Firstly, a brief amendment to last issue's review of
ESCAPE FROM DOOMWORLD. Unfortunately, there was a price mix-up and
it appears that this program is, in fact, a budget release. It
retails at £3.95 on cassette and £5.95 on disk. Can't think of a
better reason to rush out and buy it, can you?
64K cassette £7.95
64K disk £9.95
1 joystick/ keyboard
I received SPACE LOBSTERS as a pre-release but it should be
available by the time you read this. It's an arcade adventure set
inside the huge colony-ship, Colossus, which has been drifting in
space for eons as a result of the continuing war between Mankind and
the Space Lobsters. Captain Crumble - latest product of Red Rat's
active imagination - has the unenviable task of salvaging the ship
and returning it to Earth. Is there a fearsome Space Lobster on
board? Could be. What poor old Crumble doesn't realise is that it's
a female of the species now reaching the completion of her spawning
cycle. The corridors of the Colossus are swarming with hundreds of
Robo-Droids and newly-hatched Space Lobsters and, guess what? human
flesh is their favourite diet!!!
The screen layout is similar to those Mastertronic games such as Red
Max and Last V8, with the bottom two-thirds taken up by an expertly
designed control-panel, displaying all relevant information in a
clear and recognisable manner. Gameplay is therefore restricted to
the top third of the screen but, unlike some other games built along
this design, the restricted layout isn't a problem in SPACE
LOBSTERS. The screen scrolls in a left/right horizontal direction
(not strictly true as each new location replaces the previous one
when Crumble moves off-screen - there is no actual scrolling) as you
travel through the ship and there is no vertical movement to magnify
the limitations of the screen size.
The metallic walls of the ship are similar to the graphics used in
`BRASS' and countless other Atari magazine and disk demos, and is
really effective. The scenery changes colour as you move from one
corridor area to another.
The game characters are, of necessity, small but highly detailed and
most are in more than one colour, contradicting the idea that you
can only have single-colour PMG's on the Atari. Great animation too
and it's worth losing a life just to see Crumble sprout wings and
fly off into oblivion, or heaven depending on which is nearest!
Captain Crumble is equipped with a plasma-blaster to fend off all
the nasties but has only limited ammunition. Extra firepower is
obtained by logging on at one of the many computer terminals and
trading off score points for further supplies. Ten hidden codes are
waiting to be discovered at the terminals which ultimately give
Crumble access to the escape pod. I'm not quite sure how this ties
in with salvaging the ship, but that's hardly important.
Incidentally, when Crumble logs on at a computer terminal all
actions open to him are displayed on the control-panel. A simple
keypress activates your choice.
Teleporter Booths are waiting to transport Captain Crumble to other
corridor levels and, all told, there are 150 screens for him to
explore. It's heavy going though. On top of all the aliens streaming
in from both sides, Crumble has to duck periodically to avoid
Flying-Droids. A real menace these as he cannot duck and fire at the
same time and often gets suckered by an incoming Robo-Droid whilst
still in a ducking position. Four lives do not go far in this game!
Red Rat often include fancy hi-res title screens in their games but
these usually go unnoticed. This one won't. It's a riotous cartoon
style comic-strip of Crumble and his cast of aliens and is totally
amazing. That goes for the theme music too. Composed by Richard
Munns, it proves that Rob Hubbard is not the only musical genius in
Atari circles these days.
In the past, Red Rat have produced software of reasonably good
value. Now they have suddenly upped their quality level and Atari
owners everywhere are poised to reap the benefits. Good on you, Red
Rat SPACE LOBSTERS is a real beaut!