REVIEWS COURTESY OF ZXSR

N.E.X.O.R.
by Graham Stafford, David Fish
Design Design Software
1986
Crash Issue 33, October 1986   (1986-09-25)   page(s) 33

Ahhhrr, once again Earth is being threatened by nasties from outer space. This time however the situation is far from timid. The interstellar battle between Andromedan forces and good of Mother Earth has reached as climax. For years the war has raged throughout the universe in between aeons of stalemate. Earth's commanders have decided to put an end to the conflict once and for all by attacking the crucial Andromedan lifeline, the Hyperspace route between Andromeda and Orion. Because it provides them with essential supplies without which they would be unable to continue the war, annihilation of this route would be disastrous for the Andromedans. A shrewd move on Earth's part you must admit. However, in order to accomplish this daring attack Earth has had to devise a totally new sort of Super Weapon code named Nexor after the planet which was used to house its development. It is very secret indeed.

After many feasibility studies and an awful lot of planning Nexor eventually reaches committee stage. A date is set and all the Nexor Big Cheese staff potter down to Earth fora long and boring conference over lots of cups of tea. Nexor however, left in the hands of the minion workers, becomes a prime target for a counter attack by the Andromedans (not so secret after all). The dastardly enemy launch a huge attack on the unguarded planet, hell bent on seizing the Nexor plans. The attack results in carnage, and all the workers bar one are killed. This sole survivor of the Andromedan attack realises them is only one thing left to do. He must somehow locate the ten modules (scattered around the Nexor complex for reasons of security) that make up the Super Weapon and transport there down the Matter Transference beam to the nearest Earth space ship along with the all important blueprints.

This is problem enough, what with the complex gradually being invaded by Andromedan combat droids. But the sole survivor has another problem. The Matter Transference Beam has been damaged during the fighting and must be fixed before anything can be beamed to safety. Naturally there is a limited amount of time to achieve this before the Andromedens take over.

At the game's start you are blessed with eight lives but contact with the invaders' equipment or the invading droids themselves results in one of these being lost, so courage must be complemented with skill. The Nexor complex is made up of hundreds of separate rooms, each of which is an Individual puzzle in itself. As the game progresses these rooms gradually become filled with Andromedan droids determined to prevent completion of your mission.

Apart from increasing numbers of Andromedans, the rooms are populated with an assortment of nestles which must be avoided. Some exits are inaccessible unless objects are used to reach them. Chairs and blocks can be picked up and dropped at strategic points to reach higher places. Conveyor belts take you right into the path of danger and seemingly harmless objects suddenly zap you right out of existence. Inanimate blocks spontaneously sprout legs and scuttle off in pursuit of something far removed from what you have in mind and try and flatten you into the bargain. Whether they're Maggie Thatcher look-alikes or the more conventionally shaped droids, the nasties are all equally dangerous.

If a game is prematurely aborted a status report shows you how much has been completed and how many essential pieces of equipment you have managed to find.

The quest takes place in a vast three dimensional maze flanked with steep walls leading to more levels. These can be reached by way of rather unorthodox lifts which disguise themselves as bubbles or blocks. By jumping onto a lift it's possible to reach new parts of the maze, thus getting you a bit nearer to safeguarding the Nexor secret for ever and certainly keeping it out of the clutches of those inscrutable Andromedans.

COMMENTS
Control keys: definable
Joystick: Kempston. Cursor, Interface 2
Keyboard play: pleasantly responsive
Use of colour: the same of monochromatic Filmation masking
Graphics: very good 3D, as usual in 'this sort of game
Sound: like most DESIGN DESIGN games, minimal
Skill levels: one
Screens: 128


'Good stuff! If you're into Filmation games, then Nexor will appeal to you in a big way, I think. The graphics are very good indeed, but some parts of the game behave rather unrealistically, such as when your bloke falls way down through fifteen screens and, on impact, walks off with no damage whatsoever. Despite this unfortunate aspect, the game isn't bad at all, and unlike the Amstrad version, it is perfectly possible to die. In places, Nexor is very like Batman, though the latter is superior, due to a greater degree of playability. That said, Nexor has its fair share of both playability and addictivity- Worth a look, if you're not yet bored by the mega millions of 3D games that have already appeared on the Spectrum.'

'It's all very well saying that 3D games are great, but after the amount that I've played I must admit that if it isn't the best 3D game so far then I'll easily get very bored with it. Nexor has all the potential to be one of the great 3D games but is let down by the fact that it is very unplayable - and as a result becomes boring after a few games. The problems that have to be encountered are easy to solve once you get to the room containing them. The only difficulty/ found in the game was the actual trudging around the maze of rooms. The graphics are definitely the best element of the game - very well drawn and animated. As3D games go it's well implemented, but unfortunately I couldn't find anything different enough to make it stand out.'

'I was slightly shocked when I loaded this one up and saw that it was in boring old Filmation. Have DESIGN DESIGN gone soft, are these the same people that brought us such fast and furious games as Dark Star and Rommel's evenge? After playing it for a while I was not surprised to find that it played in a similar way to all the other Filmation games - there is a nice feature though, sometimes you can walk from one room to another without a door. The graphics are up to usual Filmation standards, excellent, very large and well detailed and the Nexor complex has nice wall paper too! The sound is minimal with no tune and only a few inaudible sound effects. Generally if you like this sort of game then I recommend it to you, however if like me, you are bored to tears with Knight Lore look/play-Mikes then stay well clear of it as there is very little here that is new or interesting.'

Use of Computer83%
Graphics91%
Playability77%
Getting Started82%
Addictive Qualities78%
Value for Money80%
Overall81%
Summary: General Rating: If you're not yet bored of Filmation games, then check this one out.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 11, November 1986   page(s) 79

If you, like me, half believed the blurb about Nexor being the ultimate in arcade adventures, then you'll be as disappointed as I was when you finally see it. Originally titled Nemesis, it's been renamed to avoid any confusion between itself and the hordes of coin-op conversions of the Nemesis arcade machine. A good thing too; anyone buying this expecting a hot shoot'em up would be more browned off than a panful of Bisto.

In truth the only really ultimate thing about this game is the way the programmers have produced an Ultimate-style game. But unlike Ultimate's games, Nexor is poorly planned and casually executed. It's the ususal find-and-collect/push-box-to-door scenario, but it's so fiddly and prone to no-win situations that it's virtually unplayable.

Your first act as a Nexor operative is to try to cross a catwalk to safety, only to fall repeatedly down a seemingly bottomless pit. The most annoying thing about the game is the fact that you're not just pitting your wits against the evil creatures of the complex, but also against the quirks and faults in the program. This is not the way to write and addictive game!

To be playable, a game should be easy to learn, but hard to master. And to be addictive it must start off easy, and get progressively harder; your hope for success elusive but not hopeless. having that enormous drop at the beginning of the game must be one of the most dippy ideas ever for an opening screen. And to be frank, I found the rest of the game about as exciting as watching my washing going round.


Graphics6/10
Playability5/10
Value For Money5/10
Addictiveness4/10
Overall5/10
Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 55, October 1986   page(s) 31

A desperate last stand against the Andromedans - your fate as you find yourself abandoned on Nexor. The role of hero is thrust upon you and you've no choice - Nemisis - a deadly weapon - and its blueprints must be saved.

There's a small catch here though. Nemisis is in 10 bits and you don't know where the pieces are. Likewise, the blueprints must be found and beamed to safety, if only you can find a new control panel for the broken Matter Transfer Beam.

And that's the game. If it sounds easy, it isn't. The graphics are excellent, well up to Design Design's usual high standards - there's no colour clash, probably because each room is one colour and the masking effects are spot on.

The Nexor complex is about 13 levels deep with a huge number of rooms and corridors to puzzle your way through. Should you fall down the main lift shaft to Level 13, you won't die but it's a long tortuous journey back to the top. You'll have to use whatever lifts come to hand - be it square blocks or bubbles. These will carry you slowly up and stop at various intermediate levels. You'll then have to scurry across a platform or grid and jump on to something else to take you higher to the level you want.

Some rooms are simply stroll through jobs and are pretty uninteresting - others are infuriatingly difficult and need quite a bit of thought and practice before you can get from one side to another. The most deadly objects to avoid are bombs which tend to lie about all over the place. Bombs and other unnamed whizzing objects will kill on contact, and though eight lives sounds a lot.

Timing is the most important element of survival.

Each room can be easily negotiated once you've sussed out where and how far you can move.

In some rooms you'll find a number of objects which can be picked up though you can only carry one at a time. These consist mainly of chairs and blocks which can be balanced on top of each other to create 8 staircase. Then, if you're quick, you can hop up and into a high doorway before bad tempered aliens push the boxes away.

Your character is a chunky little fellow with realistic animation, though he plods sluggishly rather than runs, and can't leap very high - hence the boxes. On some occasions jumping is essential is when you find yourself moving on an automated walkway in the wrong direction. just turn round and, with the direction key and jump button pressed you'll soon make headway against the walkway. It's a bit like running up a down escalator.

Once you've found a bit of Nemisis or a blueprint, a message appears telling you how much time you've got left.

Quite useful, though I found my lives ran out long before the allotted time expired.

A certain random element creeps into the game too. In some cases, a room will be inhabited by all sorts of moving nasties, some which meander others seem to have set paths, but the next time you enter you might not find any. Perhaps they've all emigrated to a different area of the labyrinthine underground maze of Nexor. Whatever, a map would be a definite asset.

Though I found several pieces of the Nemisis, I didn't find the blueprints or the spare control panel, though I searched long and hard and managed to find my way round a surprising number of obstacles. However, the blueprints are more important and it's better to beam those away and self destruct Nexor if time is running out.

Label: Design Design
Author: Graham Stafford
Price: £7.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Clare Edgeley

*****


Overall5/5
Summary: Great graphics, with lots to do. Nexor's frustrating puzzles should keep you busy for a good few hours.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 62, December 1986   page(s) 42,43

MACHINE: Spectrum/Amstrad
SUPPLIER: Design Design
PRICE: £7.95
VERSIONS TESTED: Spectrum/Amstrad

Is this the best Design Design game yet? Could be. It's certainly the slickest looking and easiest to get into - unless you are totally bored by the squillions of Ultimatish 3D arcade adventures that have come your way since the Sabre Man discovered the Spectrum.

The game comes with a long background blurb about a space war between Earth and the Andromedans which seems to go on forever. If you're into that sort of sci-fi babble and need it in order to get the most out of a game, you'll probably enjoy reading it.

It all boils down to the fact that you have to prevent a mega-super-fab-totally-awesome weapon falling into enemy hands. This weapon is called Nemisis and it's hidden in bits inside the the N.E.X.O.R. complex and your job is to find and collect bits of the device in order to actually make one of these mega-super-fab-totally-awesome weapons which will end the war against the Andromedans for all time.

Heard THAT before somewhere, haven't we?! You have to find the blueprint for one weapon and bring them to safety.

All the time you are searching the complex - and it's BIG - for these bits and bobs, the Andromendans are filtering into the many rooms. This makes your life - or lives, you get eight - much more difficult.

Some of the nasties look strangely like Mrs T. I've always had my suspicions that She was some sort of creature from outer space.

Other things suddenly grow legs and scuttle around - so watch what you start pushing around! Yes, you can move things to help you jump up to seemingly impossible doorways and ledges. Lifts and bubbles also help transport you about the vast maze of a game.

The puzzles are what you'd expect from this sort of arcade adventure - nothing out of the ordinary here. In fact the game itself isn't vastly original. But it is good to play, addictive up to a point, and pretty to look at.

When you first start the game - and I really enjoyed this bit the first few times - you can step off into nothingness and fall, keep on falling, and fall a bit more, down a long shaft. Just as if they wanted to show how big the game really is...

Both Spectrum and Amstrad versions have good looking and stylish graphics. The Amstrad must be one of the best looking games around for this machine. Great use of colour and very pleasing screen design.

The alien beings you encounter - like the Maggie head - are jokey creatures, well animated.

The only thing missing from both versions is sound. No tunes and minimal round effects. But this is a minor gripe. Overall N.E.X.O.R. Is a polished and playable game.

Ironic isn't it - when everyone was playing Knight Lore clones Design Design were turning out unfashionable super-fast shoot 'em ups like Dark Star. Now that everyone is playing super-fast shootem-up, Design Design has produced a 3D Filmation game. Funny old world...

Graham Stafford and graphic designer David Fish are to be congratulated on producing a solid - if not startling different - arcade adventure.


Graphics7/10
Sound5/10
Value9/10
Playability8/10
Graphics9/10
Sound4/10
Value9/10
Playability8/10
Transcript by Chris Bourne

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