Strangeloop

Producer: Virgin Games
Memory required: 48K
Retail price: £5.95
Language: machine code
Author: Charles Goodwin

Screenshot

As Christmas approaches, Virgin Games are on the warpath again, with a new batch of games (of which this is the first), new programmers and a totally new look in packaging. Gone are the broad stripes, in comes a game-specific cover and detailed instructions, very free of hype.

Strangeloop is certainly an auspicious start — a mammoth arcade adventure style game with 240 rooms to explore. Your mission is to regain control of a robot controlled space factory which has been taken over by aliens who are reprogramming the robots to destroy Earth. No maps of the factory exist, indeed no man has stepped foot inside for over 100 years. All you know is that the environment is desperately hostile, no oxygen, no gravity, very high temperatures and razor sharp industrial waste (swarf). The object is to reach the central control room, but this isn’t just a case of stumbling around until you find it. There are many obstacles to overcome, many objects which must be collected to help you on your way.

Your equipment is a space suit and a laser which fires straight ahead or diagonally upwards. The laser can carry a maximum of 99 charges, and these charge packs are one of the more vital objects that you could find lying around. Another is the jet cycle which has been left behind from a previous service of the factory. This is a bit old and thirsty on fuel, so keep an eye out for fuel cans. The swarf, being razor sharp, creates leaks in your suit, which releases your precious oxygen even faster than it should. But patches are something else that is to be discovered.

The screen display is split into two unequal halves, the larger, at the top, being the playing area representing one of the 240 rooms. These have a variety of industrial equipment in them, all robot controlled of course, various exits which are indicated as semicircles cut from the thick screen edge wall, and the razor-edged swarf flying about. Here, also, can be seen ‘you’, a large character in your space suit.

Below the playing area is the status panel. On the left is the suit status showing numbers of leaks and patches held. Then the laser status showing how many charges are held. In the centre is a pockets indicator. Here any useful objects picked up are shown and may also by used by selecting them with SPACE and the direction keys. Fuel level is indicated for the jet cycle if you are using it, your lives left and a compass which always points in the direction of the control room. Finally, there is 5 by 5 grid of the rooms immediately around you, with yours in the centre. This shows the exits in the 25 rooms. A magenta room indicates Megaswarf is present, one with the jet cycle symbol indicates the presence of the cycle, and a yellow one is the control room.

Each life starts with you in the teleport, a square which may be moved with the direction keys to the place where you want to materialise on the screen. Because of the size of Strangeloop, a SAVE and LOAD facility is provided.

Screenshot

On the conveyor surrounded by Swarf

CRITICISM

COMMENTS

Control keys: preset as cursors with 1 to fire horizontally, and 0 to fire diagonally, but all keys are user-definable, SPACE to activate
Joystick: almost any via UDK, but a twin-fire would be useful
Keyboard play: responsive — control takes getting used to (no gravity don’t forget)
Use of colour: excellent
Graphics: very good
Sound: good
Skill levels: 1
Lives: 6
General rating: an involved and involving game, with plenty of playability and challenge.

Use of computer86%
Graphics87%
Playability82%
Getting started89%
Addictive qualities85%
Value for money86%
Overall86%

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