Time Machine
by Vivid Image: Mevlut Dinc, Raffaele Cecco, Hugh Riley
Activision Inc
Crash Issue 80, September 1990   (1990-08-23)   page(s) 42

Professor Potts is your archetypal mad scientist: a tall, awkward, gangly man who has a shock of untidy hair and wears a lab coat. He also owns a time machine. It's not very pretty but it serves its purpose, or rather it did until a bunch of terrorists tried to blow it up. Fortunately they didn't succeed, but unfortunately the bomb hit a vital accelerator crystal and threw the Prof into the past.

With five time zones to travel through, the ultimate aim is to traverse the ages and return to present day (ie: ten million years in the future) and get to the time machine before the terrorists do (confused yet?). To complete each time zone the Prof has to perform a special task. In zone one, one of the problems is to protect man's ancestors from the elements by rounding them up, keeping them in a cave and lighting a fire. How else are they to survive the Ice Age?! Remember though, your actions in one time zone can affect the future of the human race - evolution is in your hands.

On the status panel is a block made up of 25 rectangles - representing a map of the five time zones with five screens in each. When everything is okay the map is green, when trouble brews the affected block turns red, when this happens leg it to the relevant screen pronto. With five zones to patrol the Prof's legs soon get tired, but fear not: four travel pods allow Prof Potts to zip around righting wrongs and generally making sure that mankind's future is safe.

Besides natural obstacles, the occupants of each time zone try to kill you. All you have for protection is a controller device, it stuns attackers and thus allows you to escape. And escape you must if you are to return home!

Programmed by Raff 'Cybernoid' Cecco, Time Machine is the bees knees (and other parts perhaps) of arcade adventures. The puzzle element is pitched at just the right level (mildly frustrating), so sit and think about a problem, don't just hurl yourself out the nearest window. Graphically it's a winner too, with sound just as good with a title tune and spot effects. In short, if you want an ace arcade puzzle game look no further than this.

MARK ... 91%

'This time travel lark has been popular for a long time, Marty and Doc Brown in Back To The Future and Doctor Who managed to travel through time and space with ease, so why not Prof Potts? The first level is difficult enough, but when you move to other time zones and discover that your actions in previous levels may affect later developments it's straight jackets ahoy time! But the game is very good indeed, so your Speccy isn't in too much danger of being smashed to pieces. All the sprites are big with lots of animation and potts (ho, ho) of colour. Time Machine is one of the best arcade/strategy games around.'
NICK ... 90%

Summary: Refreshingly different: a colourful action game with plenty of brain-blending puzzles.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 58, October 1990   page(s) 53

Looks like it's going to take me absolutely ages to explain what The Time Machine is all about (seeing as it's so stonkingly complicated), so I'm afraid there just won't be any room for one of my usual witty introductions. Quel shame, eh, readers?

Come to think of it, I couldn't really think of one anyway, but let's not waste any more time wibbling on aimlessly - I'll get straight into explaining mode instead. Right, the whole shebang's a bit of a Back To The Future affair really, with you (stepping into the shoes of one Professor Potts) stuck in the past (after accidentally falling into some spooky sort of time warp thingy) and attempting to get (ahem) back to the future. Unfortunately, you've left your time machine at home (it's been blown up actually, in the explosion that created the time warp) so you have to effectively 'create' time so that everything that should happen does happen and the present, as you knew it, will eventually exist. You'll then be able to get back and stop the terrorists from bombing your time machine in the first place. (Or something like that anyway.)

Okay, so there are five time zones (the Prehistoric Age, the Ice Age, the Stone Age, the Iron Age and the Present, ie now) to work your way through, with you starting in the Prehistoric zone and then having to create all the others as you go along. Understand? No, didn't think so. Look, I'll explain again. You start in the Prehistoric age, right? Your job is to somehow help this time zone to become the Ice Age, otherwise the present day will never exist. But how? Well, an Ice Age needs to be cold, dunnit (hence all that ice and snow and stuff)? So if you can somehow work out how to cool down the Prehistoric Age then you've got yourself the Ice Age. You'll then have two zones (ie the Prehistoric Age and the Ice Age), which you can jump between at will. Work out how to warm up the Ice Age and, lo and behold, you'll get a third zone - the Stone Age, to be exact. And so it goes on (and on).

However (and this is where it may start to get confusing) you have to keep popping back to check on all the zones you've already created, otherwise you might find yourself back at the beginning again. How so? Well, for instance, if the cooled Prehistoric zone starts warming up, then the Ice Age will never come about, and all subsequent zones will cease to exist. And what a pickle you'd be in then, eh? You'd have to start all over again. (Except it won't be as bad because you can just do whatever it was you did to create the Ice Age in the first place again to bring everything back. Phew.)

Right then. Perhaps I should mention what the game looks like. Well, it's a sort of arcade adventure thing with a five flip-screens-long playing area. The same five locations appear in each time zone, though they do look a bit different each time of course (due to the passage of time etc). A grid thing at the top of the screen shows which zones you've created, and a red rectangle indicates if there's something unsafe or changing on that particular screen to give you a bit of 'help'. To complete each zone you have to manipulate evolution so that everything happens the way it should. I won't tell you exactly what you have to do, but it basically involves walking around the screens picking up objects and using them where appropriate. Need some wood, for instance? Then why not plant an apple in the Stone Age - it'll have grown into a tree by later on in the game.

Throughout the levels there are other characters who you can interact with. For example, in the Ice Age there's this big yeti bloke who'll keep on hitting you (thus draining your energy). But then again, who can blame the poor chap - you're trying to destroy his home! Perhaps a prezzy would make him a bit happier (and keep him out of your hair?). There are also these little furry little teddy-bear mammals who you've got to look after to ensure that they don't become extinct - otherwise humans will never evolve from them and you'll be right in 'it'.

Right, I've almost finished (phew). Better just quickly mention your four re-usable travel pods which you can drop wherever you want, and then teleport to - v useful. Oh, and I might even mention your gun (which you can stun things with) if there's room. And, erm, blimey. This is getting worryingly confusing. I hope you can understand what I've been dribbling on about (unlikely), but in case you haven't I'll sum it up in a couple of words. Erm, it's good. In fact, it might even be very good, and it's certainly like nothing else you've seen before. It could quite easily have been a massive flop, but I don't think it will be because it's been so well thought out. In fact, I think it can have a Megagame if it behaves itself.

Life Expectancy68%
Instant Appeal80%
Summary: A completely different yet completely brilliant number. Hurrah!

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 104, October 1990   page(s) 20,21

What time is it when a elephant sits on your fence? Time to buy a bloody great shotgun and blow its brains out! Ha! (okayokayokay guys - apologies to the RSPCA, the World Wildlife Campaign, The Kenyan Orphan Elephant appeal and all disabled elephants everywhere).

So, moving on quickly, it's also time to take a look at Vivid Images latest offering Time Machine, their sequel to the excellent Hammerfist...

The barmy professor Potts has concocted a machine that can scoot around in time - useful for doing the pools eh? Problem being, the only thing that is officially dafter than old Potts is that well known species of pest - Internationalious Terroristus. There suckers are harder to wipe out than a cockroach with a bagful of chemical weapons (ring any bells that?). Well they bomb the barmy old duffer and send him and his machine spirallng back in time to yer actual prehistory (innit?) and his machine with him which slips a cog on the way and looses its power crystal.

Potts must painstakingly help the evolution of the planet through five different time zones by manipulating objects and thereby gently nudging the processes involved to help make the transition to the next piece of history.

Each period of time has five sub sections, each with a particular puzzle that has to be worked out. Some things that are done at lower levels will not have their desired effect until a couple of time zones later and you must work the problems out by trial and error.

Help is provided along the way by the Time Zone monitor - a 25 box grid that has a single spot that shows where Potts is at any one time and a red border colour for time zones that are having problems. Oh yes, during the game, things can happen in previous time zones that affect the stability of later levels. You must return to that zone and put to rights all that's gone wrong meaning that Pott's must continually skip back into the past to keep the delicate fabric of time intact. Luckily he has four transporter devices that he can transport between to cut down on travelling time.

Time Machine is an absorbing and innovative game with excellent mono graphics. It just remains to be seen if people will be adventurous enough to put their hands in their pockets. And for that, only time will tell.

Label: Vivid Image
Price: £9.95
Reviewer: Garth Sumpter

Summary: Innovative idea translated to the Spectrum with excellent grafix. A brain buster!

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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