschehen einklinkt, wird es sogar halbwegs spaßig, allerdings auch gleich noch mal eine Ecke einfacher.

Die Steuerung via Stick oder Tasten ist simpel und nur manchmal etwas hakelig. Ähnlich durchwachsen kommt die Präsentation daher: Die oft ein wenig ruckelig scrollende Hintergrundgrafik ist passabel gezeichnet, aber nicht übermäßig originell, die Animationen sind ganz gelungen. Musik und FX werden wahlweise angeboten und klingen recht nett, aber keineswegs aufregend.

Dasselbe gilt für das gesamte Spiel - knallhartes Mittelmaß eben. (pb)



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Oh dear. It's a Doctor Who game. Doctor Who is one of those programmes, like Blake's Seven, that seemed so great at the time, and you look back on with fondness and say things like, "of course it's not as good as it used to be, and I preferred Patrick Troughton/Jon Pertwee/Tom Baker as the Doctor" until you see an old re-run and realise it was always crap. Which is something it shares with this game.

The plot is standard Doctor Who fare, with some wibble about Daleks taking over the universe while Davros cackles manically in the background like the mad person you always manage to bump into on your way to the newsagents.

Somehow the Timelords get involved and the Doctor has to save the universe and everything.

Before you play the game you can choose your Doctor from an array of three. There's the one with the silly hat and the scarf, the one with the silly coat and stupid bow tie, and, er, somebody else dressed in incredibly ill-fitting clothes and looking like the last person on earth to be even remotely capable of saving the universe from a race of totally insane and heavily armed robots.

Then comes the shock when the game loads, because you're controlling our Doc on some sort of high-tech floating platform massacring everything in sight with a powerful laser and chucking grenades, smart bombs and all manner of death-dealing heavy weaponry at the enemy. This hardly captures the atmosphere of Doctor Who, and in my day he'd take the lot on with only a sonic screwdriver and a clapped out old car called Bessie.



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Currently found glued to his telly at 7:15 every Friday, Steve Merett enters Alternative's Tardis to join Patrick Throughton, Tom Baker and Sylvester McCoy in a battle to the death against the Daleks.

MORE THAN NOSTALGIA
Yes, I know that the sets are wobbly, and that the monsters are nearly always a failed rep actor in a wet-suit, but Doctor Who holds a certain magic for me - and before you ask, my complexion is clear, yes I AM interested in women, and, no, I do not possess an anorak. As a wee nipper, watching Jon Pertwee battle against Autons, Sontarans and Roger Delgado's Master was an essential part of my week. And, of course, there were the Daleks. If it wasn't for Terry Nation's gliding creations, Doctor Who probably wouldn't have made it past its initial twelve-week run.

However, in the second story in this fledging series, the Daleks glided up to menace William Hartnell and Co. And, in doing so, won themselves a place in the history books. It is ironic actually that in the 27 years Doctor Who was on our screens, only the Daleks broke the mould of the popular 'men in suits' idiom - although it was the easiness of copying them in the playground which started 'Dalekmania' in the 60s.

Whatever the reason for their success, even now in these days of Bart Simpson and the Toxic Crusaders, the Daleks still keep people glued to the telly - well, they would do it if the BBC saw sense and brought the programme back!

Obviously, for such a long-running programme, there is no shortage of Doctor Who merchandise, but whilst there have been a number of Who derivative games, only two 'official' titles have hit our screens - until now. The first was a tawdry Acornsoft BBC Micro effort, which starred Peter Davidson's Doctor as he worked his ways through a series of dire puzzles and simplified arcade sequences.

The second was 'The Mines Of Terror' by Micropower and starred Colin Baker's incarnation - although, rather sadly, licensing restriction meant that Micropower couldn't use popular characters such as the Daleks, K9 and Co. and the result was a dull little arcade/adventure involving the Doctor, a metallic cat, and a race of robots who trundled along on castors - sound familiar?

THIRD TIME LUCKY?
Thankfully, no such restrictions limit Alternative's latest attempt at a Who tie-in, but the game still falls short of expectations. Opening with a sampled Dalek tirade and a dodgy, warbling rendition of the programme's theme tune, Sylvester McCoy's face appears on screen to give us a wink before fading away to be replaced by the show's old diamond logo. So far so good then.

Next up, an option screen appears allowing the player to choose which Doctor out of Patrick Throughton, Tom Baker and Sylvester they wish to control. In addition, Ace and a UNIT Soldier offer themselves as a companion for later in the game, and K( also wags his little aerial at the prospect of joining in the fun - I must say, though, that I was disappointed that Jon Pertwee wasn't included, but never mind. On selecting your Time Lord, he duly legs it to the Tardis and dematerializes into the game.

Unrestricted by a meagre budget and guest appearances by people like Bonnie Langford and Ken Dodd, Alternative's binary vision of Doctor Who is a multinational affair with the Doctor battling against his oldest foes in Britain, Tokyo and the USA whilst simultaneously searching for parts of a machine which will enable him to put an end to their plans forever - however, despite such grand intentions, the game still looks as if the backdrops have been roughly assembled and would wobble if touched!

Actually, I'm being rather cruel here, but it has to be said that so much more could have been done with the game's graphics. The Doctor sprites are too small and, although recognisable, are far from impressive. In additions, although Alternative will please die-hard fans with the inclusion of Ogrons (apelike henchmen), Robomen (converted humans harking back to Hartnell's era), and Emperor and Special Weapons Daleks, the sprites just aren't imposing enough, and it's hard to be intimidated by a Dalek or Ogron which is little more than half an inch tall and is barely distinguishable from the similarly-coloured backdrops.

SEWER SO GOOD
Starting in a sewer setting, the Doctor pilots a Dalek anti-gravity disc which he must steer through the narrow drainage system - shooting anything which gets in his way as he goes. Yes, indeed, Alternative have broken the good Time Lord's life-long tradition of not killing things unnecessarily by arming him with a laser gun - although on later stages Alternative try and validate this by explaining that it isn't in fact a laser gun but a specially-modified Sonic Screwdriver. Hmmmmm.

Oh well, once out of the sewers and having defeated what appears to be a two-headed Loch Ness monster in a dull blasting match, the action switches to that of a conventional arcade/adventure with the good Doctor out-running the aforementioned Daleks, Ogrons and Robomen in search of the machine parts. This section proves extremely tough, and even with the extremely agile 793 year-old leaping from platform to platform, it often seems nigh-on impossible to avoid the pursuing baddies.

Providing our hero's energy holds out, though, he eventually gets to repeat the pattern throughout the said countries., before eventually heading towards Skaro - home of the Daleks and base of their evil leader, Davros.

I'm not sure if I was expecting way too much because I'm such an ardent fan of the programme, but Dalek Attack falls short on a number of counts. Admittedly, the game proves quite fun in the short-term, but prolonged play prompts irritation thanks to numerous 'no-win' situations, and I'm also disappointed by the platform action the programmers have opted for.

Bearing in mind that every story climaxed with the Doctor outwitting his foes, I feel that Dalek Attack would benefit from more puzzles in the action. Also, the general 'look' of the game wrecks the multi-national 'epic' scenario the game is given by making it look dull and lifeless.

It is by no means a complete loss and I'm sure that it's sub-twenty quid price win it a lot of fans, and Alternative are indeed to be commended for this price point, but even so I hope when Alternative have another tab at the licence - and I sincerely hope they do as they are on the right track - it regenerates into something better than this.


ROLL 'EM

Plans to bring the Doctor on to the big screen have been mooted since Tom Baker stepped into the long scarf of the Time Lord. However, since 1988 a comapny called Green Light (now called Coast To Coast) have held the rights to produce a Doctor Who film. Although publicity posters have been created and scripts knocked together, no other action has been taken and filming has yet to get started. In fact, the only definite news is that ex-Bond girl, Caroline Monroe, is lined up to play the Doctor's assistant. Although no real news has been given, rumours have been flying around for ages, with Dudley Moore, Rutger Hauer, Donald Sutherland and John Cleese all 'definitely' set to play the Doctor, whilst everything from the Daleks to every monster the series has spawned will be appearing, too. Personally, I'd bank on the TV programme returning first...

CLASSIC STUFF

It was just over 29 years ago that William Hartnell stepped out of the fog at his Trotter's Lane junk yard to introduce himself to two school teachers who had followed his 'grand-daughter' home. Since then, the mysterious Doctor has regenerated into Patrick Throughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davidson, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy in his travels across the universe. Along the way, he has also encountered more monsters than you could shake a stick at, ranging from the plastic-based Autons to the sub-aquatic Sea Devils, from the all-powerful Cybermen to the vegetarian nightmare Krynoids. In addition, the good Time Lord has also launched countless TV 'celebs' on their path to fame, too, with people like Jean Marsh, Leslie 'Dirtie Den' Grantham, Peter Purves and that woman who play Gail Tilsley on Corontation Street all making their debut as victims of evil oppressors in the series. But what of the future?

Unfortunately, the BBC don't want anything to do with the series and although several independent companies are begging to produce the show, Auntie Beeb is quite content to live on the cash generated by re-runs, videos, books and other merchandise based on the show. But with the show's 30th anniversary just around the corner, who knows what they've got planned...