Wreckers logo

AUDIOGENIC * £24.99 * Joystick, mouse, keyboard

Ever have trouble with your Plasmoids? You know, those nasty green squishy lumps? The ones that will eventually grow large enough to cover your entire body in a jello-like emerald slime.

The Plasmoids in question are, of course, the alien blend of slime creature from outer space. They eat space lighthouses, which is a bitch, because that's where you are! Awakened from cryogenic slumber, the warning system says that a swarm of Plasmoids are on their way. You have to shuffle about the place, getting ready for the attack, building and programming robots who will help you keep the station in one piece.

To the lighthouse
First the plasmoids lodge on the outside of the plexigalss space lighthouse and then ooze through. As soon as they touch, a self-destruct sequence is initiated and the only way to stop this 'sterilisation' is to kill them all. Using the twelve robots and your own laser blaster they have to be fought off, either outside in space, or hand-tohand inside using your trusty blaster.

As all hell breaks loose battle wise, you also have to make sure that the four beacons stay balanced (or they explode in a nuclear fashion), that the right droids are manufactured and that the current ones are fixed after a fight. Shooting with one hand and managing the space station with the other proves to be a hectic exercise as wave after wave of jelly monsters attack.

Wreckers has that Jetsons touch, with silly bubble craft, daft spacesuits and wobbly beasties. The graphics give this damage limitation scenario a comic bite. Reminiscent of Robot Monsters it plays better simply because there is far more to do.

The use of three different characters, each with different strengths and weaknesses gives the three life motif creditability, and means that early in the game vital strategic decisions have to be made. The strategy though, is that of the panic and the fun comes in the crazy chase about the space base hunting that last elusive Plasmoid, while the station desperately tries to go supernova!

Wreckers is a novel twist in the 3D isometric game world. The playing area is limited, but the variety of tasks and the pace adds originality. Wreckers is a hoot in the short term, but may lag in the long term, as once you've seen two waves of Plasmoids you've seen them all. They'll still raise the pulse a little though, and that's when the Wreckers are in full effect.

An original arcade-style game, Wreckers will confound and confuse, panic and please, which is all they really need.

The space beacons are powered by some particularly dodgy fuel cells. As the wreckers attack, the cells become unbalanced and if left to their own devices, the devices will explode. So as well as dashing about generally being a hero, you have to make sure that the cells stay balanced. The wave analysers should look like identical. If this ain't the case then you have to use the sliders in the centre to throw them back into synchronisation. This little technical juggling act comes at just the wrong time every time and adds a manic maintenance edge to the battle.

Wreckers logo

Interesting game design, but why spoil it with pointless cock-ups?

Programming team Denton Designs are one of the longest-lived crews currently working in the industry. They rose from the ashes of Imagine, one of the first major software houses, and have a string of acclaimed 8-bits behind them, including Gift From The Gods, Shadowfire, The Great Escape and Enigma Force, as well as When Time Stood Still, which marked their first foray into the world of 16-bit. That game was followed by the rather obscure Eco and Millennium's Eye Of Horus, but since then Denton have lain rather low.

Their return to the public eye is marked by Wreckers, an isometric-3D scrolling arcade adventure runaround type of thing set in a space station under attack from horrible green slimy monsters - an obvious relation to their similarity designed biggest hits like The Great Escape. It's nice to see that some things never change...

Denton have called in the experts for help with this game - Warren Cann from Ultravox provides the music and sound effects are in the hands of the well-known David Whittaker. It's a shame they didn't call on someone to do the animation while they were about it, as the characters move in that great glide-o-mation (TM) style that I thought we'd all seen the back of years ago (legs animated, but not bearing any relation to the character's actual movement). To be fair though, the graphics are otherwise good, with the glass-walled space station nicely-rendered and smoothly-scrolling. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

The idea of the game is to repel an attack on your space station by acid-secreting green meanies.
You do this by hoovering them up in a strange vacuum-cleaner attachment as tey approach the station, by floating around in a space suit and zapping them as they eat through the walls, or by shooting them from inside as they roam around the place and multiply.

You have three officers to do the job with, and you can enlist the help of up to ten programmable droids. As well as destroying the invaders, you also have to keep all the essential systems of the station running - if the aliens destroy any of those, the station will self-destruct and you'll be done fore. Plenty of stuff to do, then, but how much fun will you have doing it?

Not all that much, if my experience is anything to go by. Wreckers is a slick and stylish game, dragged into the mire of mediocrity by a whole slew of design flaws. Firstly, the diagonal controls are unnatural, uncomfortable and awkward on the joystick, and in the firefights with the bad guys you'll spend half your time running in completely the wrong direction.

Secondly, the game is badly balanced. Nothing very much happens for ages, then you're suddenly overwhelmed by dozens of green slimies in ten seconds flat.

Thirdly, it's all been over-complicated by the addition of lots of unnecessary little extra bits which detract from the game's sense of focus. (The droid-programming, for example, is largely pointless and unexciting, and requires you to put in a lot of effort for results that you don't actually get to see, and are therefore intangible).

Fourthly, there are several stupid and illogical game rules, the most aggravating of which is that when you go outside the station to zap some baddies, the game insists that you return through the same airlock you left from. It's incredibly annoying to be flying around, see a huge gang of space creeps inside the station right beside an airlock, and yet have to trek halfway round the station before you can get back in to go and blast them. There isn't really any sensible reason for this, and it smacks of bad planning, not to mention a lack of playtesting.

It's not all bad news for Wreckers though, as it does have a lot of atmosphere and a fair smattering of indisputably positive features. I particularly liked the way your officers are turned into strange zombie-like jelly monsters when they die, which then become particularly evil enemies, for instance. The action is fast and zappy throughout, and essentially there's a really good game in here. If only it wasn't buried beneath such a pointless mound of cock-ups.

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Wreckers is an isometric, fully scrolling shoot 'em up with the player controlling a trio of space cadets. The game's scenario tells of an important orbiting outpost, which is currently under attack from globular aliens. With the rest of the crew out of action, it is up to the player to repel the enemy invasion using whatever means you can find aboard the station.

The game opens with the invitation to select one of the three crew members, and the selected hero is then dropped into the play area. The station is a massive beast, comprising a series of lifts, shuttle stops, and murky corridors, and the heroes can be guided through this area using the joystick, whilst the fire-button either fires their lasers or, depending no their proximity to the relevant equipment, lets them utilise the ship's computers or assorted modes of transport. To allow toe player to get used to the controls, the actual Wreckers' invasion takes a while to build up, however, once the globular creatures start to swarm the action really hots up. Drifting in from space, the Wreckers enter the ship by attaching themselves to the station's walls and use osmosis to pass through the steel structure.

As the Wreckers attack, they must be located and shot before their menace can be finally ended. And the nice thing about the game is the wide variety of ways this ultimate end can be achieved. Awaiting your attentions outside the station is what appears to be a Hoover which can be used to suck up any nearby creatures, and the trio can also leave the safety of the station and take the battle to the oncoming Wreckers - oxygen supplies permitting, of course.

There's no doubting that Wreckers is a very polished game, and quite enjoyable, too. The trouble is that there doesn't seem to be any sense of urgency to the invaders' attack, and this seems odd seeing as you are the World's most important outpost. This is only a minor gripe, though, and for those of you who enjoy something a little more cerebral, Wreckers should fit the bill ideally.

Wreckers logo Zero Hero

Take the film Alien, cross it with the film 2001 and what do you get? Well, apart from a rather useless and not entirely accurate analogy, you sort of get Wreckers, the latest offering from Audiogenic. Duncan MacDonald elucidates.

Okay, no beating about the bush - this is an excellent game, so let's get straight into a ZERO précis. You're in charge of a space station - not that you do very much commanding as you spend most of your time in suspended animation. However, once a month you get 'defrosted' so you can make some routine checks and get a little bit of physical exercise. The only other time you're allowed to be defrosted is if the ship's emergency warning systems are activated by an alien attack. And guess what? That's where the game begins. Beacon 04523N (i.e. the ship) is under alien attack and somebody has to take control. Aaaargh! This is a job for David Icke, surely!

Nowhere to be seen, that's for sure. The purple-clad prophet is 'sitting pretty' back on Earth, counting the cash his book has brought in. So it's down to you. There ar three crew members on your ship, but although only one can be defrosted at a time you can change persona during the game by going to the 'character menu'. So who to use first? Well, there's Tweddell, Hambleton and Knight on offer.
Each has a different reason for being there, but suffice to say that they're all the same rank (Pilot Officer) and have the same security clearance (two).

When you get down to it, they're all a bit crap really. So who do you plump for? Tum te tum... er, let's go for Hambleton - after all, he's addicted to gambling and looks a bit like John Boy Walton. (A bit of professional 'decision making' obviously went on there. Ed.)

You're in the main game. You are John Boy Walton (i.e. Hambleton) and it's time to kick some ass. So what do you do? Where do you go? There don't seem to be many alien 'muthas' about at the moment. Just as well actually, because it gives us time to have a quick look at the ship's map and the main control opposite...

That's the ship then. What about the action? Well, it comes immediately (and randomly, so no two games play the same - or so it seems, anyhow). "Beep, beep" - your message window informs you that an alien wave is approaching.
Check your scanner and you'll find it's near Battlepod Three. By the time you've got down there (it's quite a long haul) a lot of the nasties are already inside the ship and are swarming about, mucking up all the electrics. Pop around corners and shoot them, then! Oh dear - outnumbered or what?

You could do with a droid or two to help. You have to make them first though, so a quick visit to the Droid Factory is in order. But now you're being told that Bulb Zero's in need of attention. And if you don't sort it out, critical mass will be attained and the ship will explore. So leave the aliens, leave all thoughts of droid making, and get back upstairs quickly!

Once you've reached the Bulb Room and logged onto the terminal it's logic time as you grapple with two 'slider bars' - one controls the sine and the other the cosine of an out-of-tune waveform. You have to tune it. Yaaargh! Now you're told there's another attack-wave coming in from sector one. Do this, do that, run here, run there, kill this, kill that - even go through the airlock into the vacuum outside to deal with more marauders! This space-station lark isn't all its cracked up to be.

Amiga reviewDunc: 'So much to do, so little time' is what Wreckers is all about. But I'm in the dilemma of 'so much to say, so little space'. Well, what can I say, other than it's really smart. Atmosphere with a capital A and action to match. Put it this way: here in the office we all get our faves - games we get hooked on for quite a while and play at the expense of all the others.
Well, Wreckers has just weaned me off Mindscape's 4-D Boxing. It's one of those games that keeps you so busy you don't even notice the clock ticking away, the evening drawing in and the fact that it's now half past three in the morning. It's incredibly difficult, so luckily there's a comprehensive Save option (to RAM or disk, including formatting for those 'oh no, I need a formatted disk and haven't got one' moments).

The only whinge I have is about one of the sub-games - the 'hoovering' bit, where you have to suck up the alien spores before they reach the ship. Like real hoovering, it's reather tedious - I'd rather have shot the spores with lasers. Mind you, there's no shortage of laser shooting once the spores you missed have made it inside. It's all very 'SAS'- darting into door-ways, letting rip with a couple of bursts and darting quickly out again. Yippee! Great graphics, great sound... great game. Like I said though, it's bloody, bloody, hard. Stop

Wreckers: Main map
  1. Battlepod Zero: Where you try to 'hoover up' the incoming aliens. Those you miss will get into the ship.
  2. Bulb Room Zero: Where you have to keep two oscilloscopes aligned (to stop the ship blowing up). A message will tell you if they're out of sync, so be alert!
  3. The Cryogenics Chamber: Where you frost and defrost John Boy and his chums. It's the start point and the place you run to when your character is dying (so you can re-freeze him and pick one of the others to carry on).
  4. Atmosphere Control: Wouldn't want the aliens to take control of the air supply, would you? You would?? Clot!
  5. Gravity Control: Your bloke's okay when this packs in 'cos all three crewmen wear velcro boots. The droids, however, are a different matter. No gravity and they float helplessly about - cannon fodder for the enemy.
  6. Recharge Unit: Where you send droids when their batteries are low.
  7. Bulb Room One: The same as Bulb Room Zero really, except it's miles away at the other end of the ship.
  8. Battlepod: Ditto Battlepod Zero - but again miles away.
  9. The Elevator: (You'll need to go downstairs quite a lot).
  1. A Store Room: Not worth worrying your cotton socks about.
  2. Bulb Room Two: Ditto the other two Bulb Rooms (but downstairs).
  3. Battlepod Two: Hoover time again... if you get there in time.
  4. Droid Factory: Very, very important - you need droids and this is where you make them. Then you can send them wherever you want to do your bidding. However, only having a security clearance rating of two, you're allowed access to just three underpowered droid types. But do well, get promoted, and you'll be allowed to produce bigger, better ones.
  5. The Generator: Rather important. We don't want alien scum taking over this room, do we? I should think not.
  6. Battlepod Three: Oh dear. It's a bit of a hike from Battlepod Zero to here. Let's hope it's never necessary.
  7. Bulb Room Three: Quite why they couldn't have designed the ship with all four Bulb Rooms next to each other is a mystery. Oh well, never mind.
  8. Another Store Room: Not a great deal of use, really.
  9. S., T., U. The 'Zippways': Much like the London Underground system, except that these ones work.
Wreckers: Main map
  1. The Message Window. From "Aliens approaching..." to "Droid seven retreating, Captain..." there's a load of text in the game (some of it amusing) and this is where it appears.
  2. You can have up to eight droids on the go at any one time. You select them from this bank.
  3. Click on the Long Range Scanner to find out which direction the next enemy wave is coming.
  4. The three bars show the state of (from left to right) the generator, the atmosphere and the gravity.
  1. This is your 'heartbeat'. If you find it's approaching flatliner status, head back (if you can) to Cryogenics and switch character (don't get anyone killed - I can't stress the importance of this enough. Er, I can actually: DON'T GET ANYONE KILLED!) There.
  2. A little point, but an important one. You have one hour to clean the ship of all alien life before it auto-destructs. This slowly rising red bar is your reminder.
  3. This is a blob.
  4. This is you.