REVIEWS COURTESY OF ZXSR

I, of the Mask
by Spaceman Ltd: Sandy White, Angela Sutherland, Paul Fik
Electric Dreams Software
1985
Crash Issue 23, December 1985   (1985-11-21)   page(s) 48,49

Sandy White, author of 3D Ant Attack and the follow-up Zombie Zombie has now produced his third game for Rod Cousens, who is publishing it under the new Electric Dreams label.

The game revolves around the tortuous Newgama III space trials. Equipped with an A4A Pack Jet Suit, you are cast into a massive maze containing 32 universes. To escape you need to construct a robot from active robot spares lying around within the universes which may be accessed from nodes in the maze.

There are enough parts within the maze to create at least one robot, but before a robot part can be added to your collection it must be deactivated. The parts also have to be located and deactivated in a specific order, starting from the feet upwards. Upon collecting the final component, the mask, the greatest award is bestowed: you become Of The Mask.

The top half of the screen is taken up with the view of the maze and includes a little effigy of your good self on the lower part. The bottom of the screen contains various status indicators and keeps track of the robot you are assembling, with parts being added as you collect them.

The corridors of the maze are displayed in one colour, each wall being shaded with a different pattern depending on the angle of the wall to your view. As you move through the maze, the perspective changes, together with the shading. When you turn a corner, instead of just flipping ninety degrees into the next corridor, the corner and walls move around smoothly.

The maze is split into different sections or zones, each having a colour allocated to it. In the corridors the colour of the walls matches the colour of the zone you're in, and flashing areas shown on the map also have flashing walls when you move through them. On the bottom right hand comer of the screen is a small window showing your position upon the overall map, with your direction and position marked by a small arrow. As you move about the arrow stays central and the window scrolls over the larger maze map. Pausing the game is quite helpful. since the full map of the maze is displayed.

Along the various corridors are handily positioned node points: these are gateways to the robot parts and other sections of maze. Upon entering a node section the view flips to three giant crystals which rotate about the screen and you are given ammunition for your laser - the number of shots you have remaining is shown on a little counter in the status area.

When you fire on a crystal, it beams you to another place. The top crystal transports you to a different node with a different set of three crystals, while the bottom right crystal takes you to a section of the maze. (These crystal gates are shown on the main map of the maze by flashing areas). The bottom left crystal will transport your man into the parts store in the universe behind the three crystals.

Once in a universe you are twisted and rotated around the robot part it contains and must blast it three times in the time you are allowed. Do this, and the component is deactivated. Bonus power is awarded whenever you deactivate a part, but the component is not added to your robot unless it is the next part in the sequence.

Throughout the game a digital power counter decrements - if you don't visit a node, enter a universe and deactivate a robot part before your energy runs out, it's time to start another game. You start with three lives, however, and if energy's getting desperately low you can enter a universe, deactivate a part and gain the bonus energy. If the part is not in the correct sequence, then you keep the energy but lose a life.

COMMENTS
Control keys: 0 to fire, H to pause and view the main map, direction keys according to joystick option selected
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2, Protek/Cursor
Keyboard play: unusual arrangement (see above), very responsive
Use of colour: monochromatic, avoiding attribute problems
Graphics: Sandy White ... excellent
Sound: adequate, but not outstanding
Skill levels: one
Screens: corridors linking 32 universes


'This highly original program got many a gasp when it was loaded up in the office. If you merely look at the graphics objectively they're not that hot, but once you get into playing the game it's possible to get totally lost within the illusion. I of the Mask is technically very cunning, and there's a fair bit of strategy to back it all up in the gameplay. There's quite a challenge in assembling a robot. Deactivating the activated robot components was probably the strongest section. A major portion of the game depends on mapping out the vast maze area - not really my scene, though I can see the appeal for other users.'

'The game employs some of the most remarkable graphics I've come across on a Spectrum. Some of the perspective shots are brilliant. Sandy White's obviously learned a lot since 3D Ant Attack. The game contains far more than meets the eye and in fact at first, I wasn't aware that half of the game actually existed! The extremely vague instructions didn't help - giving no clues about how to use lives for instance - which was quite annoying. As it turns out, I of the Mask is a deceptively subtle game. It's an attractive game too, and will doubtlessly appeal to many. Evidently, Sandy White is far ahead of his time.'

'About two years ago Sandy White released a game called 3D Ant Attack which, at the time, was very impressive. His latest game continues the 3D theme but his techniques have advanced a bit from 1983. I of the Mask is graphically superb and a delight to watch. Essentially I of the Mask is a maze/strategy game with a few differences. While being very playable I suspect that once I completed it I wouldn't go back to it again. With that said, it's not going to be a game that can be finished quickly. I of the Mask represents a step forward in 3D graphics. Overall, it is a very impressive game and if you like maze games, there's no excuse for not buying it.'

Use Of Computer91%
Graphics96%
Playability92%
Getting Started89%
Addictive Qualities88%
Value For Money87%
Overall92%
Summary: General Rating: technically excellent, backed with a fair bit of strategic gameplay.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 01, January 1986   page(s) 33

Seb Coe's got nothing on our hero as he hurdles around a labyrinth of psychedelic corridors in breathless pursuit of bits of a dismembered robot's cadaver.

No, it's not a space-age Frankenstein travesty, but an above average maze game, embellished with stunning 3D graphics.

A megalomaniac robot has been dismembered by world rulers to curb its yearning for universal power. As the hero of the peace, your aim is to flee the maze and become I, Of The Mask, by collecting the robot bits and reassembling this hapless heap of metal.

Battling against a remorseless clock, you must head for the three crystals blocking the entrance to each of the maze's 32 universes. But, once you find the crystals, there's no time off for good behaviour. Using the laser on the front of your jet-suit, you must zap the crystal to activate it.

But don't panic and fritter away your ammo on any old crystal, 'cos each has its own function.

One will beam you to another part of the maze, one will transport you to the entrance of a nearby universe and the other will reveal a robot part, which must be zapped three times to render it harmless. This done, your score rockets, leaving you oodles of time to pursue your mission.

But, take heed! The robot must be collected in the correct order - from feet to Mask. If you collect the wrong bit at the wrong time, you'll lose a life. A pretty nerdish thing to do since you've only got three to play around with. But, still, it's worth risking one life just to give yourself a little more time.

I, Of The Mask takes a bit of getting into but, once you've got the hang of it, you'll be hooked. And don't waste time gawping at Sandy White's amazing 3D graphics - time's in short supply!


Graphics9/10
Playability7/10
Value For Money7/10
Addictiveness8/10
Overall8/10
Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 46, January 1986   page(s) 19

YOU'VE got to admit it - Sandy White has class. He's the programmer who wrote the magnificent classic Ant Attack for Quicksilva, and he's back again with his old boss Rod Cousens. I Of the Mask is the result, and Sandy is obviously pursuing his own style as independently as ever.

The game is a maze quest in which you have to collect the parts of a robot - 17 in all - in order to win the Space Trials of Newgama III. The parts have to be collected in the right order, and are contained within 32 universes located throughout the maze. Each universe has three crystals, one containing the part, one taking you to another universe, and the third dumping you in another part of the maze. Your score is increased each time you collect a part, and decreases with time. If you get the wrong part, you lose a life.

Your tiny spaceman is dwarfed by the towering walls and, when you turn, instead of the usual switch between two frames, the whole scene turns with you, lurching wildly until it reaches what passes for balance again. It's the stuff of nightmares.

The robot parts are extremely difficult to recognise at first, and you must use a combination of sensible guessing and simple trial and error to work out which you should go for first. That makes the first few games fairly arbitrary, but as you recognise the first few collectable parts, the rest becomes easier through elimination. In general, the crystals form an efficient means of travelling swiftly through the maze, but do not put you where you expect. It can be very hard indeed to reach the appropriate universe - and if you have run out of ammunition you will not be able to shoot down the part.

Although there's obviously much strategy and skill involved in the game, it does become a little repetitive. Luckily, the power of the graphics save it from becoming totally boring, but we should have preferred to see rather more variety all the same.

Chris Bourne

Publisher: Electric Dreams
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K
Joystick: Sinclair, Kempston, Cursor

****


Overall4/5
Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 51, January 1986   page(s) 15

MACHINE: Spectrum
SUPPLIER: Electric Dreams
PRICE: £9.95

Sandy White, the man who turned the games world upside down with Ant Attack is set to do the same with the surreal I of the Mask. Once again Sandy has delved into the mysteries of 3D and has come up with a stunning new concept.

The game features some of the most original graphics ever seen on the Spectrum.

The idea of the game is this. You and your Jet Suit have been entered in the Space Trials on Planet Newgama III.You've been dumped in the middle of a Hitchcock-style maze with crazily leaning walls and the odd force field.

Your job is to reconstruct a long lost all-powerful robot. You've heard that this robot is the most awesome creation in the galaxy. So awesome that its creators decided never to put all the bits together. They hid them within crystals - themselves hidden within voids or "universes" within the maze.

You want to get the robot together and use it to rule the universe.

You must search the maze the universes containing the crystals. Each universe holds three floating crystals. You have to select which crystal holds the part of the robot you need. Other crystals contain extra ammo for your laser - another will beam you to different parts of the maze.

Choose the right crystal and a huge section of the robot will float in front of you. Then you must bombard it with laser bolts to shrink it to a size you can carry.

As you collect the parts they appear at the bottom of the screen.

The last bit to collect is the mask. This hovers menacingly before you at the start of each game. And glares out of the screen, daring you to enter the maze!

If you collect the mask first then you could be in trouble! You'll need lots of energy to complete the game - and it runs down really fast.

The graphics - the spinning crystals, robot parts and the crazy maze - lift this game away from the run-of-the-mill arcade adventure.


Graphics9/10
Sound6/10
Value9/10
Playability9/10
Award: C+VG Blitz Game

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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