Masters of the Universe - The Movie
by Greg A. Holmes, SP
Gremlin Graphics Software Ltd
Crash Issue 49, February 1988   (1988-01-28)   page(s) 99

It's yet another struggle for the secrets of existence in this official tie-in with the much-hyped (and much-derided) Masters Of The Universe film - itself a tie-in with the successful cartoon and Mattel toy range.

And Gremlin Graphics hasn't been put off its love of licences by two previous Masters Of The Universe games: an arcade adventure from US Gold (28% Overall in CRASH Issue 38) and an adventure from US Gold's subsidiary Adventuresoft (84% in Issue 44).

In Gremlin Graphics's new product, the eight scattered chords to the key that controls time must be found before they can tall into the evil grasp of Skeletor. He-Man is the only one who can avert this disaster.

The action commences in the streets where our muscle pumped hero meets numerous creations of Skeletor who can fire upon him. Each time he is hit, they deprive him of valuable energy. The energy which remains is shown by a sword at the side of the main screen. He-Man can restore his energy by gathering the discarded swords that lie about. If his energy drops to zero, one of his four lives is lost.

He-Man can fight back, and when he hits a henchman he scores points. A certain score yields a chord, and on gaining a chord the next stage of the mission can begin. In stage two the hunk chunk hero begins in a scrapyard where he is confronted by two of Skeletor's top crew, Blade and Karg. If they can be beaten, then our man, who makes a body builder look like a babe in arms, moves on to another level.

Battle awaits him all the way along the line, and again those elusive chords remain to be collected. Eventually, when he has climbed a ladder reaching to the sky and travelled on a space-disc, He-Man is transported to the scene of a violent shoot-'em-up against hordes of Skeletor's soldiers.

Should He-Man succumb to these terrifying odds and be captured by these cohorts, then he is taken to the Castle of Greyskull. Skeletor is the victor unless He- Man has all eight chords in his hands.

During this final stage, the culmination of all his efforts, He- Man must use all of his guile, strength and combat skill to overwhelm Skeletor and then make himself Master of the Universe. A countdown at the bottom right of the screen, shows the time constraint within which He-Man must work.

Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: well-animated and intricately detailed, but need more colour
Sound: average spot effects

'I am glad that Gremlin has got the Masters Of The Universe licence because it usually makes a first-class job of these 'theme' games. Your first encounter with this one might lead you to believe that it's Just another Gauntlet clone. But it's smoother than Gauntlet because there are fewer characters on the screen and everything's much clearer. I loved the shoot-'em-up and thought that there were some nice little touches such as the energy being in the shape of a sword. The Inlay card includes a map which is easy to understand and I think that the cemetery is the best combat area for graphics and gameplay.'
NATHAN ... 76%

'After US Gold's depressing licence of the He-Man cartoon it is at least a relief to see that Gremlin has done rather better with the film and its nice to see that the finished game has at least some connection with its subject matter. Everything is pleasantly presented, with attractive backgrounds and small but adequate sprites, though the sound is nothing to get excited about; it consists of distinctly average FX and a rather muted tune. The way in which the screen orientation revolves whenever you change screens enables all scrolling to be vertical (and hence smooth); however a catch is that the effect is very disconcerting. Yet everything remains playable enough, and the variety of subgames provide extra interest-'
MIKE ... 71%

'Masters Of The Universe presents some interesting graphics though the colour leaves a lot to be desired. However, I didn't find it addictive. The first stage is better than the second, but walking around just shooting everything does get boring.'
DAVE ... 64%

Summary: General Rating: The best all three attempts at the cartoon tie-in.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 67, August 1989   (1989-07-27)   page(s) 44

By the power of Greyskull, I have the power! So He-man says, but can we take his word for it? He must fight nasty people and collect eight chords in five game sections. Chords are found in the streets, others can only be obtained by splattering Skeletons hit men. He-Man has brought along two of his pals to help him in his mission, Teela and Gwildor. He-Man may be the master of the universe but he definitely isn't master of the computer game. This is bad with a capital B and another of those boring Gauntlet variants which cropped up so much in the past. He-Man is a tiny character, mostly mid- screen, and a not very impressive one at that. The graphics do slightly improve on some levels, but not enough to make you shout it from the roof tops! The tune doesn't resemble the cartoon series at all. The tasks and plot being exactly the same each load, does not help the lastability factor.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 27, March 1988   page(s) 25

Yes, you've read the movie: you've won the breakfast cereal; you've heard the bendy toys with the eyes which light up when you press their private plastic parts; now eat the game - Masters of the Universe!

Yes folks it's another licensing deal! Let's not bother with quality, throw the plot out of the window; and who cares about programming? The punters are going to lap it up!

Five games in one package. all based on events in Masters of the Universe - The Movie. The objective is to get through the five games, and collect the eight parts of the lost Cosmic key, possession of which will ensure that its finder will have the right to call him, her or itself the Master of the Universe. The key has, for reasons known only to itself and the scriptwriter of the film, slipped through a hole in time and space and ended up with an American college student.

The first offering is a search through the streets of Smalltown, USA. You control He-Man, who unfortunately looks like just one more purple blob in a whole bunch of purple blobs. Your attempt to find your friends and various bits of the key, are hindered by the minions of the evil Skeletor.

The streets are shown from above, and the minions (and He-Man) look pretty similar, like walking plastic robots. Luckily you can tell which is He-Man; he's the one who moves and shoots when you twiddle the joystick, and doesn't when you don't. Plus you also get attacked by flying nuts.

You have to try and shoot the minions before they shoot you, or if the worst comes to the worst, charge into them. If you get hit by their bolts, or if you touch them or the nuts, you lose energy. The amount of energy you have left is shown by the sword to the left of the graphics window; as it melts a bit like a candle - you have less and less. Luckily you have four lives, and you can also find little swords just lying about which give you extra energy.

Every so often, you will also find chords - which look like musical notes - lying in the street. Again, you want to collect them.

One of the main problems I had was that I kept going round in circles. There's a direction arrow indicating north at the top left of the screen, but north isn't always the same direction. If you exit one screen at the top, going north, then going up to the next screen isn't necessarily still going north. In fact, it might well be going south, in which case you just return to the screen you were on previously. Keep going in the same direction, and you're back onto screen two and so on. Seems strange to me!

You may by now have got the impression that I don't like the game much. You'd be right. But to be fair, I don't think its really aimed at me; I suspect it's like Mask, meant for a younger audience, presumably the same one that watches the shows, and forces its parents to buy extremely expensive lumps of plastic. But if you want a bit more bite from an arcade game, then give it a miss.

There's a very basic map in the instruction leaflet, but as the design of the town is pretty basic too it's very useful. The only places worth visiting are the electrical store, the scrapyard and the rooftops. As they're the only things marked on the map, they should be fairly easy to find.

That's game one. Game two is a bust-up in the scrapyard, where you punch, dodge and kick your way through a battle royal with two of Skeletor's nastiest henchbeings. Typical kung-fu style stuff, it seems.

Game three is a shoot-out at the electrical store; you control the cross-hairs and try and pick off Skeletor's warriors. Game four and you've nicked a flying disk; zip around the air-lanes, zapping the gribblies with your trusty laser guns. Finally, I am reliably informed, once you've nicked, er, collected, all the chords then you can make your way to the throne room in Eternia, where you battle with Skeletor. Beat him, release the sorceress, and whammy! You've won.

Value For Money6/10
Summary: Disappointing tie-in, presumably aimed at a younger audience. There's less here than meets the eye.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 45, September 1989   page(s) 47

Know what this is in Italian? Yes, Masters Of The Universe™ — Il Film. Seriously. But whatever it's called, it's not to be confused with the 6,000 other Masters Of The Universe games that seem to have come out over the past two or three years, all of which I have now conveniently forgotten after loading this turkey up again. Did anyone say turkey? Listen, funsters, this gobbles at you off the shelf. And it's delicious with cranberry sauce. MOTU™ - TM is the official licence of the film of the toy of the TV cartoon series, and She-Ra has nothing to do with it at all (so stop leering - yes, Jenkinson you at the back). There are five sub-games in here somewhere, each based on events in the film, but none even remotely interesting. You begin by wandering through the streets of Smalltown USA, avoiding sprites which try to shoot you with bullets that would arrive faster if they were posted. You have to collect chords (which naturally are lying around on the street) and move to the scrapyard (Game Two) where you fight two of the Skeletor's most evil minions - if you can be bothered that is. Yes. this is very dull - the graphics are undistinguished and the whole game is balanced precariously between an out-and-out shoot 'em up and an arcade adventure exploration. As usual in these cases it doesn't work as either. In all, a disappointing tie-in (and good grief, we've seen a few of these in the past). There's less here than meets the eye.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE Issue 6, March 1988   page(s) 51

Gremlin present He-Man.

Our Lord gave us Christmas. Cannon gave us the movie, and now Gremlin have come up with the turkey.

Masters of the Universe takes place on a sizeable city map, across which your small HE-MAN figure makes his way, blasting SKELETOR'S henchmen, who materialise on each screen and pepper him with bullets. Your strength drops each time the baddies score a hit and can only be replenished by picking up the occasional sword found in the street. Your objective is to retrieve 8 'chords' before confronting SKELETOR.

The action is about as uninteresting as it could possibly be, but to save the game from instant consignment to the rubbish bin there are other scenarios. For example, every so often a small panel flashes onto the screen, showing one of your two companions TEELA and GWILDOR. They will give you a brief, scrolling message, telling you where they are and inviting you to join them. Get there in time and you'll be propelled into a game-within-a-game to alleviate the monotony.

Unfortunately, these mini-games are pretty atrocious as well. One of them features a punch-and-kick combat sequence. It's slow, unconvincing, and unexciting. There's also a 'shoot-out', which puts a cursor on the screen that you move over the front of a building, shooting figures that pop up in the windows before they shoot you. Hardly original.

Other scenarios include a "disc battle", which has you flying around the streets, shooting air-borne assailants, and the final confrontation with SKELETOR where you have to shove him into 'the abyss'. Neither of these is likely to have you on the edge of your seat with excitement.

What you're left with then is a lot of Robotron-style shooting, in eight directions only, against unintelligent opponents, and spiced up with the occasional change of scenario. Gameplay is appalling, with the direction of North changing each time you flip screens, forcing you to re-orient yourself constantly. The action on the Spectrum and Amstrad versions is desperately slow. Furthermore, the graphics on all versions are uninspiring and repetitive.

Its debatable whether this product should ever have been on sale in the first place, but the best thing for Gremlin to do now would be to bin the entire stock and start work on something better.

Reviewer: Steve Cooke

C64/128, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Out Now
Ams, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Out Now
Spec, £7.99cs, Out Now

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 70/100
1 hour: 30/100
1 day: 28/100
1 week: 25/100
1 month: 20/100
1 year: 0/100

IQ Factor2/10
Fun Factor1/10
Ace Rating369/1000
Summary: Glossy packaging and licence raise your hopes - the game soon dashes them.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE Issue 24, September 1989   page(s) 84

Kixx, Spectrum, £2.99

Both an arcade and adventure game were released to coincide with the Dolph Lundgren film. Both were popular in their respective fields. And it was this, the arcade version, that was first on budget.

He-man has escaped from castle Greyskulle and been transported to modern day America. To return to his world He-man has to collect eight chords to activate the musical cosmic key.

MOTU is set over six different levels providing lots of varied action, including an overhead view Gauntlet style sequence, a cross hair shoot out and stand up fight routines.

The original release wasn't too spectacular across most formats - indeed, it received (and deserved) a blistering ACE write-off. The Spectrum version was marginally more forgiveable and at three quid buys some varied challenges...

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 76, February 1988   page(s) 58,59

MACHINES: CBM 64/Spectrum/Amstrad/Atari ST
SUPPLIER: Gremlin Graphics
PRICE: Spectrum (£7.99)/Amstrad, CBM 64 (£9.99/£14.99 cass and disk)/Atari ST (£19.99)
VERSIONS TESTED: CBM 64/Amstrad/Spectrum

Picture this: A giant of a man, with flowing blond hair, and more muscles on his little finger than most mortals have in their entire puny bodies.

Who is he? He He-Man, the world's most powerful man, famous toy, star of the Master of the Universe film and Gremlin Graphics' game.

Through time the eternal conflict has continually raged - the battle between good and evil. Whoever manages to gain the key to time will eventually triumph and rightly claim the title Master of the Universe.

And it is the struggle for the key to time which once again brings those age old enemies He-Man and the evil Skeletor into conflict.

That struggle between good and evil will be erupting across the silver screen after Christmas when the Masters of the Universe movie, starring mega hunk Dolph Lundgren an awesome 6ft 6ins and 2401bs - as He-Man, goes on general release.

And now you can take part in that struggle with Gremlin Graphics' Masters or the Universe game based on the film.

The planet Eternia, familiar to all those who have seen the Masters of the Universe cartoon series, has been devastated by war. Skeletor, that skull-faced incarnation of evil, and his equally awful henchwoman Evil-Lyn, are plotting to destroy the sorceress of Greyskulle Castle and rob her power.

Opposing this dastardly plot is He-Man, Gwildor, a genius dwarf (this is a new character you won't have seen on television) Teela and Man at Arms.

The film and the game open where Skeletor has imprisoned the sorceress and is absorbing her power. He-Man and friends arrive but fail to rescue her.

He-Man, Teela and ManAt-Arms retreat inside the hovel of Gwildor, who possesses a cosmic key - a small cylindrical device that can magically transport them anywhere in the universe. Gwildor punches out a tonal code that will allow the group to exit the palace, but a stray bolt of power alters the location. The group disappears through a dimensional 'door'. Suddenly they are on the planet Earth, in a little Californian Town named Colby.

And that is really where the game begins.

On the way through time to Earth the key is lost and separated into eight musical chords. These have been scattered around the various playing areas which you, playing the part of He-Man, must find before the ultimate confrontation with Skeletor back on Eternia.

The game starts in the street with a shoot 'em up where, if you score enough points, you'll collect your first chord. This involves a lot of wandering about and being shot at. It struck me as a little aimless.

Having received a message from Teela that your services are required elsewhere, the scene zooms over to a scrap yard where you do battle with two of Skeletor's top henchmen, Blade and Karg. If you win, you're another chord better off.

With two chords under your belt, and having received another SOS, you find yourself on your way to Charlie's Electronic Store where, if you're clever, you'll collect another chord on the way and still have enough energy for a good shoot out when you get there! This time the action is sky high as you race to the top of a ladder and then onto your 'space disc' for the shoot out.

This is make or break: Will you claim victory or be outnumbered by Skeletor's troops? If you're taken prisoner, you'll be held captive at the infamous Castle of Greyskulle. If you haven't collected eight chords, Greyskulle has defeated you and his evil power will reign supreme. If you have eight, you have the right to challenge Skeletor.

Masters, for me lacks immediate playability to maintain interest. But if you're a fan of the cartoons or the film, you'll probably enjoy the game.

It's interesting that the previous Masters of the Universe game by US Gold has now been re-released on the Americana label at a budget price.

That's quite good as well.

GraphicsNot Rated
SoundNot Rated
ValueNot Rated
PlayabilityNot Rated
Transcript by Chris Bourne

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