Nuclear Countdown
by Adrian Longland
Atlantis Software Ltd
Crash Issue 38, March 1987   (1987-02-26)   page(s) 113

It's back to the old 'nuclear reactor going crazy' scenario. One thing games designers never tire of is the prospect of some hideous nuclear accident dumping radioactivity all over the place. Once again, you are at the controls trying to stop the world from glowing in the dark.

Naturally, you are not expected to go down into the trouble zone in person - you have a little robot to guide around and do the dirty work. Four nucleo cells are unstable and about to blow any second, and they have to be destroyed by nudging into them.

The game is played over a terrain displayed from an isometric 3D viewpoint, in a strange complex made up from blocks and floor sections. Some of the blocks can be shoved around, and the floor doesn't always cover the entire screen in view. Some segments drain energy while others propel your droid off in a given direction rather violently. Energy recharging points are scattered round the building.

Mutant droids inhabit the complex and come in two basic flavours: some tromp around following a set patrol path and other, really mutant robots, home in on your droid. Contact with the guard droids saps energy, which is monitored by a horizontal bar at the base of the screen.

The hero of the piece can fight back, however - he's equipped with a shield that drains energy when it's used but comes in handy for battering the baddies.

The game is divided into four sections, one for each nucleo. Five droids are supplied, and when the current servant expires, the next mechanoid clanks off from the start of the current section.

There's no score: just a rating based on the number of nucleos neutralised. To make life that bit more difficult, the game is played against the clock.

Control keys: definable; left, right, up, down, shield, pause, quit
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Use of colour: monochrome
Graphics: excellent detail, good animation
Sound: good effects, no tune
Skill levels: two
Screens: 25

'Well done ATLANTIS - what an excellent piece of budget software. Although Nuclear Countdown is far too easy to offer much in the way of lasting appeal, I'll be hooked until I complete it: it is really playable and ever so compelling. The graphics are slick - the backgrounds are excellently detailed and the characters move around smoothly. The sound leaves a little to be desired - the effects are good, but there is no tune whatsoever. Overall, I think that this is well worth its two quid price tag. Go and buy it.'

'A great little game from ATLANTIS. Even though monochromatic graphics are the order of the day, this is an addictive and very playable game. Presentation is superb with a neat pause mode and some good sound effects. All the characters are very well drawn, contain lots of detail and are well animated. I found Nuclear Countdown very easy to get into - but unfortunately a bit too easy to complete. If you want a great little budget game with strong hints of Highway Encounter then this could be for you. I certainly enjoyed playing it.'

'Nuclear Countdown, while it isn't exactly blazing trails in the fields of software excellence, is quite a competent little game. The graphics, although small, move quickly and smoothly, and for £1.99, I don't think that anyone will complain if I recommend it. Despite the fact that most people won't play it for the rest of their time, it is playable, and to an extent, addictive. It looks and plays very like a cheap game; I don't mean that in a negative way - don't expect too much from it. Although there is nothing particularly amazing about Nuclear Countdown, you might find it alright for the price.'

Value for Money78%
Summary: General Rating: A very neat budget game.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 15, March 1987   page(s) 70

Any game called Nuclear Countdown is bound to be a tacky little depressarama, right? Well, you're wrong! The aim of the game is to neutralise a series of nucleo cells distributed around the playing area, and you do this by simply bumping into them. The style of play is somewhere between Spindizzy and Bombscare, with a soupçon of the best qualities of both.

The graphics are great - my favourite sprites are the little robot that you control, and the lumpy power cells you absorb on your way around the complex. The gameplay is slow at first, as you discover how to work your way round the rooms. After the first few goes, though, you can sprint around, using the moving floor sections for speed, as fast as you can handle. If you run out of time the reactor in the complex explodes, blasting every pixel from the screen in a huge nuclear explosion.

This is a really good solid little game, which although not stupendously original in concept (man), is very good value!

Value For Money9/10
Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 60, March 1987   page(s) 72,73

Amazing how last year's state of the art is this year's budget offering. A year or so back Nuclear Countdown would have been a Classic. This year it's a grade A top quality budget title. That's an advance I guess.

Visually Nuclear Countdown reminds me of a cross between Gyroscope and Highway Encounter, there are the 3D grids, holes and sliding platforms that remind me of the former The funny little pyramids, barrels and other objects are inspired by the tatter.

The game is played on a time limit. Your robot droid (yes another one of those) has to find its way through a maze of 25 rooms seeking out unstable cells and neutralising them (curiously this is achieved by blowing the thing up).

Inevitably there are the usual bumper assortment of robot droids lurking around each screen in the game. These scuttle about and should you bump into them - Zing! - back you go to the first screen again. This can get very frustrating The grid-like rooms are not easy to negotiate either. Some sections forcibly slide you in one direction or another, whichever its the wrong way. you can be sure of that.

Some squares drain energy shields (which defend you from at least some of the droid onslaught) others restore it. Some objects can be moved around, though I haven't found much reason to do so yet. Your continuing problem is to get to an energy restoring area before your shield energy drains completely.

It isn't terrifically original, and 25 rooms is not that awesome, but its very slickly programmed and well worth investigating. As I said, a year ago it would have been £9.95.

Label: Atlantis
Author: Adrian Longland
Price: £1.99
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor


Summary: 3D Arcade Came, that mixes Gyroscope with Highway Encounter to good effect. A first division budget title.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 66, April 1987   page(s) 34

MACHINES: Spectrum 48/128
SUPPLIER: Atlantis
PRICE: £1.99

If anybody out there fancies saving the world from a nuclear explosion yet again, then this offering from Atlantis will certainly be worth the £1.99 asking price.

The idea is to guide your robots around 25 rooms to locate and destroy four unstable 'nucleo' cells that are threatening the world.

Care must be taken to preserve your energy levels, energy is lost when travelling through various parts of the 'nucleo' complex, especially when close to an unstable cell.

Energy is also lost by contact with one of the many mutant droids. Your shields will reduce energy loss and in some cases destroy the mutant droid. At various points throughout the complex you are able to restore your energy levels.

When you start, the playing area scrolls onto the screen from below. The playing area is in the now worldwide famous Knightlore style. 3D for those of you who are new to the computer game terminology.

The movement of your droid is very smooth as is the movement of the other droids that will drain your energy. You are given a time limit of 600 on the countdown clock to locate and destroy all the unstable 'nucleor cells.

Nuclear Countdown is a very good try at 3D and will keep a lot of Spectrum owners happy.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB