He digs deepest who deepest digs

Future Wars: Time Travellers logo Amiga Computing Excellence Award

WHAT is the secret identity of this superhero? Is it Ed, the high flying executive? No. Is it Armitage, the brilliant washbasin? No. Is it Joe, the mild mannered window cleaner? Could be.

Life as a window cleaner is not much fun. Tired of cleaning in the sunshine or staying home to watch the rain? So what are you going to do about it? Well, for a start you could do something about Ed, your fascist boss on secondment from the Waffen SS.

You just were not cut out for following orders. Stand up to him - or better still run away, get away, far away. But where to?

Without giving too much away, it is fairly obvious from the title that there is going to be some sort of time travel involved - plus some trouble perhaps at a lesser known publishing house - so mapping may involve donning the pointy ears and taking a correspondence course in non-euclidian geometry.

Thus you embark on a journey which will pit you against aliens, spear wielding guards, savage chickens, mechanical monsters, swamps and the inevitable mad monks who will beat you to death as soon as they pray for you. Better remember to take a packed lunch.

If you think Wimp adventure is one where you must find a cure for your acne or rescue your pet hamster from the top of the wardrobe, then check this out. All actions are performed with the mouse. Position the pointer anywhere in the play area, click the button and your character will move towards it. Not only that, but it does it intelligently, avoiding obstacles where it can. The mouse can also select options from a set of text gadgets for the manipulation of objects. For example, if you choose Examine you will get a roving crosshair which will identify any objects it passes over. Further information is given by pressing the left button. Be sure to examine everything very thoroughly - some objects are very small indeed. In a similar way you can take, use or operate any object on the screen or any of the objects in your inventory which pop up as text gadgets whenever relevant.

Graphically the game is wonderful, as you might expect from the same French programming team who brought you Bio Challenge. The play area varies in size, adding variety and creating some very nice effects, especially the screens which have been edges with silhouettes in the foreground. All that and animation too.

From a puzzle point of view, Future Wars is tough. A few of the objects are pixel-sized and microdot precision is needed to negotiate some of the obstacles you face. Speed is also a factor - one problem requires you to plot out your route well to advance if you are to deliver the goods on time, and even then you have only get about 50 per cent chance. If you have a death wish, you have a choice of around a couple of hundred ways to die, all of them quick but not always painless (Well, some of them brought tears to my eyes). With about 100 locations, a quick sum will tell you are in constant danger.

The abundance of routes to a swift demise and the policy of keeping the player in the dark not only breeds paranoia but also helps to keep the game alive as you progress through it, striking the happy balance between frustration and boredom. You honestly do not know what is going to happen next. Future Wars and the Cinematique adventure system may owe some of its design to earlier efforts such as the Sierra On-Line series - for example the character's movement directed by the mouse pointer - but it is several miles further along the path to icon driven adventure enlightenment. Nice one.

Future Wars: Time Travellers logo

PALACE £24.95 Mouse

As an everyday, common or garden window cleaner life sure is one big bore - one window after another after another - and when you are working on a skyscraper things are at their worst. What is needed is a splash of excitement in your life, to experience the thrill of the distant future, the pzazz of ancient history and to return safe and sound after 'saving the world'. Unfortunately, this voyage of wonder is not available from Thomas Cook, but from Delphine, via Palace, and their innovative system Cinematique.

The basic scenario for Time Travellers is this: in the 43th Century, the Earth is under attack from aliens. They cannot get past the Earth's SDI defences so they travel back in time to sabotage the defences before they are built. You discover all this accidentally after you have played a prank on your boss and you then travel through the different time zones of Medieval, Ancient History and Distant Future. Your learning and survival dictate the future.

In the graphics department, Future Wars is the tops, with some of the nicest scenes you are likely to see in an adventure game. But these are not always perfect, especially with some of the tiny 'graphically presented' items you are supposed to notice. Animation is quite smooth, which makes a pleasant change. In fact it is of high quality all round: awe inspiring at times.

The music is another good feature of Future Wars and has a distinct continental feel, which makes a nice change from the usual British and American electropop you find in most games. Add to this the good sound effects and you won't be turning the sound down, in case you miss a good grunt, growl or stomp.

It is an atmospheric game in places but there are times when you are not sucked into the game as much as you should be. Possibly it is the lack of text that sometimes fails to set the imagination on fire. Either way it is not much of a 'just one more go' game, and the slow save and load routine does not do much to help.

The puzzles are quite innovative in places although they are not incredibly brain straining. Usually a quick scan of your inventory will come up with the obvious solution to your problem. The actual puzzles are not the toughest part: it is trying to wield the mouse to solve them that causes the problems. Using the mouse might be expected to simplify thing but in Future Wars it often causes grief.

The game system, 'Cinematique', is claimed to be "the system of the 1990s" and it is extremely useful in places although it does tend to bog itself down in others. Action choices are pitifully few and the control is not as smooth as it could be: sometimes you can move just a little too far and the game is not tolerant of even the slightest mistake. The main problem however is the objects, or finding them. If your TV is even the slightest bit dodgy, then you may have trouble noticing certain items which are only a pixel or two large.

This potentially excellent game with a decent plot and stunning graphics is let down by the over-picky game system. Even so it is a good game and worthy of a close look. The system of the 1990s? It certainly has the potential and, with a little tweaking, could well be.

Future Wars: Time Travellers logo

Als erstes Cinematique-Game preisen Delphin Softwware ihr neues Zeitreise-Abenteuer an. "Cinematique" hat logisch etwas mit Kino zu tun und bedeutet, daß bei diesem Grafik-Adventure nichts mehr über die Tastatur eingegeben werden muß

Ganz so taufrisch, wie die Anleitung meint, ist diese Idee allerdings nicht - andere Hersteller, beispielsweise Ubi Soft, haben in die Vergangenheit schon einige Spiele dieser Art (mit Erfolg) herausgebracht. Aber egal, ob revolutionär oder nicht, die Steuerung ist auf alle Fälle angenehm einfach: Zur Interaktion ruft man mit der rechten Maustaste das Auswahlsmenü auf; die jeweilige Aktion wird dann mit der linken Taste aktiviert.

Leider gibt es nur ganze fünf davon: Examine, Take, Use, Operate und Speak. Ich finde das etwas dürftig, aber immerhin vereinfacht es die Suche nach dem richtigen Lösungsweg, da man nicht übermäßig viel auszuprobieren braucht.

Ein Druck auf beide Maustasten fördert das User-Menü zutage: Pause, Restart, Laden und Speichern sind möglich. Der Held des Geschehens wird selbstverständlich ebenfalls mit der Maus gesteuert.

Sobald der lauschige Titelsong verklungen ist, findest du dich als Fensterputzer auf der Arbeitsbühne vor einem riesigen Glashochhaus wieder. Der Boss scheint mit deinen Leistungen nicht besonders zufrieden zu sein, jedenfalls schnäuzt er dich durch ein geöffnetes Fenster ordentlich an. Gerade dabei muß dir auch noch der Wassereimer umfallen - Künstlerpech!

Nach dieser Standpauke verlierst du die Lust an dem Frustjob (verständlich) und gehst lieber auf Entdeckungsreise. Ja, und schon hist du der nichtsahnende Held einer Science Fiction Story aus dem 43 Jahrhundert:Klammheimlich haben Außerirdische damit begonnen, Mutter Erde anzugreifen! Zwar wurde eine undurchdringlicher Schutzschild um unseren Planeten errichtet, doch die Aliens sind auch nicht dumm - durch Sabotage gelang es ihnen, in die Vergangenheit vor der Entwicklung des Schilds zu reisen. Dort wollen sie jetzt an strategisch wichtigen Stellen Bomben installieren, um dann später in der Gegenwart durch eine Fernzündung den Schild außer Kraft zu setzen. Ein feingesponnener Plan!

Aber die Fremdlinge haben die Rechnung ohne unseren frustrierten Fensterputzer gemacht: Seine (deine) ungewollte Mission teleportiert ihn ins Mittelalter, in prähistorische Zeiten und in die entfernteste Zukunft. In jedem Screen gilt es, den richtigen Lösungsweg zu finden, um sich langsam aber sicher zur endgültigen Welterrettung vor zuarbeiten.

Die gestellten Aufgaben sind recht knifflig, aber nie unfair. Dazu bietet Future Wars (teilweise animierte) Grafiken, die sich wirklich sehen lassen können, und eine realistische Geräuschkulisse. Auf einen Kopierschutz wurde zur Freude aller Festplattenbesitzer verzichtet, dafür muß man zwei Grafikausschnitte mit Hilfe des Rasters in der (englischen) Anleitung ermitteln.

Fazit: Future Wars ist zwar keine Offenbarung, aber ein schönes Abenteuerspiel, mit dem auch Einsteiger auf Anhieb umgehen können. (wh)

Future Wars: Time Travellers logo CU Amiga Screen Star

Price: £24.99

When it comes to producing the fabled 'Interactive Movie', all credit has so far gone to Cinemaware. With sophisticated graphics and sound, titles such as Lords Of the Rising Sun and Defender Of The Crown wrote their own page in the annuls of software's history. Unfortunately everything with these games followed a set path with one or two 'movie' interludes. On the other hand, American software house Sierra have been beavering away on their own style of interactive movies, namely the Police Quest and Space Quest series. Though the graphics and sound were on the poor side, Sierra products featured animated sequences following on from player actions, spiced with humour and puzzle elements. Future Wars takes off from where Sierra apparently stopped. It is almost second generation in much the same vein.

You start off as a low window cleaner high up on the outside of a sky scraper. The introductory sequence shows him accidentally knocking his bucket over and taking a rollicking from his boss. Half-closing the window behind him the boss disappears back into the seclusion of his office, leaving you to ponder your next move.

All the in-game orders are issued through a menu of just five commands to move the main character. Quite basic, but all the objects and puzzles are designed around that method making the game smoother to play.

The problems you are faced range from tricky to obvious; just a small amount of lateral thought is required. For instance, the first real problem is how to stop your boss catching you outside his office. Simply take the bucket to the WC, fill it up at the sink and balance it on his half-open door. When he comes out the bucket crashes on his head and the computer quickly takes you to the safety of the next room.

There is a plot. The Earth has been under attack for many years now, but thanks to the SDI system she's held her own against the aliens. Two scientists discover that the aliens have gone back in time and landed in the year 1304. What this has to do with you is not made clear, so it leaves plenty of room for discovery.

Future Wars has some excellent animated sequences, gorgeous backdrops and a multitude of problems and characters to face. All backed up with sampled sound effects and the simple control method. A perfect game for the long winter months.

Future Wars: Time Travellers: CD

As well as producing software Delphine have a successful record label with Richard Clayderman as their principal artist. Not satisfied with writing and producing the soundtrack for the game, Jean Bauldlot also re-mastered and recorded them to CD. As luck might have it we have 6 of these ultra-limited edition CDs to give away. Just answer these simple questions.
What was Delphine's previous Amiga release?
In which French city is Delphine based?
Answers to: CD Compo, CU, Priority Court, 30-32 Farringdon Lane, London EC1R 3AU. Entries must be in by 4th January 1990.

Future Wars: Time Travellers logo Zero Hero

A man's gotta to what a man's gotta do, particularly when an anti-social load of aliens are threatening to wipe out the entire human race. David McCandless is, er... a man, and go straight down to it when he tried to save the world in Palace's latest arcade adventure Future Wars.

TAmiga reviewime travelling and the future seem to be in 'vogue' with computer games these days. In Future Wars, obnoxious aliens want to live on Earth. They don't mean to live in the quiet suburban way, inviting their human neighbours for a quick natter and a cup of tea. No - they mean to annihilate every homo sapien, burn every vestige of mankind from the surface of the planet and extinguish every... (We get the message. Ed).

Luckily, old Ronald 'The Robot' Reagan did have a use after all. His SDI system still exists in the future, and that's precisely what thwarts the aliens. So the extra-terrestrials take the obvious course of action - they go back in time and plant bombs at crucial points in the Earth's history, hoping to nip mankind in the 'bud' (as it were).

The game starts with you, a jolly window cleaner, merrily, er, cleaning windows on a massive metropolitan façade. Your boss pokes his grizzly head out of one window, and gives you a fair old blasting for no apparent reason. Slightly peeved by this, you decide to zip back and forth in time to become the sole saviour of the planet (as one does in these situations).

Mouse skills are essential when you want to move your character about the screen - clicking on the required destination makes happy go luck you wander across the screen. If any objects (like chairs, tables, dead bodies etc.) block the way then you simply have to click around the object and your man will follow the route.

The right-hand mouse button is the key to the interaction/adventure element. It activates a menu, which holds a variety of commands, allowing you to manipulate objects (Examine, Take, Inventory, Go to the toilet etc.). This is when your keen eye comes in. More often than not, important items like locked cupboards are hidden in out of the way places,

The Examine command allows you to, er, examine these things. If the object is important a 'blow-up' will appear in the corner of the screen for you to scrutinize in more detail. The Use command deals with things you have in your hand, whereas Operate is concerned with doors, handles, buttons and all those fiddly things. Speak is a bit a one-sided command, since it doesn't allow you to specify what's to be said. Instead your man just blurts out whatever he feels to be appropriate (usually an insult).

Characters wander in and out of the game. Most say things, either prompting you or talking around you (a quick 'eaves-drop' is probably in order here for gleaning extra information). Extra fun can be had in the arcade interludes, where quick reflexes play a hand. There's one sequence where you have to be incredibly swift indeed to type in a code - or pop your cork.

It's the graphics that make Future Wars brilliant, with an incredible amount of attention being paid to detail, colour and realism. For instance, most screens are brought to life with a small piece of animation (chimney smoke, birds in the distance, pecking hens). The different screens blend well, and each time zone is characterised by its own style, graphics and colours.

The problems and puzzles are hard, and I can see non-purists becoming easily frustrated with this game, where a few pixels can mean the difference between success or failure.

The look and gameplay of Future Wars owes a lot to the Sierra On-Line style of arcade adventures. But, where the Sierra games are simple and quite accessible, Future Wars is complex and hard to get into - but does have an atmosphere that's lacking in the other games.

I'd say curiosity is probably the main motivating force when playing this game - curiosity about the later screens, curiosity about the solutions to the problems and curiosity about what the objects do... Brilliant.

TITLE   Future Wars
PUBLISHER   Palace/Delphine
PRICE   £24.95
RELEASED   Out now
Future Wars: Time Travellers
Maybe a little too hard for beginners. Something for hardened arcade adventurers to bite into.


Future Wars: Time Travellers logo Zzap! Sizzler

Delphine Software/Palace, Amiga £24.99

When I first heard of this game, I thought to myself, 'what's the point of fighting with flowers? A bunch of fives yes, but a bunch of blooms?' I know people say things with them, but not necessarily in a violent way. Anyhow, once I'd shoved a cotton bud down my lughole and listened once again to Palace's Pete Stone (was I stone deaf?), I realised this new Cinematique creation was not, in fact, called Fuchsia Wars. Silly me.

Monsieur Paul Cuisset has been quietly working on this 'new type of computer game' for the past three years, a type that incorporates adventure-style within an animated game. A Cinematique game, for short.

Earth is really in the soup. She's under attack from the Crughons, a race of time-travelling aliens who want to conquer earth (goodness knows why). They plan to do this by sabotaging her mega SDI-type defences before they're built. The Crughons travel back in time and even as you read this are planting delayed-action bombs in important little places (we're talking cotton buds again!).

You're the reluctant hero whose task it is to save the world. Your day begins half way up a skyscraper as you aim to clean those windows like they've never been cleaned before - a bit of pain but it's clear you shine in this vocation, a glass above the rest really. Suddenly the boss appears from a window above and has a good ol' whinge at you about nothing in particular (why else do bosses exist?).

However, when he eventually runs out of breath and disappears back into the building you notice he's left the window open. You could go in! And after playing around outside on the scaffolding, and doing everything you can legally do with a bucket, you realise you have to go through the window to get further into the game.

Once inside, the nicely drawn full-screen graphics of the building shrinks down to display interior offices. This location is a good one in which to practise manipulating your character and objects. I don't think I'll be giving too much away by telling you there's a key under the carpet. Finding it is easy enough but picking it up is not. Pixel perfection cruises its ugly head on this occasion during clicking on your character has to be in exact the right spot to perform certain operations (such a picking up the aforementioned key). But accepting this idiocrasy is not difficult.

I must also mention the flag in the toilet (well who wouldn't?) 'cause it can cause problems. Get your man to open the toilet door and stand back while you lean as close to the screen as your eyes allow and scan the floor. Are you seeing tiny red spots before your eyes? Did the artist (Eric Chahi) see red for a moment and accidentally stick an odd pixel with the white ones on the floor? Has your little brother stuck his jammy fingers on the screen while you weren't looking? No! That minute, seemingly insignificant, red dot is in fact a very important map flag. It's also a primary lesson for the rest of the game: look carefully at every screen, move your cursor onto anything that looks interesting, odd or different and examine it. If you don't do this you'll miss something noteworthy and get nowhere fast. Fortunately, having to do this is by no means a chore as each location is very well drawn and there's usually plenty going on to entertain you while you search the screen.

Arcade sequences lurk within the game and leap out to test your mouse-clicking adroitness when you least expect it. One in particular, that occurs early on in the quest, pushed my button-pushing, mouse-manoeuvring prowess to its limit - which actually isn't very far, but then we can't have everything. If you've got an adept arcade player in the family I suggest you bribe them to help you get though this and other similar sequences or, if you're as naff at action games as I am, you may well have to bear the embarrassment of keyboard indents in your forehead.

Even though Future Wars is translated from the Francais there are only one or two minor text errors (the odd letter missed out for example). However, some other puzzles and their solutions are more worrying, a pair of automatic doors won't open for you because the attached camera has a dirty lens and it can't detect your presence, so what do you have to do? 'Use lance with video camera' (of course). This obscure command allows you to clean the lens so door may open. Also the 'Operate' command encompasses almost everything that 'Take' or 'Examine' doesn't. For example 'Operate Tree' shakes it, 'Operate rubble' sweeps it to one side to reveal... something, and so on. These niggly bits are incredibly minor compared to the amount of wonderful stuff in Future Wars, but if I gave the game nothing but praise, Pete Atone would be even more impossible to live with (not that we a cohabiting you understand... it's just a figure of speech, honest).

Cinematique is an excellent system. The proof is in Future Wars which is a joy to play: graphics and sound are brilliant, gameplay is compulsive (if a mite easy - even Mr Wynne got a little way into it), and it even incorporates a good quick save/ load facility and a useful pause for taking a well-earned rest during the action bits. It's mechanics are similar to Lucasfilm and Sierra On-line games such as Indiana Jones, Zak Mc Kracken and Gold Rush but on the whole it looks and sounds much more polished.

Future Wars may be a bit linear but the next release is claimed to be less so: personally I can't wait to get my grubbies on it. Meanwhile, be prepared to have a really good time defeating the Crughons.