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Audiogenic £24.99 * Joystick

The shattering of suburban normality. The destruction of those middle-class values which form such a thin veneer of respectability. Cosy little sheltered lives torn apart.

Exterminator isn't about this at all. Basically it's situated in a cul-de-sac in a leafy Chicago suburb which has been overrun by a large number of insects. SOmething has to be done, so a van delivers a large hand to crush the little pests out of existence. Your job is to control that hand.

Rentokill
You enter the house and pause to glance at a floor plan of the building. You then move room to room killing the bugs which have taken up residence there. But it isn't as easy as that. You also must contend with toy tanks which, as often happens in Chicago suburbs, have come to life. These shoot tiny pellets around, which get in the way and confuse matters further.

Each room is cleared once you have changed the floor tiles in one 'lane' to a certain colour. It sounds complicated, but it is easy enough once you start playing. You change the tiles by killing moths, bugs or bees - whichever happen to be over those tiles at any specific time.

A wasp is also angrily buzzing around. If you accidentally crush him a great bolt of pain slams into your hand, then up your arm and out of the top of your head. Actually this is artistic licence, because you don't actually have arms (or a head).

Other items can help. Your powers can, if you're in the correct part of the screen, allow you to fire long distance marble-type things at the bugs. There is also a usable fly-spray to be collected.

Once you've cleared all the rooms in one house the van will deliver you to the next dwelling in the close.

The same task will face you there, and by now you'll need to be watching your juice meter, this runs down continually and contact with a wasp speeds it up.

Python-esque weirdness
Digitised sounds fill the air, and the moving floor tiles and whizzing moths, bees and hands create an action-packed effect. Apart from this effect there is very little. Each house is exactly the same and there aren't many different bugs.

Once the Python-esque acidic weirdness has worn off, you are left with a mediocre game that goes nowhere (except next door). And it's the same there as well.


SLICES OF A DIFFERENT LIFE

This coin-op conversion is all about a cul-de-sac of human-deserted houses, each filled with manic toy tanks, very strange looking bugs which are crushed, swatted and punded by disembodied hands in order for the squares of lino on the floors to change colour, which make patterns of lines that free the hands to go on to other rooms and houses in search of pests.

Tomatoes whizz around, Coke cans dash about in panic and blue marbles fly out in streams from the outstretched fingertips of the hand. A wasp is shooed away by circular movements of the hand, and small brown dodecahedrons are grasped to add extra juice to the hands of the Exterminator.

Remember kids, just say no to drugs.


Exterminator logo

Zwar schreiben wir erst März, aber der nächste Sommer kommt bestimmt - und mit ihn allerlei lästige Flug- und Krabbeltiere! Für den engagierten Umweltschützer ist die chemische Keule hier natürlich tabu, Handarbeit wäre gefragt...

Dankenswerterweise liefert uns Audiogenic dieser Tage einen hervorragenden Heimtrainer, mit dem sich die Bekämpfung der Insektenplage schonmal prima üben läßt: Der fröhliche Kammerjäger steuert eine Hand, die schlagen, fangen und schießen kann, um den kleinen Biestern den Garaus zu machen.

Aus der Luft müssen Fliegen, Motten oder Spinnen erwischt werden; unten rollen Konservendosen, Tomaten, Panzer und ähnliches heran, die es niederzuhämmern gilt.

Errungene Fortschritte lassen sich am schlachbrettartigen Fußboden ablesen, der nach und nach eingefarbt wird: Für jeden zerbröselten Gegner schiebt sich die darunterliegende Quadrat-Reihe weiter nach vorne, und das neu erscheinende Viereck ist blau. Hat man es geschafft, eine komplette Reihe "einzubläuen", ist der betreffende Raum gelöst, und ein weiteres Zimmer wartet schon.

Sobald der digitale Fliegentod ein Haus entvölkert hat, geht's ans nächste, insgesamt wollen acht Gebäude vom Ungeziefer befreit werden. Zwischendurch gibt's auc mal Bonusrunden, in denen z.B Ratten zu erschießen sind.

Natürlich hat das Programm einige Gemeinheiten parat, damit das Jägerleben nicht zu leicht wird: Wespen, von denen man gestochen werden kann, schießende Spraydosen und dergleichen mehr. Ein solche Begegnung der unangenehmen Art kostet Energie und irgendwann auch das Leben. Davon gibt's zwar insgesamt fünf, aber für die höheren Level ist das nun wirklich keine übermäßige üppige Ausstattung.

Das Game spielt sich tatsächlich so rasant, wie es sich hier anhört, echtes Chaos kommt dann in Zwei-Spieler-Modus auf! Während der Konkurrent versucht, die Fliesen zum "erröten" zu bringen, sind regelrechte Sabotageakte möglich, indem man auf der gegnerischen Seite des (nur quasi) gesplitteten Screens in Aktion tritt. Bei Erfolg darf sich der Kollege nun mit der falschen Fußbodenfarbe herumärgern...

Die grafische Präsentation ist den Programmierern ganz ordentlich gelungen, insbesondere die Animation sind sauber, schnell und so gut wie ruckelfrei. Und das, obwohl sich gelegentlich wahre Heerscharen von Sprites auf dem Schirm tummeln! Allerdings wirken die Hintergrundgrafiken der diversen Räume (Küche, Garage, etc.) auf Dauer doch etwas langweilig.

Gesteuert werden die "Killerhände" mit dem Stick, was an sich völlig problemlos vonstatten geht. Soundmäßig steht zwar nur wenig Abwechslung ins insektenverseuchte Haus, dafür passen die beiden Musikstücke aber wie maßgeschneidert, und die Special Effects klingen auch recht lustig. Wer sich also schon immer mal am Ungeziefer rächen wollte - Weidmanns Heil! (jn)


Exterminator logo CU Screen Star

This wasn't a job for any pest controller - it was a job for The Exterminator.
CU takes a look at the Amiga conversion of Gottlieb's coin-op.

One of the most original and visually stunning coin-ops of recent times, Gottlieb's excellent Exterminator, reaches the Amiga this month thanks to multi-talented development house, The Assembly Line. The game features an on-screen pair of hands which have to visit seven houses in a street, each with five rooms, and destroy all the rabid rats, spiders, killer bees, flies, toy tanks, and rampaging walnuts(!) that reside therein. This is done by crushing, shooting or stamping the bugs to death as they fly or skitter towards you. There are even killer tomatoes on the loose ready to slime you into submission.

The game starts with the local rat-catcher pulling up outside one of the houses in the infested street (which looks surprisingly like Brookside Close). Out of the van comes a giant hand which flies into the house - then it's straight into action.

As the game's essentially a shoot 'em up, it's fairly easy to get the hang of things - just kill everything in sight and you'll do fine! Each house contains five bug-infested rooms, such as a basement, kitchen, nursery, attic and living room. To make progress you must travel through each room destroying enough bugs to turn the white tiles on the floor blue. Each bug that's killed changes one tile directly below where the kill was made. Complete a line of tiles and the game moves on to the next room and so on.

As well as contending with tank fire, stinging bees and assorted other killer bugs, there's an annoying wasp which attaches itself to your hand and which will sting you if you don't shake it off. A juice bottle is also flying around and will zap you if it's not taken out. At the top of the screen is a juice meter - each time you're stung by the wasp, shot by the juice bottle, bit by an exploding mine or tanks missile you lose some juice. The juice meter can be tanked up by grabbing the mines before they explode, catching the juice bottle or crushing a roaming dodecahedron.

Throughout the game are special warp modes. These are hidden in various rooms. The first appears in the kitchen of the first house. A fridge door is open in the back of the room and if you can fire shots into the freezer while it remains open you can skip to the next house. It's a good idea to pause the game in each room and take a careful look round for anything that looks out of the ordinary.

There's also a bonus round in each house. The first two involve shooting rats in the basement as they run along shelving. It's quite difficult to actually shoot anything because it's hard to gauge where the bullets will land. This is a fairly annoying aspect of the game - it's really pot luck if you manage to snag a bug at all. Later bonus rounds involve crushing cans, nuts, rats and tomatoes as they roll towards you.

The game can be played by one or two players, each player controlling one hand. The two player option is best as you can compete with a friend to clear each room. At times the action is fairly frantic, especially when the dragonflies start dropping mines and the tanks pepper the air with bullets. After all seven houses have been turned into bug-free zones, there's the Ultimate Challenge. The action moves outdoors and the player's confronted with half-a-dozen waves of insects. Each wave is made up of 13 bugs and it takes some skill to defeat this lot.

The game's graphics are outstanding and mimic the coin-op effectively. Sonicwise, the in-game tune is a little repetitive and fairly annoying after you've been playing for a while. However, the sampled sound effects more than compensate and add to the overall feel of the game.
For 1mb owners there's the option of additional music for different sequences - for instance, a military tune plays whenever the tanks are on the attack.

All things considered, Exterminator is a cracking shoot 'em up which goes to prove that new games can be original.


ON LINE FOR SUCCESS

The original coin-op featured some innovative graphics, including a pair of digitised hands and some imaginative flying bugs, together with a palette of 32,000 colours to choose from. The 16-bit conversion has had to simplify matters, but to what degree? The pace of the arcade machine was fast and furious to say the least, with cluttered screens depicting tens of marauding ants and murderous killer bees intent on overwhelming the player.

Obviously, any conversion would have to try and emulate the quality graphics and animation while keeping the game speed at an acceptable level. Audiogenic passed the buck to the Assembly Line, responsible for hits such as Pipemania and E-Motion, and the team have pulled out all the stops to make the 16-bit conversions play like a dream.

A special team, Blue Turtle, were called in to handle the graphics and have managed to retain the flavour of the original coin-op as well as adding extra background details. As you can see from the screen shots printed here, the detail and clarity is amazing.

RAY CATCHERS

The rat population is booming and out of control. In some areas, rates the size of small cats have been sighted and the threat is spreading. That's not surprising when you consider that a single pair of rats can produce over 2,000 offspring a year.

With a 70% increase in the rat population in the last two years, many local authorities are ploughing funds into special rodent control teams in an effort to wipe out the menace once and for all. Rats are capable of spreading a number of virulent and extremely nasty diseases, ranging from cholera, fever and salmonella to Weil's disease which can cause jaundice and haemorrhaging in serious cases.

ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES

Quite what giant killer tomatoes are doing in Exterminator is anybody's guess. But it does give us an excuse to take a look at one of the worst moviews of all time. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes took the movie critics by storm back in the late 70s. 'Hopelessly insane', 'Preposterous', 'Awful' and 'I've never seen a movie theatre empty so quickly' were just some of the many accolades awarded to the film. This spoof-like movie roundly takes the mick out of the horror genre as man-eating tomatoes emerge from a garbage disposal to wreak havoc on the city of San Diego.

Thrill as large wobbly tomatoes squelch their way through the ghettoes and suberbs of the Californian city, squasching all-corners! Be amazed as monstrous, bloated ketchup refugees slime their victims to death in a cocktail of tomato juice! Yes, this one had it all. In a thrilling climax, the gaggle(?) of tomatoes are herded into the local footy stadium and squished underfoot by the city's brave citizens.

Unfortunately, this was not the last of the killer tomatoes, as a couple of years later someone had the original idea (and obvious good taste!) to film a sequel, the imaginatively titled, 'Return of the Killer Tomatoes'. This time Professor Gangrene has discovered how to turn tomatoes into perfect replicas of men and women out for revenge. I'll never be cruel to a batle of ketchup again.


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Audiogenic, C64 £10.99 cassette, £14.99 disk; Amiga £24.99

This obscure coin-op comes from Gottlieb, a company best known for their pinball machines. The plot is that all kinds of mayhem have broken out in a nondescript street in the suburbs of Chicago. Swarms of insects have mutated into ferociously lethal creatures, rats and frogs have turned vicious, while toy tanks have come to life! Clearly your average, everyday pest control isn't going to be able to cope so it's time to call in the EXTERMINATOR!

Who? Well he's certainly no wimp, all he needs to sort things out are his bare hands - and in this game you control one such disembodied hand. Houses are represented by a series of 3-D rooms where various baddies come buzzing, trundling, scurrying and leaping toward you. You can deal with them by slamming your fist down from a great height, shooting them by moving your hand to the side of the screen, or grabbing them in midair. Dodecahedrons and bombs can be caught for extra energy. On the other hand (agh! - Ed), wasps give a nasty sting when grabbed - they can be waved away rapidly by moving the joystick in a circular motion.

Simply totaling the creatures isn't enough; the Exterminator also has to clean the floor! On the first level, cans must be smashed open to turn a tile over to your colour. Create a vertical line and you complete a level. On later levels frogs with lethal tongues, shell-firing tanks and other such nasties put up more of a struggle than the cans. Once all the rooms in a house are cleared, it's onto to the next house. Clear all seven houses and there's an Ultimate Challenge with a huge bonus points prize!

To aid you in this task you might like to take along a companion. On the C64 players take turns, but on the Amiga it's simultaneous with players choosing either to cooperate or compete - each creates his own colour tiles.


Phil King Shooting and crushing creatures with my bare hands isn't normally my idea of fun, but Exterminator proves strangely playable once you get used to the rather awkward controls. The Amiga benefits greatly from its enjoyable two-player mode, though 'voluntary' cooperation often degenerates into an all-out conflict! On the C64, the game is more fiddly to play due to more precise collision detection for grabbing - possibly to make up for the lower number of creatures on-screen. At times, the persistent pests become very irritating. Thankfully then, levels can be skipped by using the warps (accessed by shooting the fridge door in the kitchen!).
Stuart Wynne Gottlieb are hardly Konami, but Exterminator can at least boast a fresh and original approach so often lacking from more mainstream coin-ops. A novel shoot-'em-up style, including grabbing, pounding and waving away insects works quite well once you've worked it all out. On top of this, building up lines is a neat idea - particularly on the Amiga where you can choose to cooperate or fight in two-player mode. The only real drawback is that going through your average household doesn't get your blood racing, particularly with no awesome end-of-level monsters to look forward to. It's fun and enjoyable enough, but over the longer term might prove a bit repetitive as the occasional bonus screens offer little new over the basic game. The C64 version suffers the further problems of no simultaneous two-player option and fiddly collision detection. The background graphics make great use of the machine though, so progressing to see new screens is quite rewarding.