K240 logo Amiga Computing Silver Award

Ever wanted to experience the benefits of space exploration and asteroid mining? Well, grab your pick and shovel and join Jonathan Maddock as he ventures forth into the final frontier.


Over the years we humans have slowly claimed planet Earth for ourselves. Pieces of land have been fought for and defended. The population is now increasing at an extreme dangerous rate and soon there won't be enough room left for the masses.

Where can the human race go from here? Up is one answer. Up into space where we will discover and colonise old and new planets. But what is someone is out there already? The answer is simple... we fight.
This whole scenario can be lived and played out in K240, Gremlin's sequel to their award winning and critically acclaimed "god" game, Utopia.


The Terran Empire governs a vast area of space. Over 1,000 worlds have been inhabited and are home to countless billions of humans, as well as a minor population of alien races discovered during the great expansion in the 23rd Century.

A large imperial company called Tetracorp started out in 2221 manufacturing scout ships and sensory equipment for the Imperial fleet. Its assets grew and it soon realised the potential of space exploration and mining.

It began developing new techniques for extracting and transporting rare ores mined in the depths of space,which were so successful that by the year 2280 it had grown to own and fill the entire industrial world of Barnard Five.

By the middle of the 24th century it had cornered the market in mining franchises. It offered packages to anyone with the ambition to take over one of the asteroid fields, known as fragmented sectors, being discovered every year on the frontier of the Empire.

In the year 2380, Sector K240 was made available for colonisation by Tetracorp. K240 is one of the fragmented sectors and occupies a cube of space 50 light years across. As a Tetracorp franchise holder, you have claimed a section of K240 and are ready to begin your mining operations in the asteroid fields.


How many goodly creatures are there here! How beateous mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people in't
The Tempest, William Shakespeare



There are thousands of Asteroid, composed of rock and iron, orbiting the Sun. Most lie in a belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and are thought to be fragments left over from the formation of the solar system.

About 100,000 may exist, but their total mass is only a few hundredths of the mass of the Moon. Asteroids of note include Ceres, the largest known asteroid )9,400km in diameter) and Vesta, which is the brightest as seen from Earth.

The first asteroid was discovered by the Italian astronomer Guiseppe Piazzi at the Palermo Observatory, Sicily, on new years day in 1801.



Trying to find a game to compare to K240 is quite hard. You could in effect call it a "god" game and compare it to Sim City, but that's not set in space. I suppose it would be stupid of me to compare it to its predecessor, Utopia, but the gameplay does differ slightly.

Utopia was reviewed way back in November 1991 and received a stupendous score of 93 per cent and a bright and shiny Gamer Gold award. The game is pitched in-between Populous and Sim City, fighting an opponent while you attempt to develop a viable city with all its attendant problems of taxation, population control and crime.

K240 is different in the sense that you have to build up a colony and simply destroy your opponent to win the game.



K240 is a fairly sparse in the sonics department. There are several bleeps and bloops occurring every so often to keep your ears active. The best sounds are the smatterings of female sampled speech, which are triggered when an event occurs.

The only moment where the sound goes into overdrive is when you fight against your alien opponent, and World War III explodes across your speakers. But as with the graphics, K240 doesn't really require unbelievable sound effects due to its nature - although a few more effects might not have gone amiss.




The type of game that K240 is doesn't really demand state-of-the-art graphics and to be honest it works a lot better with basic sprites and backgrounds.
There are two main screens which you flick between when playing. The first is the main asteroid view screen. When you begin the game you are presented with a 3D representation of your asteroid, showing rocky terrain and the sole building in your colony.

As you start to build your colony up, scaffolding will appear and eventually, depending on the size of what you're building, will turn into structures. These structures are all presented in a basic colour scheme, but any futurist would be proud of the actual shape of the construction.

Your colony looks rather pale and flat when compared to that of your alien opponents who tend to have much more extravagant constructions, but that's not really important when you're obsessed with completely destroying them in the first place.

The second view is the asteroid field screen which provides you with a map of all the asteroids. The map, at first, is predominantly grey. Somewhere on the screen will be your asteroid and around it will be a black circle. This circle is "known" space and as you progress and explore, the grey map will gradually turn black.




This is a damn fine space strategy game and a lot better than its predecessor, Utopia. The controls and buttons don't take long to learn and before you know it you're transported to a world of asteroids, mining, space battles and destruction.

OK, so it might not have spectacular graphics or sound, but it has it where it counts and that is in the gameplay and addiction departments. At first it all seems too easy, but after you've captured a couple of asteroids you'll need all your brainpower to cope with the forthcoming problems and events.

I'm finding it really hard to fault K240, but I suppose if you play enough it will eventually get a bit unvaried. This will take a long time to happen because the later aliens are incredibly tough and will demand a lot of experience to beat.

Gremlin's space strategy is a truly engrossing game that will keep you awake until the early hours and I heartily recommend it as this month's game to get your mitts on.

K240 logo

Visit off-world colonies, make your home on an asteroid, do battle with horrific alien entities, make money. Oh, t be back on Uncle Cyril's farm in Devon...

What's the name of that empire again? Oh yes, the Terran Empire. There are so many around these days that you simply lose track. Anyway, the Terran Empire is expanding so quickly that minor wars (just a pathetic 15 million dead) look set to bring the great dynasty to its knees.
And then (as luck would have it), a group of explorers that everyone had forgotten about, arrives home and tells of ore-rich hunks of rock in the next-door galaxy.

Obviously, every budding entrepreneur in the Empire grabs a shovel and a warp-capable space ship and clears off to go prospecting. But wait, it seems that these deserted-looking asteroids are actually home to an alien race. And they are not too happy about all these Terrans turning the old homestead asteroids into Swiss cheese.

K240 is a strategy-cum-god game in the mould of Millennium, Dune 2 and Mega-Lo-Mania. You are an independent prospector with a team of die-hard labourers. Your job is to mine lots of ore, expand as far through the belt as you can and to keep the poor old disenfranchised aliens at bay.

Mine, all mine
You start the game with a likely-looking asteroid from which you start building your commonwealth. The view which you will see the most is your asteroid in all its rather quaint and rocky glory.

The game is played via a series of pop-up menus which appear whenever you click your right mouse button. At the beginning you have to start mining - in order to bring in the credits necessary to build on other lumps of rock.

To this end you plonk a few mines down on the surface, followed by a storage facility, a solar generator and a sensor array (which is like a radar, detecting other likely-looking asteroids and any aliens in the neighbourhood).

To get anything done you have to allocate funds. Your pool of cash can be invested in construction, vehicles, intelligence or missiles. Obviously the more money you inject into an endeavour, the quicker everything will get done. However, just as you think everything is going swimmingly, along come the first problems. But this wouldn't be much of a game if everything was easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

Fuelling the problem
The initial challenge is going to be managing your base asteroid. You'll need plenty of generators to power all your installations. These cost money and take up valuable space on the rock. Then there's the threat of contamination. This can be dealt with by building a decontamination filter (surprise) which costs money and draws power.

Out in space they get up to all sorts of jiggery-pokery. For instance while you are not looking, the employees are likely to dip their collective fingers into the till and rob a few credits off you. The way around this is to build a security centre. From this building, men in shiny black uniforms will 'discipline' your loyal employees. But those same employees need good living conditions in which to procreate. So you will have to build nice living quarters. It just never ends.

Then there are those aliens whose world you've toddled into to plunder. Needless to say there are not too chuffed at your arrival and will do plenty to arrest your progress.

While you're not looking, the employees are likely to dip their collective fingers into the till and rob a few credits

Fleeting moments
The solution, of course, is to build yourself a fleet of ships to do battle with them. These fleets need commanding. Oh, and let's not forget the other asteroids which have a habit of colliding with your colonies. Dear me, it's a lot of grief.

All the problems which beset your colony are actually the really fun bit of K240. It's all very well having a laugh building things in space, but it's the crisis management which will make or break you. As in life, so in art, and it is always best to plan ahead.

The game is very well designed and I especially compliment Gremlin on the manual. This includes a tutorial which leads you through the basics of the game - so much more preferable to being dumped into the game with nothing but a list of key commands and a few illustrations of aliens.

Lots of time has been spent on making the gameplay fluid. After just an hour of play I was zipping between all the menus, allocating funds, building armadas and desperately trying to avoid all those other ram-raiding asteroids - a process which is helped by the kaleidoscopic graphics. I particularly enjoyed the Sci-Tek catalogue, an on-line database from which you can purchase blueprints to build really splendid gadgets.

The spooky atmosphere is helped greatly by the Amiga which warns you of threats but which doesn't give you much advice. The spy satellites are funky, too. Dispatch one to an enemy asteroid and it transmits pictures showing what the aliens are up to.

Giving you want you want
Recently programmers seem to have hit upon what it takes to hold a player's interest. You need more than a bit of parallax scrolling and a few stickers in the box - what's required is a decent learning curve which eases you gently into the game and a health dose of that mystical quality called 'playability'. The three games I mentioned earlier are all playable and are a lot of fun. K240 (despite its rather naff name) is up there with them.

Although I must say that I find the ethics of the game a bit dubious - why do we always have to blow seven shades of merde out of the poor blighters?
Anyway, I am running low on juice, money, living space, spaceship and patience, so back to the game. Can anyone lend me a few thousand credits and a seismic penetrator?

K240 logo

Was sich dem Namen nach anhört wie en neues Fleckenwasser, ist in Wahrheit Gremlins offizielle Fortsetzung des strategischen Astro-Simulation "Utopia". Diesmal lautet das Motto: Weniger kann mehr sein!

Beim Vorgänger und der Datadisk "The New Worlds" mußten ja noch ganze Planeten im Wettlauf mit einer aggressiven Alienrasse nach der "Sim City" Methode besiedelt werden - ein etwas unübersichtliches Unterfangen.

Also hat man der Mixtur aus Wirtschaftssimulation und SF-Strategical nun eine Schrumpftherapie verordnet, die ihr gut bekommen ist: Bei K 240 sind "nur" kleine Asteroiden in Echtzeit zu kolonisieren.

Durch umfangreiche Erzschürfungen soll dabei Geld erwirtschaftet werden, das umgehend in den Bau einer Raumschiffflotte zu investieren ist. Sie benötigt man nänlich zum Vernichten der ebenfalls im Siedlungsgewerbe tätigen Aliens, und zwar ehe sie dem Spieler zuvorkommen...

Insgesamt stehen hier sechs umfangreiche Szenarien mit underschiedlich starken Alienrassen zur Verfügung: Auf jeder extraterrestrischen Baustelle befindet sich anfangs lediglich das eigene Hauptquartier, damit's etwas gemütlicher wird, platziert man unter Zuhilfenahme der einblendbaren Iconleiste als erstes die Wohnsilos (samt Sauerstoff, Nahrungsmittel- und Wasserversorgung) in der isometrisch dargestellten Landschaft.

Die Arbeiter belohnen solchen Fleiß mit ihrer selbständigen Ansiedlung, wobei sich der Niederlassungsdrang durch Kontaminationsfilter, welche die tödliche Welt-allstrahlung abhalten, ein Sicherheitsbüro zum Scutz vor Meutereien und Diebstählen oder ein Krankenhaus für die medizinische Versorgung noch deutlich steigern läßt.

Im Interesse einer besseren Übersicht kann man den Asteroiden stufenlos um die eigene Achse drehen, zudem dürfen die bereits errichteten Gebäude per Tastendruck vorübergehend in farbige Vier-ecke verwandelt werden um gegen Asteroidenzusammenstöße gefeit zu sein, empfiehlt es sich, auch einen Gravitationsfeldgenerator oder gar einen Asteroidenmotor zu installieren.

Die für das ordnungsgemäße Funktionieren der Kolonie erforderliche Energie wird durch Solargeneratoren erwirtschaftet, anfallende Produktionsüberschüsse (von Wasser, Energie, Erzen...) können in Lagern unterschiedlicher Art und Größe gehortet werden.

Freilich sind für die Bautätigkeiten auch wahrhaft astronomische Summern erforderlich; um sie zusammenzukratzen, schürft man in Erzminen von zweierlei Größe nach den insgesamt zehn vorhandenen Metallen. Diese wiederum können zu schwankenden Marktpreisen bei der obersten Planetenbehörde namens Sci-Trek verschachert werden, darüber hinaus bilden sie ein unverzichtbaren Rohstoff für die Konstruktion einer Raumflotte.

Da die außerirdische Konkurrenz nicht schläft, darf auch die militärische Planung nicht vergessen werden: Raketentürme sind schon mal ein guter Schutz für die Kolonie, doch wer Angriff für die beste Verteidigung hält, errichtet besser auch eine Waffenschmiede, eine Satellitenfabrik sowie Raketensilos und vor allem eine Raumschiffwerft.

In letzterer Lassen sich vier Raumer Sorten von Spaltschiff bis zum Abfangsjäger bauen und mit diversen Raketen, Lasern und Minen bestücken. Mit den Satelliten sucht man die frisch entdeckten Asteroiden nach wertvollen Metallvorkommen ab, und der Zweck der mit unterschiedlicher Zerstörungskraft ausgestatteten Raketen liegt unter diesen kriegerischen Umständen wohl auf der Hand.

Seine Raumschiffe kann man zu maximal acht Flottenverbänden zusammenfassen, die die eigene(n) Kolonie(n) verteidigen oder ihrerseits die feindliche Basis attackieren, falls diese von den Spähschiffen bereits geortet wurde.

Der klugen Stratege wird natürlich versuchen, eine entdeckte Invasionsflotte schon auf halben Wege abzufangen, bevor sie die eigene Heimstatt erreicht und dort Schaden anrichtet. Bei einem Zusammenprall geht der Kampf in Echtzeit und völlig selbständig vonstatten, alle dabei demolierten Gebäude oder Schiffe sollten jedoch schnellstens repariert werden.

Wer noch höher hinaus will und z.B. besonders große Raumschiffe wie Zerstörer oder Transporter bauen möchte, muß dafür erst eine Orbitalstation installieren. Des weiteren ist es möglich, von der Sci-Tek-Behörde bis zu 34 Blaupausen zu erwerben, und damit allerlei technischen Schnickschnack vom Sensorfeld bis zum Teleporter zu konstruieren.

Weil der ganze Krempel aber früher oder später den Heimat-Asteroiden verstopft (dessen Erzvorräte ja auch irgendwann zur Neige gehen). Sollte rechtzeitig das umliegende Weltall mit Spionagesatelliten und Spähschiffen nach neuen Niederlassungsorten abgesucht werden. Sobald ein passender Kandidat gefunden ist, wird ein Transportschiff bemannt und zwecks Gründung einer weiteren Kolonie dorthin befordert - so kann man nach und nach beliebig viele Asteroiden besiedeln.

K 240 ist also um einiges komplexer und um vieles übersichtlicher als sein Vorgänger "Utopia", rein optisch sind dagegen kaum Verbesserungen festzustellen. Die errichtung der über 40 verschiedenen Gebäudetypen macht dank der prächtigen Maussteuerung ebensowenig Probleme wie die generelle Planung und Verteidigung seines Imperiums, allerdings ist ein intensives Studium des dicken Handbuchs samt integriertem Tutorial unabdingbar, um die Unmenge von Befehls- und Handlungsmöglichkeiten in den Griff zu bekommen.

Eine gewisse Einarbeitungszeit und die trotz netter Sphärenklänge und Digi-Sprache insgesamt ehr spröde Präsentation muß der Eroberer des Weltraums hier also schon in Kauf nehmen aber was tut man nicht alles für eine grundsolide gemachte und langfristig motivierende Stratego-Simulation? (md)

K240 logo

The Greeks and Romans did it to Europe and so did the Vandals. The British did it to the world. Now you can do it to the Magellenic Cloud. Apparently.

You know the song that the dwarves from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves sing when they're working: "You've got to dig di g dig dig dig dig dig dig DIG the whole day through"? Now if you substitute the word 'dig' for 'build' and think build, think build and think build again, you'll have obtained the correct frame of mind to play K240 properly. If you think that sounds boring, stay with me.

The game's set in an unexplored sector of space known as the Magellenic Cloud. The cloud is teeming with resource-rich, discoverable asteroids. Each asteroid consists of certain minerals and ores just asking to be mined. The statutory ubiquitous empire-in-the-background will buy any ore surplus to your building requirements.

Your mission Jim, should you choose to accept it, is to exploit, expand and exterminate - the three 'E's that prove 'E's are good, as I believe is the popular conception these days.

'Exterminate'? There also happen to be aliens out there. From now on I'll refer to them as Native Magellenicans. Now, these Native Magellenicans are the indigenous population of the sector. Somewhat understandably, they're going to try and stop you in your colonial expansionist plans.
So, as soon as you start laying your foul eggs of civilization, you're in a race against time; a race to preserve your should and destroy your enemy.

Just as with Sim City, you've got to build. Buld power plants to power the mines that mine the ore that let you build spaceships and missiles and as much offensive/defensive hardware as you can afford. Of course, as any expansionist dictator of grandiose all-conquering exploratory plans will tell you, in order to expand and grow you need infrastructure.

Game comparison number one time. Many of the elements in K240 resemble Sim City. Everything relies on everything else. As already mentioned, in order to mine you need to be able to sustain the life of your miners; protect and nourish, as fine a prover as you can get.

To do this, you need the four basics conducive to survival, namely: power, air, food and water. Each asteroid can initially support life for a limited amount of time. After that, depending on the state of production, you can choose to add extra Solar Generators, Hydroponics, Hydration Plants and air producing Life Support modules.

Assuming you've got the mix just about right, production will be in full swing. Unlike Sim City, you don't have to worry about connecting everything up by road and rail, that sort of magically gets taken care for you.

By this time, you'll have a load of ore stored in a storage facility somewhere. Every hundred days or so, a transport ship from the Empire arrives. IT always arrives at the asteroid with the most mined and stored ore. Sale of ore, surplus to your building requirements, is carried out with the Empire ship. Prices fluctuate, up and down, so sometimes it can be worth speculating about the price you'll be offered. That's the crux of the game - sell in order to buy things later on.

At first I resisted. It seemed too big and complex

I'll also give a quick mention to Sci-Tek blueprints; they're related to the arrival of the Empire transporter, i.e. if you purchase blueprints, they arrive with the next empire ship. Aside from standard armaments and production tools such as Hellfire Missiles and Napalm Orbs, Scout Ships and Assault Eagles, standard bore mines and deep broe mines, there's some really groovy equipment to be had.

The Sci-Tek button holds the snakey promise of forbidden fruit; forbidden by price, that is. Among the many tempting technically exotic hardware blueprints on display, check out the following; multi-headed drill bits to double the output of all your mines, construction droids to hep you construct twice as many ships as before, Fleet Battleships that let you disperse your enemy like chaff among human wheat etc etc. Oh, and as a final mention, what red blooded human from the other side of the Magellenic Cloud could resist the allure of the formidable sounding Seismic Penetrator? Not me.

Interface-wise, you can place icons where you want, which helps undeniably. Unfortunately, there are still some very annoying implementations that may drive you to distraction. For example, throughout the game, information screens pop up to inform you of something that's happened or going to happen.
Fair enough, it's an important part of the game.

Unfortunately, the programmers have opted to insist that you click on a little icon that looks like a 'return' key on a keyboard. This means that no matter what you were doing before, you have to move the pointer to the return button and click. No matter what you were doing or where on screen your pointer is.

There's no keyboard override. Now, it may sound like a petty point, but when you consider that you're just about always carrying out some function or other, it quickly becomes tedious and cumulatively time consuming.

Another annoying aspect is the control of singular spaceships. Unless they're in the hangar or moored in a spacedock, you have to click on them while they orbit one of your asteroids. It's no great test of skill, but it's tedious. No getting away from it; mighty tedious.

Despite the gripes, I can forgive the game. At first I resisted. It seemed too big and complex; the manual's over 100 pages long for Hara Krishna's sake. But no, the game pulls you in. There's a nice tutorial at the start of the manual that lets you access the building and mining part. You'll fart around for quite a bit, but the game itself starts teaching you what you should be doing; a progressive gameplay evolution if you like. Hang around too long not doing anything and the Native Magellenicans will take care of you.

Incidentally, did I mention that you have the option to choose from five different Native Magellenicans? No? Well, I just did, alright? Each is progressively more difficult and requires different tactics in opposition.

It's conclusion time now. I love this game. It's no great deviation form many of the god-sim-cum-strategy-wargames, but considering I've managed to resist those type of games so far, it seems to me an even grander testament to the playability of K240.

I honestly felt like crying the first time I thought I was doing really well. I had put together a couple of squadrons of spaceships and thought 'come on Native Magellenicans, make my day'. And you know something? They did attack. I witnessed a valiant defence by my home boys, the apples of my eye. But sadly it wasn't enough. The Magellenicans whacked the space fleet and proceeded to bomb my Jewel in the Crown asteroid to rubble. I was forced to look on impotently.

Rest assured I will have my revenge. I've booked two pages of tips for the next issue. It gives me an excuse to play K240 during office hours and that's definitely a good thing.


The easiest of the aliens to deal with, i.e. they're stupid.

This lot eat ore and render asteroids completey barren.

Agressive and very cunning.

Deneb Mira III. Greedy and selfish. A limited threat.

Rigellians: Ancient and advanced race. Hard to beat.

Swizarans: Probably the most dangerous aliens of all.

K240 logo CU Amiga Screen Star

Have Gremlin come up with the ultimate space strategy game? Or is it just a load of old rocks? Tony Dillon sticks a goldfish bowl on his head and starts humming some David Bowie.

If you sat down and spent some time with our exclusive playable demo on the March 94 issue of CU AMIGA, you'll already know what a great game K240 is, you haven't seen the half of it yet! K240, otherwise known as Utopia 2, is a massive game, and one that will keep you playing for months. But what am I doing telling you, to go out and buy it, I haven't even told you what it is yet!

Sector K240 is an uncharted asteroid belt out in deep space, where huge chunks of rock rich in ores move slowly through the cosmos. It's these ores that have attracted you to the belt, where you hope to colonise these mini planetoids, mine them for all they're worth and sell the lot for a whacking great pile of cash. Oh, life can be so carefree sometimes.

Except things are never that easy in real life. What? You weren't naive and egocentric enough to imagine the humans are the only race in the galaxy who would have a use for precious ores? Six completely separate races of alien are also interested in getting their hand in, and as usual, aren't prepared to sit down and discuss territorial rights.

Just the simple premise alone leaves you with quite a few tasks to uphold, namely: start and develop a mining colony, explore a massive region of space for asteroids and alien presence and win a war against the alien you eventually discover. It's a lot for one man to do, so you're going to have your work cut out.

You start the game with one asteroid, with only one building on it and a modest amount of cash. The first thing you have to do is get your mining colony up and running. For this you have to ensure you have enough in the way of housing and food for all the colonists who are going to live on your bit of rock, as well as making sure that radiation is kept to a safe level, there is enough power to keep all the buildings running, you have adequate medical and police operations running and, of course, that you have some mines actually collecting the ores. Once you have that out of the way, you can start looking at the rest of space.

Switching to a view of the entire belt, from the outset all you can see is a large grey screen with a black circle and a spinning asteroid in the middle of the circle. When I told you it was uncharted, I wasn't joking. The asteroid on screen is yours, and therefore the only one you know actually exists in the belt. The black circle is as far as your sensors reach, and any asteroids that might drift into that belt will be given a name and displayed. Somewhere out in that inky blackness is an alien, who is trying to do exactly the same thing as you, and all you need to do eventually is locate it.

Combat plays quite a major role in the game, and as a result you're going to spend quite a long time just building weapons and getting them ready for battle. There are various different ways you can attack the opposition, from just firing a few missiles at their asteroid to going in for a full strike with a fleet of heavily armed ships.

The sheer volume of aggressive weaponry in this game has to be seen - there are dozens of different ships, from small scout ships which go out and explore empty areas of space and record their findings to huge battlecruisers with tens of gun emplacements and everything in between. But ships take quite a long time to cover the vast tracts of the void, and a well aimed volley of missiles can sometimes do the job so much better.

Again, you have a massive choice of missiles, provided you have the funds and the raw materials to build them. There are everything from small explosives to napalm and nuclear warheads right up to my personal favourite, a vortex missile, which creates a bolt of lightning that wanders around the asteroid for a limited time wiping out everything it touches.

With all this going on, you would expect K240 to be very tricky to actually play. Your assumption couldn't be further from the truth.

A small series of icon banks, brought into being with the right mouse button, control everything in the game, and these are laid out in a logical way, and drawn in a way that makes them easily recognisable. In short, you don't really need to read the manual to get a lot from the game, just a little logical thinking.

For example, if it seems to you that you need to do some deep bore mining to really get to the good stuff in your asteroid, simply look for the build icon, which resembles a building being built, and then select the deep bore mine. Want to build a ship? Go to the spacecraft icon, and then select 'build'. What could be easier than that? To make life even easier, clicking and holding with the left mouse button on an icon 'extracts' it from the menu bank it's in, and places it out on the main display, making it much easier to find the next time you want to use it.

As I said right at the start, K240 is a huge game. There is a lot you won't get the first times you play it, and thanks to the unexpected events (see panel), the game will be constantly throwing new things at you for months. Play it for an hour, and you might as well kiss goodbye to half the year. A splendid sequel.


In sector K240, things never stop moving. The asteroids you colonise are constantly drifting, and if you buy an Asteroid Scanner, you can track the movements of these huge chunks of stone. Remember, the sector only has a finite amount of room, and these things do take up considerable space so it's quite easy for them to collide. Gravity Nullifiers placed on each asteroid will repel others, keeping them safe, but for complete luxury, you can't beat an asteroid engine, which lets you steer your home to a safer location. Isn't it amazing what they can think of?


A dreadful pun, I know, but a good way to introduce you to the concept of a growing game. When you begin, you have a full inventory of possible buildings and tools with which to create your little world. Thanks to Sci-Tek, a sort of interplanetary Argos, you can increase your range. It costs a fair bit of cash, of course, but if you can afford it you can buy better mines, shields for your buildings, asteroid engines, asteroid trackers and enhanced sensors. Plus a whole selection of gifts for him and her, golf clubs and amusing alarm clocks.


Space is a fairly large thing, and anything can happen. In this game, anything does happen, so just to make life a little harder; occasionally strange phenomenon will occur to completely knacker your game. A solar flare might occur, for example, which increases the radiation hitting your asteroids. Or a comet might come streaking through the sector, smashing craft and asteroids to smithereens. It isn't all bad, though. You might suddenly discover that the asteroid you had mined dry had suddenly shown to have even more ore on a lower stratum, or the federation might supply you with back up ships for no reason at all. You know what to expect...

GREMLIN £35.99


A brilliant strategy game