Blow the mind

Interphase logo Amiga Computing Excellence Award

HONESTLY! I haven't heard of such a ridiculous plot since the first episode of Jamie and his Magic Torch. CD dream machines used to brainwash the youth of the wester world? Subliminal politics? They've been reading the Sport again.

Hmmm... does bear thinking about though. Next time you're on the train and the person opposite is playing a Walkman, ask them what their political affiliation is. I bet I know what they'll say. Absolutely nothing.

Back in plotsville, some terribly clever former employee has worked his way into the mind of the machine, seemingly by way of plugging his CD player in the wrong way round.
Having tricked his girlfriend into doing the dangerous bit of breaking into the head office and braving the killer robots, all he has to do is think his way around the central computer and deactivate circuits to ease her progress.

This would all seem a lot more plausible if it weren't for the fact that the digitised piccies at the start didn't look less like someone about to wrest technology's sword from the hands of the warlords and more like a bloke donning his helmet before getting on his Vespa. Anyway, I know the plot to Max Headroom when I see it.

Access to the realm of the Interphase is via a tunnel or datachannel or whatever the plotsters are likely to have called it. This involves flying Powerdrome style down a chequered tunnel avoiding a few obstacles and negotiating the hairpins.
Any collision will cost energy, of which you have precious little and which can only be regained by docking with the sparse generators inside the machine.

Once you have gained access you will find yourself inside the 3D world of the Dreamtrack CPU - welcome to the machine. Various analogues of real world hi-tech components litter the field of vision - big expensive things, things that go beep, Newton Cradles and uni-cycling frogs. I'm sure someone with honours in psychology can make something horrible out of that lot.

Unfortunately for those of you who think with their auto-fire switches, some of these components must remain in place to ensure the success of your mission. Bah!
You may also find that you can't destroy all of the objects with gunfire but need to use missiles, which are a bit more complicated. Mental missiles? Where will it all end?

The immediate threat to the dear sweet girlie is the squad of killer robots positioned at various points around the despotic Dreamtrack Corp HQ.>
Curiously these cannot be directly controlled from the main computer, and hence by you, but only influenced slightly by tampering with the security devices and sending them off in the wrong direction.

Blueprints of the levels are freely available when you get to each of the levels. These are vital for planning your strategy and for following the wench's progress. Information can be called up for any of the features marked and their position in your three-dimensional terrain can be determined using the navcom device.

Using a degree of cunning and a modicum of blast-crazy frantic death and disintegration, it isn't that hard to progress through successive levels of graphical excellence and effective, if not imaginative, sonic stimulation. The real threat to life is careless driving, or thinking, between levels.

Fast graphics and decent mouse control give a level of gameplay you can easily be enthusiastic over. Although the originality of the plot may be questioned, it has certainly been well implemented in an excellent piece of software.

Interphase logo

IMAGEWORKS £29.99 * Mouse

The future is, and always has been, an interesting place. It is not unreasonable to assume that in the not-too-distant future, the likes of you and me will find we have more time on our hands away from work: and it is not too unreasonable to assume that we will be spending our increased leisure time in what would now be considered bizarre and unusual ways.

Imagine a machine like a compact disc player, on which you play not music discs, but discs of the most fantastic dreams imaginable: where you can experience the smell, the sounds, the taste and the touch of any fantasy you like.

That is the foundation of Imageworks' latest 3D romp, in which you play the part of the recently fired dream-maker Chadd, and must guide your girlfriend through the DreamTrack Corporation High Security Building and retrieve the master recording of your last dream. Why? Well, not everything will change in the future, it seems. Corruption looks likely to still be around. Dreamers like Chadd are often showered with gifts from companies in the hope they will dream about them and encourage anyone playing the dreams to buy their products.

That is all pretty harmless, but recently Thought Adjustment Seminars were introduced where Dreamers were 'adjusted' to the 'correct' state of mind. And Chadd has just realised that the subconscious political brainwashing which really takes place at these seminars has turned his last dream into a potential lethal weapon, which could destabilise and undermine the minds of the youth of the Western World.

Using a home-made hacked modem lead, Chadd has linked up to the security computer and is preparing to guide his partner through the many levels of the building to retrieve the master disc stored on the top floor.

Interphase takes place in two parallel worlds: the real world of the building and the abstract world of the computer system controlling security. There are two main displays in the game: a 2D map for each floor of the building showing the position of the girl and any obstacles, such as doors; and a 3D representation of the world inside the computer, seen through Chadd's eyes. Progress is made by Chadd flying around the computer, altering anything that hinders the girl's progress.

The abstract world inside the computer is made up of several layers which you can pass between by flying through coloured tiles (the layers wrap round for each floor) and on each layer there are various structures representing doors, surveillance cameras and other things that are present in the real world of the building. Suppose the girl arrives at a door in the building that is locked. She will send a message to Chadd informing him, so that he can call up the map display, see where she is, and home in on her. Then he can follow direction arrows that will appear on his HUD whenever he's locked onto something, until he finds the door. He simply has to blast it to open it, and the girl continues on her merry way!

Obviously, the computer is trying to do a good job of keeping the building safe, so there are various security droids around that Chadd can do little about, except keep them away from the girl. Droids become activated when the girl passes in front of a camere that is on, ro when se passes over a pressure pad in the floor. As soon as a droid catches up with the girl it is game over time. It is also game over when all Chadd's energy runs out through crashing into too many structures or by taking too many hits fro the various craft inside the computer.

Fortunately, there are ways to top up energy, but it is never easy: especially when you have let reserves get perilously low! The easiest way to deal with the enemy craft is to find where they are coming from and destroy the base with a well-aimed missile: you are armed with missiles and a weaker front-firing gun when you are flying around. Get the girl to the top floor, retrieve the master disc and you have completed the game.


The graphics throughout are great. Everything moves quickly and smoothly and you are left with the impression that there really is a 3D world in there. The sound effects too are great. Overall this is the standard of graphics and sound we should be expecting from current Amiga games.


Interphase is complex and intriguing to start with. Once you have played a couple of times, though, you will have the hang of it and will be able to understand what is going on. Then it is a case of carefully planning the route and dealing with the hazards as you come across them. The levels get progressively harder so it is going to take you a while to complete and if you like games that require a little brain power, you will have a lot of fun along the way.

Interphase logo

Wurde ja auch Zeit, daß mal jemand ein Computerspiel macht, das aussieht wie die nächtlichen Alpträume eines durchgedrehten Mathe-Lehrers! Herausgekommen ist eine Mischung aus Shoot 'em up und Strategie, die vor allem durch die tolle Vektorgrafik im Stil von "Starglider 2", "Carrier Command" oder "Elite" besteht.

Interphase spielt in einer Zukunft, in der niemand mehr an TV, Video oder Kino interessiert ist. Zur Freizeitgestaltung schließt sich der Konsument von morgen direkt an "Dream Tracks" an, die andere Erlebniswelten perfekt simulieren. Chad ist einer der begabten Träumer, die solche Traum-Szenarios produzieren.

Zu seinem Entsetzen stellt er eines Tages fest, daß sein neuestes Werk so manipuliert wurde, daß es den Verstand seiner Benutzer zerstören kann. Ja, und was machen wir jetzt? Klar, das olle Ding finden und kaputthauen, ganz wie gewohnt, denn "das Schicksal sämtlicher mit Intelligenz begabten Wesen künftiger Generationen hängt allein von Ihnen ab", wie die Anleitung so schön sagt. Gut, wenn's denn sein muß, dann retten wir halt die paar Figuren - ist aber gar nicht so leicht, wie sich's anhört!

Chad hat sich das folgendermaßen gedacht: Seine Freundin Kaf-E erledigt die Dreckarbeit und schleicht sich zum Aufnahmestudio im 12. Stock der Dream Track Corporation, während er sein Hirn mit dem Computer der Corporation verbindet, um sie heile durch das Sicherheitssystem des Gebäudes zu schleusen. Vor jedem Stockwerk (Level) kann man sich dessen Grundriss ansehen und die günstigste Route für Kaf-E austüfteln.

Zu diesem Zweck darf auf der Blaupause des Gebäudes nach Herzenslust gezoomt werden, was dem Game einen chicen Hauch von High Tech gibt. Per Maus oder Tastatur (fast gleiche Steuerung wie "Star Glider 2") wird dann zur 3D-Vektorgrafik gewechselt, wo den Spieler eine abstrakte Landschaft mit herumschwirrenden geometrischen Objekten erwartet. Einige davon sind böse Roboter, die der armen Kaf-E an die Wäsche wollen, und deshalb mittels Bordkanone oder Rakete aus dem Weg geräumt werden müssen. Zur Orientierung während des Spiels dienen Kaf-E's Mitteilungen und ein Navigationscomputer.

Wie das erste Stockwerk zu knacken ist, wird in der (deutschen) Anleitung beschrieben, in den oberen Etagen nimmt der Schwierigkeitsgrad ständig zu. Interphase ist das Richtige für Tüftler, die auch ein bißchen Action haben wollen - mir wurd's nach einiger Zeit dann doch langweilig, grundsätzlich sieht nämlich jede Spielstufe ziemlich gleich aus. Dennoch: Das Scrolling ist sagenhaft schnell, und die Soundeffekte sind durchaus stimmig. Auch steht das Programm trotzt der komplexen Grafik komplett im Speicher.

An diesem Spiel werden sich noch viele Geister scheiden, er ist ein typischer Vertreter der Gattung "totale Begeisterung oder totale Ablehnung". Ein Probespielchen vor dem Kauf ist daher dringend anzuraten - dann muß jeder selbst entscheiden... (mm)

Interphase logo CU Amiga Screen Star

Price: £29.99

It is rare nowadays to find a piece of software that has not derived from a film or an arcade machine or for that fact plagiarised from another top selling title. In concept and design, Interphase can be claimed to be wholly original. The plot behind Interphase is pretty complicated. Set sometime in the future the ultimate form of home leisure entertainment has been created, the DreamTracks. Fully interactive dreams where the player can not only see and hear what is going on but smell, feel and taste the action around them. In order to produce a top selling DreamTrack the companies have to record them from particularly vivid dreamers. In order to produce a perfect dream to tape the companies make their Dreamers attend seminars where they are fed constant information until the subject of the seminar occurs in their dreams.

One such Dreamer was Chadd. He had just had a major DreamTrack recorded when he was sacked. It was nut until then that he realised the full potential of his dream, it could destabilise and undermine the minds of the youth of the western world. The only thing left for Chadd to do is to attempt to break in to the DreamTrack Corporation high security building and destroy the MasterTrack for his dream. The idea is for his girlfriend to enter the building while Chadd systems within the main computer.

It sounds like a recipe for a shoot 'em up and that is what it is, plus a strategy and arcade adventure. The game starts with Chadd gliding down a Powerdrome style tunnel following a strange bird, then the entrance to the level one computer appears. The first thing Chadd has to do is check the blueprints for the level and identify all the hazards his girlfriend must face. On level one the first step is to deactivate one of the two cameras in the main corridor. Take out the wrong one and the security droid will be activated too soon and catch Chadd's girlfriend; take out both and - beware - the robot will be left in the room she has to pass through.

The primary way of switching objects on and off or to open and close things is to destroy the switch inside the computer with a missile or your lasers. If the situation is such that something needs to be switched back again then you can use your tractor beam to carry a replacement part to the deactivated (denoted by a wire frame graphic) original. On later levels some components can be docked with and switched internally; these tend to be objects with more than an on/off function.

The goal for each level is for Chadd to guide his girlfriend safely to the lift and up to the next level. There are twelve levels in total with each one being broken up into several floors containing the relevant components. Unfortunately for Chadd the computer does not take kindly to having people blasting its circuits willy nilly, the resulting defence mechanisms manifest themselves as birds, helicopters and planes, none quite as nice as the overall favourite though, the unicycling frog. Most can be destroyed with Chadd's lasers but quickly reappear from the various generators around the landscape. Just as well Chadd brought along some guided missiles isn't it?

A huge, deeply absorbing interactive game which is a welcome relief. Interphase formally mainframe has been over a year in development, but it is well worth the wait.

Interphase logo

We sellotaped Duncan MacDonald and Sean Kelly onto an 'X particle', accelerated them to 97 per cent the speed of light, and shot them into the Dreamtrack Corporation's Security Computer to have a look at Interphase. It was a tricky process, (Sean bruised his little finger) but we'll go to any lengths for you lot!

Set in the not too distant future, the world of Interphase comes at a time when everyone has a lot of spare time on their hands, due to the total automation of most industries. As a result, the leisure industry has expanded beyond all recognition, and one particular form of entertainment has come to dominate: the science of Dream Recording and DreamTracks.

DreamtTracks (recorded patterns of imagination) which are produced by multi-national corporations but the 'Dreamers' are being subliminally brainwashed by the power classes who are peppering the DreamTracks with pro-government propaganda. Quite frankly, this isn't cricket. And one Dreamer swears to do something about it.

Chadd (the Dreamer in question) builds something called the Interphase, which sproings his mind inside the Security Computer - where he can basically bugger up the whole caboodle. It's a bit like a cross between Tron, Max Headroom, Joe 90 and Lassie Finds Yet Another Boy Stuck In A Dangerous Mineshaft.

Atari ST reviewDunc: Right. You have 12 floorplans (the different levels) to study and you have to allow your 'girlfriend' to pass from one end of each floor to the other without walking into any hazards. For instance, there are video cameras which, if they spot her, will relay the information to security droids who will then track her down and kill her. Turning a camera off, then, is a good idea, but to do it you have to go into the other bit of the game - the 3D world 'inside the computer'. You can summon up info on what the camera 'off-switch' looks like and fire up the navigation computer (which will show you the way to go) before you plunge into this weird world.

It's really like being inside a rather bizarre computer. All you need to know is that the animation is absolutely first class. Oh, and your 'ship' is controlled entirely by mouse, so get a ZERO mouse mat. (Out soon!) Once you've tracked down the camera switch, shoot it, and the camera is turned off. Time to go back to the map screen to plot your chick's assault further.

As you progress through the levels, you'll encounter all manner of hazards to interact with in the 3D environment: locked doors (er, you need to open them), turntables (they send guards off in directions of your choosing), pressure pads (you need to avoid them. Um, and sometimes you don't), electrified floor (frazzles the guards, unless your chick touches them first in which they frazzle her), workshop systems (where you can manufacture items you have accidentally blasted and then realised you need). And there's more, but this is a mission of discovery, so I won't spoil it for you. Basically it's a case of looking at the map, thinking "how on earth can I do that?" then sussing it out and going inside the computer to carry the plan out in shoot' em-up style.

So how does the mix of brain power and razor-sharp reactions match up? Is it a perfect blend or are you left wanting to jump out of your top window? Um, no actually. To my way of thinking it comes down too heavily on the cerebral with not enough thought to the zapping.

The shoot 'em up element isn't demanding enough to satisfy someone who wants to 'get things before they get him'. Maybe it gets a lot harder on the later levels, but the trickiness of the strategy element can bog down the most ardent shoot 'em-up fan until he (or she) just gives up. Maybe I haven't applied enough 'thought' to the problems at hand, but there you are - that's how I feel in IQ tests. On the other hand, the dedicated strategy buff might well find the 'arcade' sequences (regardless of the impressive graphics and sound) something of a bind.

However, there's a 'sub-set' of people with the IQ of Sire Clive Sinclair, the reflexes of Roadrunner and the patience of a lighthouse keeper, who will love this game. It's a blinkin' clever little idea and though difficult, it's implemented with sheer class.

Amiga reviewSean: Let's face it, the chances of getting the brain of a technical genius and the brain of a mega game designer squodged into the same skull are practically nil. So, when a game like this comes along, pushing back the graphics barriers in huge chunks, fun-wise they're generally as exciting as playing tiddlywinks with your auntie who died last year.

ImageWorks, doubtless aware of this problemette, got round it by getting one person to design it, and another person to work on the actual gameplay. Two brains, two specialists, and two skulls.

Well, almost. It's the fastest solid 3D ever but to be honest, this fact doesn't impress me too much. The graphics will be improved on eventually, or maybe within months, and excellent games have certainly been created without stretching limits, so barrier-breaking is no real indication of playability. The one way to judge any game is by comparing it to other currently available on the market.

Fortunately, Interphase manages to create a believable, imaginative 3D world, and pack in an addictive challenge to boot. You will be able to tell from the screenshots that Interphase has truly astounding graphics, but what you won;t be able to glean, is the smoothness and speed with which the screen updates - scrolling is too simple a word to describe what happens. This smoothness, which I would put on a par with some animated films, really does create the feeling of 'being there' more than any other computer game I've played. Basically, the graphics are superlative. In addition the sounds are very 'science fictiony', and again contribute greatly to the overall atmosphere of the game.

The actual game, once past the cyberpunk scenario, is a sort of strategic shoot 'em up. Each level begins with a thorough examination of the map, and a route must be planned ahead for the girlie if she's going to avoid getting fried on an electric pressure pad or mashed by some defence droid. Even the map section is impressively presented, an indication that attention has been paid to perfecting every aspect of the game. Needless to say, the shoot 'em up sections of each floor are brilliant, and you can either go straight for your objective as fast as possible, or stroll around taking pot shots at anything that strays within range. It's brilliant fun either way.

All is not sweetness and light, however. At the end of each level is a section which involves guiding your craft through a red and white stripey tunnel. Maybe I'm just crap at steering or something, but I found this to be pretty difficult. Even if I finished a level without loosing too much energy, I generally lost loads in the tunnel. Personally I think it was all rather distracting, as it seemed to be tacked onto the end of each level for the sake of it, and it added nothing to the game. Maybe that's just me, though.

I also wonder about the actual 'learning curve', and whether it gets too difficult too quickly, thus forcing some people to reach an impasse and give up. This said, I suppose some smart arse is bound to write in within about two days with the complete solution.

Still, chucking my personal gripes through the round window, I am certain that on one who buys Interphase can fail to be impressed by the mix of astounding graphics and addictive gameplay. It's a thoroughly fab game and I wouldn't hesitate recommending it to anybody.

Tomorrow's Cyberpunk computer games today!

Interphase logo Zzap! Sizzler

Imageworks Amiga £24.99

DreamTracks are the entertainment craze of the 21st century, storing memories of exciting events or fantasies and replaying them for consumers. DreamTracks recreate the exact sensations of events, the smell and even the taste of them as much as the sight and sound. But by their very success DreamTracks have led to abuse and corruption.

The Dreamsets whose memories and fantasies are stored on the Tracks are implanting subliminal messages to messages to make consumers buy certain products. More recently political messages which add up to virtual thought control are being hidden in the Tracks. One ex-Dreamer, Chadd, sets out to destroy a particularly dangerous Track stored in a High Security building. He asks his girlfriend to walk in and get the Track, while he infiltrates the computer to deactivate all the security systems.

The computer's programs are represented not by numbers, but by complex 3-D graphic icons. The windows, icons and pointers of the WIMP Amiga interface have been replaced by fast moving 3-D landscapes. The databanks of various systems are now represented by abstract shapes rather than names on a pull-down menu. Dock with one and you can access the data. And while you search through the interphase, security systems in the shape of attack fighters zoom after you.

The game starts with you entering the building through a tunnel-like datastream; touch the walls or the mini datastreams forming bars and you lose energy. You emerge in black space. Above and below you are coloured squares which you fly through to other levels.

Various weird graphics dot the landscape, while attack ships blast at you. Press the spacebar and you can use the mouse to click on one of the options on the control panel.

Your girlfriend sends you messages to tell you if she's in trouble. To start off with she's blocked by a door. After reading her message you can call up a Blueprint map of the floor she's on. Zoom in to find the door, then lock your navigation system on it. Exit from the map and arrows flash to show whether you have to go up, left or wherever. Eventually you find a green cube in a gray frame. This is the sub-program controlling the door. Shoot it and the door. Shoot it and the door opens. Your girlfriend walks through, is spotted by a TV camera and fried by a robot. Maybe you should have turned the TV camera off first!

If you should need to lock the opened door, you can go to a workshop to pick up a green cube. Put a tractor beam on it and, if you replace it in the grey frame, the camera is re-activated. Other security systems to work out include turntables (which change the direction the robots go), pressure pads, electrified floors, and lifts. To complete a level you must get the girl to the lift, the fly through the datastream tunnel to level two. (This is where you can save the game.)

Some of the levels take a lot of thinking to work out, other rely more on blasting fleets of enemy fighters. The game's flexibility is immense!

Phil King Initially it all seems completely bewildering, but persistence soon reveals the basic simplicity of the game structure. Level one can the be solved quite easily: 'Is that all there is?' I wondered. Level two is much more of a challenge though, the simple game ideas interlocking to make a good puzzle. On top of that, switching off cameras, turning turntables etc requires you to fly through lots and lots of enemy fire. The traditional shoot-'em-up skills of quick shooting and knowing when to recharge your energy are vital. Level three has a slightly different landscape, a starglider-like enemy ship, and more tough puzzles.
This is a classic game likely to keep you playing long after those coin-op conversions have lost their appeal. Don't miss it!
Robin Hogg I'm honestly surprised that this type of game hasn't been done before. The combination of sheer blasting action and brainbending puzzles doesn't clash awkwardly but merges together to make for one deceptively demanding game. The feeling of being within a computer system is wonderful, much better than the movie Tron, with a claustrophobic feeling of flight between layers of computer systems. The strange ,very surreal logic devices moving with amazing smoothness around the system, and the neat Blueprint of each level, make a truly fascinating game. The problem side of the game is akin to an adventure game and the arcade element is a considerable challenge in itself (not including the object manipulation side of it) and yet it doesn't fall between the two stools.
Haunting music or Starglider 2-style sound effects would have really made for a special game but otherwise Interphase is weird and wonderful.
Stuart Wynne Cyberpunk SF crosses Bladerunner with Tron, and this is perhaps the truest computer game version of it yet. The plot closely resembles the bit in the Max Headroom movie where Theora deactivates security systems for reporter Carter. But Interphase's real achievement is the flawless combination of a great plot, an excellent shoot-'em-up, and intriguing puzzles into one astounding game. The concept is just great. The graphics are superb, fast and imaginative (watch out for the toad on a unicycle on level two) although the sonics are limited to spot FX. This is one of the most exciting and original games I've seen in a long while, and I'll be playing it long into the night. I only hope work on Interphase 2 has begun!