REVIEWS COURTESY OF ZXSR

Orbix the Terrorball
by John Pragnell, MIG
Streetwise
1986
Crash Issue 36, Christmas Special 1986/87   (1986-12-10)   page(s) 180

This is the first release from DOMARK'S new label, STREETWISE, set up to promote DOMARK's new line in arcade games.

Eeek! an allied space ship has crash landed on Horca, a distant hostile planet. The crew were unhurt in the crash, but they are now stranded. As supreme commander, your task is to take your Orbix (Tactical Planetary Warfare craft) down to the unfriendly planet and rescue the poor survivors.

However, there is just one tiny problem. The Planet Horca isn't just unfriendly, it's positively dangerous. The entire planet is just unfriendly, it's positively dangerous. The entire planet is infested with large insectivores (sort of big insects). These nasty creepie-crawlies have taken the crashed ship apart bit by bit, pilfering the food supplies within. Not content with this however, they are now fixing their roaming eyes on the crew. You must get to them before they become the After Eight mints at the end of the insectivores' meal. The cunning insectivores have also created a species of fierce droids which pursue your Orbix mercilessly. Other perils which you must face include magnetic tar pits which suck your Orbix into the bowels of the planet, and strange vegetation which isn't actually dangerous but it does knock you off course if you bounce into it.

The screen shows the action scrolling diagonally. You have to bounce your Orbix down through the screen, blasting any insectivores and droids along the way. A constant push in any direction simply revolves it, however, a short push forward or backwards sends you off in that direction. A direction meter is located at the bottom of the main screen, this shows you which direction you are going to travel in. There are eight axis of movement available, so you can romp around the planet avoiding most objects if you're careful enough.

There are six missing components from the spaceship which you must recover in order to complete your mission. The long range scanner shows the position of the next piece of the ship. The components are usually carried by factory droids. These rather stupid creatures fight if they're cornered, but they generally flee if approached. When a droid is destroyed, you must still be careful, as it's booby trapped. This means that you have only 90 seconds to get the piece of ship back to the launch pad, where it is automatically assembled.

The Orbix has unlimited blasting power which comes in very handy for getting rid of all the unsavory insectivores. However, it only has a limited amount of life energy, this is replenishable by 'feeding' off the power crystals which are conveniently left behind by the dead droids.

On each level there are eight stranded spacemen to collect, with points scored for each one who is returned safely. There are four levels, which can be selected at the beginning of the game. There is also a two player option, so you and a mate can battle it out together.

COMMENTS
Control keys: Q Increase speed, A Slow down, O Rotate left, P Rotate right, SPACE fire, H Pause, J continue, BREAK during pause to abort
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Keyboard play: hard to get the hang of, but it eventually becomes slightly easier than using the joystick
Use of colour: it's a bit blue
Graphics: good detail
Sound: the odd spot effect
Skill levels: four
Screens: scrolling playing area


'The graphics of Orbix impressed me at first, but once I started playing I found that the game was very boring. There is very little to do, and is just a case of looking at your scanner and trying to get to that place on the play area. The scrolling play area works well and is very smooth and well designed, but I feel that the game would have been more fun with less obstacles in the way of your progress. I can see Orbix has the potential of being a good game, if only there was something more challenging to do in it.'

'Orbix the Terrorball is not really one of the best games around at the moment but it ain't the worst. The basic idea bouncing around the playing area etc is fairly sound but I think that it could have been made a little more compelling. Orbix is presented fairly well, the excellently scrolling background is dotted with various buildings and trees and your character bounces up and down nicely. All in all I wouldn't recommend this, there are plenty of games around in the same vein that are easier to play.'

'Mmm. The graphics aren't all that good, and the game isn't either. I don't know what it is (do I ever?) that gives me the impression of poor quality, but there is definitely something. The graphics have a negative feel to them, and the whole game just doesn't play very well. The cover artwork is excellent, with the massive sphere dominating everything, but unfortunately, the game doesn't seem to be of the same caliber. I'm not overly keen on it.'

Use of Computer64%
Graphics67%
Playability57%
Getting Started66%
Addictive Qualities58%
Value for Money61%
Overall62%
Summary: General Rating: Dull game, tricky controls.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 14, February 1987   page(s) 78

First from the Domark non-tie-in, arcade label... surely an attempt to escape the notoriety of past turkeys like View To A Kill. Well, it's good to report that Orbix is not the load of old spheroids that you might have feared.

This game's of the 3D, seen from above, variety. But Marble Madness it's not, because Orbix bounces rather than rolls, and the landscape is littered with structures that make it look like the garden of a modern sculpture collector.

You begin on the planet Horca, and as with so many planets in computer games, there's no Welcome mat awaiting your arrival. In fact, the natives are determined to hamper you in your mission of mercy. You must locate stranded astronauts and the sections of their fragmented ship, which you have come equipped to rebuild.

Before your search can start for real, you'll need a Federation Property Developer. The FPD will guide you to where the bits of the ship are scattered. But the Horcan horribles are out to get you, so you'll have to shoot first and ask questions later.

You've got unlimited ammo for this mission, but not endless energy. All is not lost though, because a hammered Horcan holds enough power to recharge your cells for a while, if you bounce over his remains and dance on his grave.

To help in your search there are two alternatives to the main display. A long range radar helps locate astronauts, while the planetary map indicates how to avoid traffic jams on the busy by-pass! But avoid getting shot at too much, because you could lose the use of these valuable visual aids.

When you finally locate the component, you then have to battle a droid for it. Providing you win this duel, you must race back to the centre of the radar. The droid booby-trapped the bit and you've got just ninety seconds to return it to the neutralising zone.

Controlling Orbix isn't easy. Every time you hit an obstacle you bounce back and have to re-orientate yourself, but eventually you'll pick up speed. The view screen scrolls smoothly - a distinct advantage over games where the landscape merely flips. There are also four difficulty levels.

Despite the fact that it's a competent game, my reaction to Orbix was rather neutral. Somehow there just didn't seem enough variety, enough drama, enough meat, to make me want to play for long. Then again, it could be that it'll grow on you with time, so bounce into your local software shop and take a look.


Graphics8/10
Playability8/10
Value For Money7/10
Addictiveness7/10
Overall7/10
Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 59, February 1987   page(s) 53

The Streetwise label seems to be an arcade game off-shoot of Domark and in this guise Orbix the Terrorball has been released.

It may not be a wholly original arcade game but it rings the changes a little on some traditional ideas.

With a name like Terrorball it would be pretty surprising if this game lacked balls, or didn't have at least one. Sure enough, you bounce all over the place. You bounce slow or you bounce fast, it depends on the controls, but one thing is for sure - you bounce into a lot of things and hardly any of them do you any good.

The screen is pretty clever, a fully scrolling 3D landscape (two-colours only of course) littered with assorted geometrical shapes and other peculiar objects. Very many of these objects wish to kill you or otherwise hinder your bouncing progress. Naturally there are other problems namely the nasty spiders (yuk) and the other ball-like-thing-with-flickery bits on it. You can blast them and miraculously they turn into extra energy (and you need it) but they are incredibly difficult to hit.

There is a plot. It involves collecting six bits of a spacecraft, rescuing the crew and getting them off this distant planet.

Getting the bits involves first finding a detector (a little white blip on a radar screen) then finding a factory droid (a cross on the screen) which is running away. You bounce furiously after it, trying not to bump into anything, if you catch it you blast it, it drops the part and you take it to the launch pad (with a time limit).

I sort of enjoyed Orbix The game looks pretty good, but I found it infuriatingly difficult, and ultimately, later levels get even more difficult, I think it might get a bit tedious.

Still, not a bad start for the Streetwise label and could be an outside bet for the charts.

Label: Streetwise
Author: John Pragnell
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

***


Overall3/5
Summary: Fairly original bounce the ball game, with clever 3D graphics. Difficult and perhaps lacking in variety in the long term.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 64, February 1987   page(s) 52

Orbix sounds like one of those domestic detergents that kills 99 percent of all known germs. But in this case it's a tactical planetary warfare craft which kills 99 percent of all known insectivores.

This first release on Domark's arcade label puts you in charge of Orbix the Terrorball on a rescue mission on the unhospitable planet Horca.

You have to find bits of a crashed spacecraft, reassemble it and rescue the crew scattered around the planets surface. Alien droids and other weird nasties want to stop you of course.

The first task is to find a Federation Property Detector which will show you the whereabouts of the factory droid which is carrying a bit of the lost space craft.

You have to destroy the factory droid in order to recover the part.

The detectors are cubes with flashing panels on the front. Don't be fooled into thinking that they are the transistor radio thingies which you come across like I was. I spent ages trying to pick the **?!s up!

Once you've got a detector you can see where the factory droid is hiding and set off in pursuit. The alien creatures can steal your detector away so watch our for the ones that look like nuclear particles!

If you lose on you have to start looking for another before you can proceed. There are quite a few scattered around, fortunately.

Shooting alien droids can have one of two effects. They either transform into energy giving pods which you can collect to give Orbix more essential power, or they turn into deadly mines which vaporise your craft at the merest touch.

Once you've tracked down a factory droid and destroyed it you pick up the part and race back to the launch pad at the centre of the planet. Why? Because the bit you've just collected is booby-trapped and you have just 90 seconds yo get it back before it detonates.

The launch pad area has a built in neutraliser which renders the booby trap useless. There are six bits of the craft to find and eight spacemen to rescue. You score points for picking them up, shooting aliens, picking up detectors and collecting energy.

The graphics are nice - maybe a bit on the small side. The multi-directional scrolling reminds you of Durell's Critical Mass - but Orbix is far more playable than that game.

Orbix bounces around really smoothly and the landscape is animated as well. Things move up and down. Trap doors mysteriously open to capture an unwary Orbix pilot. And then there're the mysterious spider creatures who sometimes are useful in blocking enemy fire, and always useful if you're low on energy, Shoot a spider - the insect you can eat between meals.

You can call up a map of the planet by hitting a key - this also acts as a pause mode, and you can also access a short range radar screen to help you collect stranded spacemen.

It's essential to make good use of the small radar screen in the centre of your instrument panel. This show you where the detectors are, where the factory droids are, and where the launch pad is, in that order during different stages of the game.

Orbix isn't a brilliant game - but it's not a naff one either. Sometimes frustrating but always playable. Orbix is good debut for programmer John Pragnell and the Streetwise label.


Graphics7/10
Sound7/10
Value8/10
Playability7/10
Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Computer Issue January 1987   page(s) 50

Spectrum
Streetwise
Arcade
£7.95

Streetwise is a new label from Domark, the company that brought you Trivial Pursuits. Apparently it has been created to allow Domark to stick to releasing high-profile game such as Trivial Pursuit, which incidentally has just had 3,000 new questions released, and Streetwise will release games that have no tie-in, but are more arcade orientated.

Orbix the Terrorball was created by Domark's only in-house programmer, John Pragnell, with help from designer Mike Green and software manager Richard Naylor. With inspiration taken from a variety of games, ranging from basic shoot-'em-ups to Bobby Bearing type Marble Madness Clones, Orbix is publicised as a 'bouncing shoot-'em-up, with some unique touches'.

Your mission is to rescue the stranded crew of a distressed space craft lying on a hostile planet, in this case Horca. The planet is literally littered (if you'll excuse the literal) with various menacing insect-like aliens, who ate the spacecraft and forced the crew to flee. You must first rebuild the craft, and then pick up the crew and escape.

With a powerful gun, and a great deal of determination, you must blast these aliens and then pick up the little object they leave behind after death. Avoiding holes, as well as some very clever critters, you must fight to stay alive.

Graphically, Orbix is very pretty, and the joystick control is good, if a little difficult to get used to. When you compare it to games such as Friday the 13th, one of Domark and this industries worst ever games, it becomes obvious that Streetwise is a great improvement.


Graphics4/5
Sound3/5
Playability4/5
Value For Money3/5
Overall4/5
Transcript by Chris Bourne

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