Attack of the 50ft titles

Escape From The Planet Of The Robot Monsters logo Amiga Computing Excellence Award

OH DEAR. The evil Repitlons and their countless hordes of robot monsters are holding humans hostage. But this is not the limit of their tyrannical ambition. The captives are being used as slave labour to further add to the mechanical army of the Reptilons. Soon these fiends will attack and destroy all life on Earth, and when they have finished with David Attenborough they will start on the rest of us.

The citizens of Earth know full well they are being watched by eager, greedy eyes. To ensure their salvation they must destroy the synthetic Planet X, the base the Reptilons are using as a monster factory. Ha-ha, says mankind - that is easy. We will send not 100 ships, not 1,000 ships, but one ship. One hero alone will be enough to secure our future. The reasoning behind this is simple - critically flawed, but simple. Earth was going through another of those nostalgia phases were all those naff sci-fi films become cult viewing again and everyone reckoned they were all "fabby" and "corker". So they reckoned a single lone hero would do the job nicely.

Play takes place in one of three areas. The canal maze is just that. The hero is in control of a craft which he must pilot along the canals before the time limit runs out. The tricky bit is that some canals are just dead ends. Learn the routes in each of these sections - they are always the same.

The scrolling is nice - 45 degree Zaxxon style - but once you have learnt the route there is nothing much to this bit. It looks like an afterthought.

If the canal stage is completed within the time limit, which is quite tight, there is the option of choosing one of three ways to progress through the planet. There is no easy route, but different ones may suit different gamers, depending on their style of play.

And so on to the factory stage, which is where the action really starts. Swarms of synthetic swine compete in an orgy of mechanical mayhem to bounce on your bonce. In other words, they are all out to get you. It is not just the robots either. There are booby traps everywhere. Electrified floors, revolving doors, movey iny-outy spikey things and small black round things which I have not quite identified yet.

The robots themselves are fairly unpleaseant. Some are content to just trundle about and take pot shots, other feel it their duty to make the affair very personal and encroach on the hero's "space" - these dudes are serious. Some might actually be quite cute if they were not stuck on deadly intent. There is even one model which looks rather familiar in a forbidden planet sort of way. Will 60 gallons be sufficient sir?

Collect jewels to enhance your firepower, food to increase your health and bombs just in case. Blow up boxes and machinery for bonus points.

The 3D isometric levels are excellently detailed, but there is a distinct lack of scrolling - no bonus points awarded. Animation effects are not only excellent but extremely funny too.

A lot of care has obviously gone in to the design and execution of the graphics as a while - it all looks and "feels" right, but looks right in the same way as all the mad scientists' equipment did in the classics Forbidden Planet and Plan 9 from outer space.

The evil Reptilon stage is a different receptacle of aquatic creatures. Big lumbering monsters attempt to crush the life out of our hapless hero - hope you remembered to collect all those bombs, that is the one regret you will never forget.

On later levels a new monster will emerge from the ashes of the old and it is time to do battle again.

The game may appear easy to play at first, and the generous number of credits may aid progression to the later stages, but if the underlying strategy is simple to get to the next level then there is a point at which the hero is under-equipped for the job - a methodical approach pays hugh dividends.

As good a similartor we are ever likely to see to train would-be heroes for the possibility of an alien invasion. It is not just a game, it is a safeguard for our very existence.


Escape From The Planet Of The Robot Monsters logo

DOMARK/TENGEN £19.99 * Joystick

Planet X was doing fine, thank you very much, until the Reptilons arrived. This evil race are set on destroying Earth so they have captured professor Sarah Bellum and have enslaved all Planet X's inhabitants and are forcing them to build an army of robot zombies. You, Jake, and your buddy Duke are going to rescue the hostages and save Sarah (and the day).

Armed with a ray gun and a fistful of bombs you have to work through the planet destroying the robots and their equipment and rescuing the hostages as you go. The planet is made up of several sections, each section divided into three or four levels. Getting from one level to the next usually involves finding and switching on the escalator or climbing up the conveniently places ladders.

Rescuing the hostages is simple enough you just have to walk into them and they are then beamed aboard the orbiting shuttle (every shuttle load earns you some extra energy as well as points). Sometimes however the hostages are entombed in glass cases that hage to be de-activated before the hapless human can be saved. Fighting off the incoming enemy robots and Reptilons is a very different matter though.

On every section of every level you will find progress hindered by all manner of weird and wonderful robots that fire and bash into you causing a dramatic loss of energy and eventually life. Destroyign them involves blasting them with the ray gun. Some robots take more than one hit to be killed, but you can increase the power of the ray gun by picking up green crystals left behind when certain robots are killed. It is possible to regain energy by shooting open cabinets which sometimes contain food (sometimes extra bombs). Then there are the traps. Often a level will also contain traps like spikes that thrust out from the wall or floor tiles that electrocute, most of these can be passed with careful timing.

Clean out a level and you then have to jump into a small spaceship and negotiate your way through a bonus maze level before confronting an end of level guardian.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

The pumping music that plays throughout is great and so are the sound effects, even better though are the isometric 3D graphics. Everything is well drawn, well animated and there is a touch of humour in there too - just watch as your man clings on for dear life when you walk him accidentally off the side of a level. An excellent conversion.

LASTING INTEREST

In one player mode you get half a million credits - well a lot anyway - so it is easy to get well into the game. In two player mode you can get even further, so it may not take too long to complete it - especially if you can survive past the end of level guardians who can be really tough. You will have a lot of fun getting there though.

JUDGEMENT

It is entertaining, it is great fun, it is a great conversion and it is very playable. It does get repetitive after a while but play with a friend and you will have more than a couple of laughs. Certainly one of the more enjoyable coin-op conversions around at the moment.


Escape From The Planet Of The Robot Monsters logo

Im Dezember haben wir Euch den Automaten vorgestellt, jetzt ist es endlich soweit: Domarks Umsetzung von Tengens satirischer SF-Saga bricht über unsere "Freundin" herein. Und das so originalgetreu, dass wir unseren Augen kaum getraut haben!

Genau wie beim großen Bruder präsentiert uns Escape... auch am Amiga die Vorgeschichte in bester Comic-Manier bildchenweise: Die bösen Reptilons haben Planet X, einen synthetischen Industrie-Planetoiden überfallen und die ansässige (menschliche) Arbeitsmannschaft versklavt. Nicht nur, daß die armen Arbeiter nun gezwungen werden, an einer Roboter-Armee zur Vernichtung der Erde zu basteln, nein, die Finsterlingen wollen auch noch alle weibliche Gefangenen in willenlose Robot-Zombies verwandeln! Höchste Zeit für unsere Helden Jake und/oder Duke, zur Rettungsaktion aufzubrechen.

Die einzelnen Level bestehen aus übereinander liegenden, mehrere Screens großen Ebenen, die mit Rolltreppen verbunden sind. Hier wuselt nun eine schier unglaubliche Menge der verschiedensten Roboter durch die Gegend, die allesamt nach dem Skalp der Spielfigur trachten. Um sich seiner Haut zu erwehren, kann man Bomben werfen und in alle Himmelsrichtungen ballern, wobei man tunlichst darauf achten sollte, nicht die armen Sklaven umzupusten. Die sollte man lieber einfach überrennen, worauf sie in Sicherheit gebeamt werden und für Bonuspunkte bei der Abrechnung nach jeder Spielstufe sorgen.

Daneben gibt es noch allerlei Schränke und Computerterminals, die einerseits Extras wie mehr Feuerkraft bereithalten und andererseits die Rolltreppen in Bewegung setzten. Insgesamt warten 23 Level darauf leer geräumt zu werden, in zehn davon begegnet man den Reptilons persönlich, die eine ganze Menge mehr wegstecken können als ihre Blechkameraden. Dazwischen gibt es acht Bonussequenzen, wo der Held mittels eines Düsengleiters den Weg durch ein Labyrinth finden muß - unter Zeitdrück, versteht sich!

Massenweise animierte Sprites, die gelungene Pseudo-3D-Perspektive, die detaillierte und farbenfrohe Grafik, sowie die hektische Musikuntermalung machen Escape... zumindest anfänglich zu einem tollen Action-Vergnügen. Auch ist die Steuerung gegenüber dem Arcade-Vorbild längst nicht mehr so schwammig und ungenau. Ja, selbst die vielen optischen Gags des Automaten (Held baumelt an einer Schlucht, Held wird plattgewalzt, Held...) sind erhalten geblieben und sorgen für manchen Lacher. Aber trotz der irren Mischung aus Comic und B-Picture aus den 50er Jahren verliert das Game mit der Zeit unweigerlich an Reiz; es passiert auf Dauer einfach zu wenig Neues. Für Actionfreaks mit Sinn für skurrilen Humor ist der wahnwitzige Robot-Planet jedoch allemal ein Testspielchen wert - besonders wenn ein Partner für den Zwei-Spieler-Simultan-Modus bereitsteht. (ml)


Escape From The Planet Of The Robot Monsters logo CU Screen Star

DOMARK
£19.99

Imagine a more serious position. There you are, sipping at a pangalactic gargleblaster and lime in the synth-grav lounge of your nearest orbiting local when you're called back to the ranks of an interplanetary S.W.A.T. Team and mobilised against Planet X, an industrial planet producing only robots - where they've a host of hostages brainwashed into working on their production lines.

The mission is to blast through the thirty-odd levels, rescue the terrorised terrans and destroy the anarchic automatrons' chances of conquering the Earth.

Annihilating androids is one thing, but Jake and Duke, the two SWAT members under your control, find it all hungry work and so lockers must be blasted open to find food as they go.

Each level's captive humans must be liberated from their work stations or goldfish bowl prisons by blasting the control machine. To move on from location you must find the switch for the escalators and turn it on.

A bonus screen at the end of every level gives you the chance to replace lost energy. If you succeed, you can choose which route to take forward - if not the computer will choose the route.

Escape From The Planet Of The Robot Monsters is a "make no bones about it" shoot 'em up with the usual ingredients of a unlimited ammo zapper and a strong, well connected objective. What is unusual is how good it is. You can blast lockers and pick up bombs as you go whilst you fend off the marauding and malevolent metal monsters.

Converted from the Tengen arcade of the same name, EFTPOTRM has crisp, fast graphics, gameplay like the gearbox on a Ferrari and some superb graphic touches that mirror the care and time that was taken by Mark Pierce and Bonnie Smithson over the original arcade program.

Try walking off the edge of one of the levels and the character clings to the edge for grim death, walk into a wall and he'll shake his head while he recovers from the blow. It really is a superb game.


Escape From The Planet Of The Robot Monsters logo

Domark, C64 £9.99 cassette, £14.99 disk; Amiga £19.99

Most computer games have B-movie style plots anyway, so remember when you chortle over this tongue-in-cheek plot - it's intentional! Basically, the 'synthetic industrial planetoid' called 'X' has been invaded by the evil Reptilons. The human inhabitants have been enslaved (and the women forced to wear skimpy bikinis). The Reptilons want every one to build robots for the invasion of Earth, and refuseniks will be turned into Robo-Zombies!

Jake and Duke of the interplanetary SWAT team have been rocketed to planet X to rescue all the hostages, destroy the robots and find professor Sarah Bellum ('cos she looks incredibly in bikini!). Unfortunately the hostages have been more industrious than workers in a Japanese factory, churning out hundreds of robots to fight Jake and Duke!

There are so many, in fact, that Jake and Duke have decided not to rescue all hostages, but merely escape with as many as possible. The planetoid is divided into 32 sectors, including two blocks of three corridors of four sectors, which gives you some choice as to which route you follow through the planetoid. There are two basic types of sector, ones where you rescue hostages and ones where you take on a large (and blue!) Reptilon. Amiga owners have an additional section, where Jake and Duke must simultaneously fly through a maze inside a very strict time-limit.

In both the hostage-rescuing and Reptilon-killing stages, there's a shared view of the isometric 3-D landscape. If one player goes down a lift, he's in limbo until the other player goes with him. The basic idea is to run around shooting robots and rescuing the hostages by running into them! So far, so familiar, but there's plenty of fun touches in this Gauntlet-style game. Control systems need to be found to activate elevators (replaced by ladders on C64) and free hostages held in glass cages. Blasting open cabinets can give you food, bombs or even a force-field which makes you invulnerable. For a more powerful ray-gun you can collect green crystals deposited by destroyed robots. After every hostage screen those you've liberated are picked into shuttles to be flown home. Fore every shuttle filled you get an extra block of energy. You also have three lives, and nine share continue-play credits.


Phil King Escape isn't a classic but it's still playable all the same. The wacky plot helps create a fun atmosphere, backed up by cartoon graphics which are humorously animated (on both machines) - I love the way the heroes hang on for dear life after falling over the edge. The game's downfall is its repetitiveness - there's nowhere near enough variety to keep interest high. Believe it or not, even rescuing bikini-clad beauties gets boring after a while!
Scorelord If you ask me these Robot Monsters are pretty smart guys - if only I could turn my underlings into mindless, super-efficient Robo-zombies! But even in ironic 'B'-movie computer games you have to play the blockheaded goodies, here wrecking a perfect good slave labour factory. The shoot-'em-up action is hardly original, but the many humorous touches make it all worthwhile. Inevitably the C64 lacks quite a few of the coin-op elements, using lots of electrocution tiles to compensate, but it's still quite fast and playable. All in all, two fine conversions of a fun coin-op.