Universal Hero

Reviewed by Paul Rixon


Issue 30

Nov/Dec 87

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1 player
1 joystick







An arcade adventure with 'Dropzone' graphics and the challenging perplexities of 'Spellbound'. Could this be the ultimate budget release? No, but it certainly could have been if S.A. Riding had remembered to include some sound and Mastertronic had provided some sensible instructions.

From what I was able to ascertain from the (inadequate) information supplied on the cassette inlay, the plot is that an incapacitated space freighter is out of control and it's up to the Universal Hero, alias you, to find the parts necessary to mend it and thus save mankind. Trouble is, the freighter's on another planet and the only way to reach it is by shuttle. By some incredible coincidence the shuttle is also in disrepair so you've got to locate the bits to fix it before going any further. What's more there's a time limit before the freighter hits the planet and the Hero has a restricted amount of Oxygen. Phew!

Brilliant is a very apt description of the graphics. The Universal Hero is himself a superbly drawn little chap with space helmet and jet-pack, used for propulsion around a vast maze of caves and planetary landscape, which is very reminiscent of the 'Dropzone' graphics in design and colouring. 'Useful' artifacts are waiting to be found at some of the locations, and these may be taken, dropped or examined by means of a keyboard input. The Hero has a nine object carrying capacity and all articles he has obtained are displayed in a box above the main play area. Surprisingly there is absolutely no sound whatsoever during normal gameplay. A beep signifies when an object has been taken or dropped and a series of beeps are heard if you touch something you shouldn't. Other than that, it's golden silence throughout.

At this stage I ought to be telling you about the puzzles the Hero encounters on his travels, but I'm afraid I've got to admit that the game has me temporarily baffled. Despite obtaining eight objects and exploring all of the immediately accessible screens I have come to a complete standstill. There's a pile of rocks blocking one entrance, and I've got dynamite and a plunger, but how do I use them? Your help would be appreciated!! The instructions are completely abysmal. They don't even mention that starting the game requires pressing 'S' on the keyboard an inexcusable oversight.

All in all, UNIVERSAL HERO is a very good game that could have been truly unbeatable if a little more thought had gone into the finishing touches. It's a shame that Mastertronic have come so close to creating a classic and then blown it at the last minute. Maybe they'll do it next time?