OK, try to remain calm when I tell you this.
There's a great big asteroid heading towards Earth, it's almost here and if it hits there'll never be another series of EastEnders.
But there's no need to panic. If Albert Eyestrain, the famous scientific misspelling, can be found we're in with a chance. But this may be easier said than done, for Albert's warnings of the impending asteroid were ignored many years ago and now he's taken himself off to the desert in a fit of pique.
Five explorers gather together to formulate a plan. Only one of them can go to locate the lost scientist, but who shall it be? Should it be Fortisque-Smithe, Herr Krusche, Wu Pong, Big John Caine or Henri Beaucoup? Each has different strengths and weaknesses befitting their different characters and nationalities.
After one of these tine upstanding men has been chosen, he is dropped into the ruggedness of a mountainous chain. Now he must set about the task of finding the missing genius in the surrounding wilderness riddled with underground caverns.
The terrain is filled with puzzles that can befuddle the brain of any explorer. But helpful items are scattered about the horizontally-scrolling screens. These accessories include a vacuum cleaner, which on certain screens allows you to fly up into the clouds; a flute to charm the scales off certain types of reptiles; large bellows; and political manifestoes (full of hot air - literally).
When these are gathered, they appear in an acquisition box at the bottom of the screen - and if they're not wanted immediately they can be transferred to the heads of an accompanying team of native bearers.
Sometimes the explorer himself will suggest items that are needed to progress, but be warned - half the time he's mistaken.
And there are many traps for the unwary explorer. He can easily fall foul of a venomous rock snake.
Even if the missing scientist is discovered he must still be persuaded to help save the world. If he accepts this awesome challenge, all the equipment he needs - a large red disk, an antenna, a battery and an atomic pile - must be found. When all this has been collected the prof can construct his Positronic Asteroid Deflector.
But before he can do anything else he must have a cup of piping hot tea...
With the Deflector finally complete, our intrepid hero uses it as a giant pinball machine. With a flip the asteroid can be flicked away from Earth and out into empty space, keeping the world safe and free for decent arcade adventures.
Joysticks: Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: monochrome, but very detailed drawing and animation
Sound: superb 128 tune by Ben Daglish throughout game
Options: choose to play any one of six characters
'It's ages since we've seen a platform game as basic as this. Terramex could be quite good - Ben Daglish's continuous tune is excellent, making the best of the 128's sound chip - but despite cute and excellently-coloured graphics there's little to enjoy in Terramex. And it suffers from chronic Jet Set Willy syndrome: losing life in some places results in multiple deaths, which is both annoying and, I think, the result of dubious screen design. Terramex might be worth a couple of quid for the tune and graphics, but not much more.'
MIKE ... 58%
'There's plenty to do in Terramex and the hazards encountered are detailed and well-positioned. It's fun, too - I just love bouncing over things and flying around on vacuum cleaners and hot-air balloons. Terramex is a welcome alternative to the usual dull arcade adventure.'
NATHAN ... 92%
'Certainly a case of warped humour here: using a party manifesto's hot air to inflate an air balloon?! Terramex has so many sweet touches it's unbelievable. And there's so much attention to fine detail, yet no clutter. A contorted mind won't go amiss in playing Terramex, so be prepared for some hard working-out.'
BYM ... 80%
Grand Slam? Wossat? Turns out, rancheros, that this is the brand new name and corporate style of dear Ol' Argus Press Software - and much do they need it, I hear you cry. 'Cos let's face it, the standard of games from that much knocked software house has scarcely been Olympian in the past couple of years. (Remember The Tube? Grange Hill?) But Stephen Hall, the MD, liked the company so much that he bought it (a la Victor Kiam), and he's pledged that in future things will be very different. And I for one am prepared to believe him if Terramex is anything to go by.
As you know, I'm a bit of an arcade adventure man, and the current lack of same on Speccy is a source of great sadness to me. Boo hoo. I mean, you can't go on playing Head Over Heels forever, can you? So this one's than a little welcome in Berkmann Towers, and a right cracker it is too.
Your mission is a fairly perilous one, certainly The world's under threat from an enormous asteroid, that has foolishly chosen to head in this direction. Unfortunately the one bozo who can save us all is a certain Dr Albert Eyestrain, a wacky genius who disappeared into self-imposed exile when his prediction of the forthcoming KER-BOOM! was met by universal indifference. Result: you are parachuted into a rugged desert landscape, and it's up to you to find the old barmpot and put together the pieces of his Positronic Asteroid Deflector.
What it all comes down to, then, is our old chum Problem Solving, so I shan't give too much away. But essentially, you've got to find your way around a maze of screens, and pick up any objects hanging around. You can play one of five characters - an Englishman, a Frenchman, a German, an American or a Japanese - and the problems change slightly depending on which one you pick.
This bald description, though, cannot possibly do justice to such a complex and subtle game, and this thinx I, has a smidgeon or two to do with the chaps who dreamt it up to whit, Teque Productions. This is the Gremlin breakaway of Shaun Hollingsworth and Peter Harrap, the programmers who gave us the Monty games - including, of course, our very own Moley Christmas. This game's much in the same line of fire - loads of jumping about avoiding things and trying to work out what the heck's going on.
As usual with Shaun and Pete's games, Terramex (awful title, doncha think?) is crammed full of jokes and atmosphere. If you try and push your little helper over the sort of precipice he'd rather not go over, he'll shake his head two or three times before venturing any further. Sometimes, as for instance when you're trying to get the barrel near the start, this hesitation can be fatal. All your booty is carried by a line of bearers (bottom right in the display) who can be scrolled from left to right as you decide which implement you need to use at any one point. And to give you a hand, there's a think key (T) when you're wondering what to do next - although this has been known to tell you serious porkies, so take what it says with a barrelful of Saxa.
Naturally it's viciously hard to get anywhere much, though like all the best games its not too tricky to get going. And there's enough of it all to keep you going for more than a couple of loads, so it does a bit more than just look pretty. I've sussed a few things out so far - mainly that a fair number of the objects don't count for much, but you may as well pick them all up anyway. Oh, and that thing that looks like an outside privy on the far side of the scrolling landscape is in fact a balloon and basket. And whaddya need to make it fly? All I can say is, don't try the party manifesto, even it it is mostly hot air! Haw haw.
So, a great start for Grand Slam - even if all they've done is hire the right people to do the job. But isn't that what delegation is all about? Phil, make me a cup of coffee...
|Value For Money||9/10|
Oi remember a woile 'go, well, mus' be o'er twenny yeres now, me pal tol' me 'bout some mad feller called Professer Eyestrain or sommink. Any road, he claimed that some asteroid was gonner hit the Earth in twenny years time. Course, no one believed him. Oi only bring it up now, because some geezers have just come into the pub, talking about some asteroid going to pummel the planet. Bit of a coincidence, eh? I wonder what happened to the Prof, anyway... (excuse me Tony why have you started this review talking like John Riglar? ...Ed).
Anyway turns out the prof was right, and you got to play one of 5 chosen adventurers who have to find him pronto. At the start of the game you are presented with 5 character icons and must choose which one you wish to play. Each character is a well known national stereotype. For example, should you choose Herr Krusche, your little computerised figure will appear resplendent in full World War 1 German battle gear, complete with spiky helmet and big square chin. Other characters are done likewise, with the American dressed in wild west attire and the Chinese Wu Pong done up as a Japanese tourist, complete with camera. Ho Ho - on with the game.
Your mission, chummy, is divided into 3 stages. First you parachute into an uncharted area of desert, infested with buzzards and snakes. The buzzards don't pose too much of a problem as they merely fly around overhead a lot, and occasionally eat you when you mistime a jump. The snakes, however, cause a great deal of sleepless nights. There are 2 sorts of snakes in this part of the desert. The completely deadly ones that sit on the ground in full view and jump at you when you go past, crushing you to death, and there are the completely deadly ones that hide in rocks and bite when you go past. Pretty nasty, eh? Still you are not completely defenceless. Various useful items are scattered about the place, such as vacuum cleaners that make you fly and flutes that can charm snakes. Once collected, they appear on a 'grid' of available objects. Now, this is clever, simply cycle through the items on the menu and select the one you want, and, get this, for the first time in gaming history, the item you choose actually makes a difference to the character shape. For example, if you select the flute, and your on-screen counterpart bounces around with a flute in his gob.
I love the graphics of the game. The main character though small, is beautifully designed and superbly clear. The animation is the best cartoon quality I've seen. Watch when you try to get him to do something he doesn't want to do - he'll stop, look out at you and shake his head in the best Moonlighting tradition. The backdrops are amazing, with beautifully detailed deserts, caverns and heavenly clouds. Which brings me very nicely to the second stage of your mission.
After parachuting into the desert, you must find the Prof and convince him to save the earth (Surely he needs no encouragement?). Then you must find the pieces to make up the Positronic Asteroid Deflector (P.A.D. for short). And in the 3rd section of the mission you have to somehow make it work...
It's a big game, with over 140 screens, none of them 'fillers' and some of them utterly fiendish. A lot of logical thought is needed to get really deeply into the game as you fiddle what different items and try to figure out what their purpose is. All this and a high standard of playability make this one of the best buys of 88 so far.
Label: Grandslam Entertainments
Author: Sean Hollingworth, Peter Harrap
Reviewer: Tony Dillon
MACHINES: Atari ST/Amiga/CBM 64/128/Spectrum/Amstrad/MSX
VERSIONS TESTED: ST/Amiga/Spectrum
There's a touch of the phoenix about Argus and its associated labels these days. Since the management buyout, they've put out the excellent Hunt for Red October and now Terramex.
For my money Red October is by far the superior game. Terramex, however pretty it may look on the ST and Amiga, is perhaps a little run of the mill in the originality stakes. But it will re-enforce revival prospects.
What we have here is an humorous arcade adventure involving the search for an elusive scientist who has the power to save the world from an untimely date with a meteor.
The scientist, Dr Albert Eyestrain, had predicted this disaster but was greeted with scorn. In a huff, Eyestrain disappeared.
You play the part of one of the five explorers who must find the missing doctor. The game is in two parts, the first of which centres on the search for the Eyestrain, and the second finding the parts of the Positronic Asteroid Deflector.
The five explorers, each of a different nationality, Wilbur Fortisque-Smithe, British, Herr Wolfgang Schmuck, German, Wu Pong, Japanese (sounds more like a Chinaman, don't think?), Big John Caine, American, Henri Beaucoup, French.
The many objects and useful items which are scattered around the playing area can be used to great effect by all of the explorers. But there are certain items which will be of particular use to various nationalities.
For example, Wu Pang, the Japanese guy, will find the camera and flashgun helpful. I think you can use it for stunning rock-snakes. And Wilbur Fortisque-Smithe could find the cricket ball helpful. What more useful item for an Englishman, eh?
The graphics on the 16-bit machines are excellent, There are also nice touches to the game play. For example, if your character is asked to carry out a dangerous jump he shakes his head. But stick with it and he'll eventually jump.
You'll soon pick up various dos and don'ts. Do use a brolly before jumping off anything.
Don't forget to use a brolly before jumping off anything and the vacuum cleaner allows you to fly up in to the clouds. Do beware of the snakes that lurk behind rocks.
Your explorer is accompanied by native bearers who carry all the objects and items found.
The Spectrum version is also very playable but a I suppose this is a bit unfair to compare Spectrum versions with the ST and Amiga - suffers in comparison.
Not the most original game but let's hope it's a portent of good games to come from Argus/Quicksilva.
Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £8.95
Commodore 64/128 Cassette: £9.95, Diskette: £14.95
Amstrad CPC Cassette: £9.95, Diskette: £13.95
Atari ST Diskette: £19.95
When he finished making The Devils, film director Ken Russell turned to The Boyfriend - a light-hearted musical set in the Twenties. His reason for the change was that the gruesome horror of The Devils had upset him so much. A similar reason has been given by the designers of Terramex, who having finished Death Wish III, wanted to do something of gentle fun. They are Pete (Monty Mole) Harrap and Shaun Hollingworth - for several years associated with Gremlin Graphics, but now part of Teque Software Development.
Doctor Albert Eyestrain, of renowned eccentricity, has predicted that a large and rather solid asteroid is on a collision course with Earth - and it seems he is right. An international band of five intrepid explorers are meeting to stop this calamity. The five all agree that if one explorer can locate Doctor Eyestrain, maybe he can save Earth. But the odd doc is a recluse, hidden in a secret laboratory in the wilderness.
One of the explorers (chosen at the beginning of the game) needs to scour the wilderness, collecting all sorts of objects ranging from umbrellas and unicycles to vacuum cleaners and even a party manifesto (!). All these serve some purpose in the game, but there are some red herrings around too. So the first task really is to look for whatever there is and find out just what it does for your mission.
The wilderness is a vicious place, infested with venomous rock snakes that leap out at you, acid rain clouds and the Terramex of the title (strange Pterodactyl-like creatures). Running into any means losing the explorer one of three lives. Sheer drops also lie in wait for careless explorers to fall down (although a certain object - no prizes for guessing which - does help by softening the landing).
Objects collected are carried by bearers (more cause for Mel Croucher in his battle against racial discrimination), pygmies who appear in the status display carrying the objects collected. As the game progresses, hazards and obstacles are overcome by using the correct object - the flute charms some snakes, but what about the Acme suit case?
A lot of the evident humour in the game is familiar in strain as being pure Pete Harrap, and Terramex is full of the mean tricks which characterised the Monty Mole series. For instance, there is a Think option for those awkward moments when the explorer is nonplussed, but it isn't always right! The five explorers are slightly different in behaviour, some refuse to do a particularly dangerous task, standing firm and shaking their head. But try persevering.
Eventually reaching the Doc's secret laboratory, where he paces up and down, checking dials and twiddling knobs, a Positronic Asteroid Deflector (PAD for short) must be constructed. Doc Eyestrain requires several items including cups of tea, a battery and your average atomic pile. Collect the items in the correct order and the PAD slowly takes shape. Once complete, it is up to you to use your pinball skills and deflect the asteroid away towards some other hapless planet.
Even if on completed, there are still four more routes to take, as each explorer needs different methods and different objects to pass obstacles and achieve goals. The Frenchman Henri Beaucoup has to use a unicycle at one point whilst the German, Herr Wolfgang Schmuck, has to engage in bier drinking competitions. The arcade adventure has been played to death over the past few years but Terramex brings back the long-lost humour (last seen in Jet Set Willy).
Across the various formats and reviewers, we have to report, there have been serious disagreements as to the game's merits, and it is only fair to add here, that the ratings given must inevitably reflect personal prejudices for or against the notion of a platform-style arcade adventure. Terramex is intended to be fun, it is very much of a cartoon nature, with humorous graphics and some neat effects (try loading the cannon with too much gunpowder). Trying to conquer puzzles that pop up and finding out what objects do is an adventure in itself. Most are relatively straightforward but some are positively obscure. It is hard to avoid invidious comparison, but for players who enjoy the Monty Mole/Jet Set Willy game notion with some fiendish puzzles, Terramex should prove highly popular.
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