REVIEWS COURTESY OF ZXSR

Mailstrom
by Reptile Industries Ltd: David McGee, John Robinson
Ocean Software Ltd
1986
Crash Issue 35, December 1986   (1986-11-20)   page(s) 132

Michael starts out his days work with a conventional post van. However, such is the line of his work and the ferociousness of the locals, that he will need to upgrade it quite considerably.

Before Michael can get anywhere in the game he must collect various items from the post boxes along the way. He doesn't have any keys so he must use his initiative to get them open. The odd bomb found in the road will blast an adequate hole in them, but these are few and far between. Amongst the goodies found in the post boxes there is also the equipment needed to upgrade Michael's van. Anti-personnel rockets will make short work of any post box until he can find the skeleton keys, these can also hassle the locals. There is a super pursuit mode which turns the post van into something totally different so that it will speed along at a fair old rate.

The objective of the game is to exchange postal sacks for letters to be delivered. When Michael visits the sorting Depot, house numbers will light up at the bottom of the screen. The number of these houses will depend on how many postal sacks Michael has deposited in the' In' shute at the sorting office. Michael must then visit each house indicated to deliver the letters.

All the controls are icon driven in the game. Pressing fire when Michael is in the van or standing very close to it will get him into the menu. Michael can move the cursor over the required option and this will activate it. Michael starts the game with very few options on this menu, but as he picks up various objects the options increase.

The inhabitants of this town are very aggressive characters and will try their utmost to hassle Michael when he's trying to carry out his job. When Michael gets hassled by one of these people he will sustain damage which can be checked by looking at the first aid icon. If Michael's damage gets too high then S.K.I.T may suggest a quick visit to the hospital. These nasty characters in the game can be killed by running them over in the van. However, if an innocent citizen gets killed then points are deducted and Michael is arrested by the local policeman. If Michael gets arrested too often, or if he runs over a policeman, then the game is over.

COMMENTS
Control keys: Up-Keys Q to P on the second row, Down-keys A to ENTER on the third row, Left=CAPS SHIFT and alternate keys on the bottom row, Right-Z and alternate keys on the bottom row, Fire=Keys 1 to 0 on the top row
Joystick: Kempston
Keyboard play: responsive
Use of colour: unimaginative
Graphics: rather slow
Sound: spot effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: scrolling play area


'First impressions of the awful graphics were with me right the way through my playing session of Mailstrom. I must say that it ruined my admiration for Postman Pat, upholder of the peace, and generally right do-er. The game's main high is the ideas incorporated in it, but I think that the Implementation is sorely lacking. Maybe the programmer of this could get together with Jonathon Smith, or someone with similar talent, and then maybe we would see a game really worth playing; how about it ocean?'

'This game really appeals to me, this is mainly due to the sick sense of humour of the programmers. The gameplay isn't really very slick but N you stick with it Mailstrom will grow on you, although I can't really see myself playing it for very long. The graphics are fair, the characters are nicely animated but not well drawn and the street is well detailed but it scrolls badly. I can't really recommend this one, for eight quid you should get a game that will keep you occupied for more than an afternoon'

'My, what a strange game this is. And to see OCEAN publishing it is twice the surprise. Mailstrom is a very simple game to get into but has nothing to keep any self-respecting game player attached for any length of time. The way the game is presented is quite good, with a redesigned character set and a nice screen layout. The graphics are small and rather dull. A very basic game at a high price.'

Use of Computer62%
Graphics58%
Playability58%
Getting Started64%
Addictive Qualities56%
Value for Money64%
Overall59%
Summary: General Rating: A bit of a laugh.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 14, February 1987   page(s) 48

Maelstrom is a post punk Postman Pat. In the true spirit of Wells Fargo, your task in this icon driven adventure is to make sure the mail gets through. Thing is, the hazards you face are a shade more formidable than a yapping Yorkie or a missing postcode. For this is post North Sea oil Britain, run by criminals out to do their darndest to marmalise your mail van.

Indeed, despite its innocent red outside, this mail van has a more sophisticated armoury than an F-111. Worse still, it's driven by the menacing Michael Nasty. The controlling heart of the game and the van is SKIT - Special Knowledge and information Terminal - or the icon menu to us plebs. This allows you to pause, quit, check your van damage, how much mail you've collected and how to get in and out of the van.

Once inside the van, you're generally safe. But, of course, you're going to have to step outside once in a while to pick up tho mail from the sorting office. Numbers light up at the bottom of the screen telling you where to deliver, though you don't have to worry about complicated things like street names.

You'll also have to get sacks from post boxes. The more you get back to the 'in' section of the sorting office, the more mail you'll get - and the higher your target sack number will be for that day. Fail to achieve that and you're sacked (her bar!) and the game's over.

On your jolly rounds you can run over baddies but avoid the innocents, else you'll tot up licence points or worse, the police'll appear to cart you off. Damage sustained can always be rectified at the Hospital, though.

Mailstrom seems to fall between stools - it's neither wacky enough to be a mickey-take, nor does it take itself seriously enough to be a real puzzling adventure. Despite its wry humour and its neat scenario there are long tracts of boredom, 'cos it's just so slow, even when in super pursuit mode. For me, Mailstrom just fails to deliver.


Graphics7/10
Playability6/10
Value For Money8/10
Addictiveness8/10
Overall8/10
Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 60, March 1987   page(s) 34

Well I sort of like this. It reminds me vaguely of Postman Pat the kids all-action program about the adventures of a postman. He has a red van. Its very nice.

Anyway Mailstrom, a postman game set towards the dawn of the 21st century where, curiously, Michael Nasty drives Skit (are bells ringing?) a bright red van, determined to get the post through at any cost in a post nuclear world of anarchy and destruction. This is an unusual plot for an arcade game.

The story goes like this: collect letters from the sorting office, a series of lights then indicates which houses must have a letter delivered to them. As you drive around you will pass post boxes from which you must collect bags of mail. Unlike conventional postmen you feel that a mere key is not an adequate means of opening the box, the answer? Bombs.

The mixture of letter delivery, letter collection, avoiding muggers and exploding post boxes forms the sum total of the game. Though it has various icon controls there really isn't very much to it. The conflict in the game resides merely in trying to meet the sack collecting required set each day. Complex it isn't.

The graphics are pretty good, although technically the game doesn't really pose many problems. The van moves slowly (well the street scrolls behind it) and sometimes Michael has to get out to blow up a post box but the areas of movement are carefully controlled so there is little colour clash. The van is red (a surprise that) the backgrounds are a sort of shaded black and white - quite effective actually - very post apocalypse film noir.

As a game, well I enjoyed it a surprising amount, chugging around in my little van delivering the mail but then I always was a bit simple. I don't think it will retain a long term appeal. I'd give it a life of only a couple of weeks. Still, in its own terms a successful little game.

Label: Ocean
Author: Reptile Industries
Price: £7.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

***


Overall3/5
Summary: Possibly the only postman game to be set in the 21st century clever ideas but not likely to have long term appeal.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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