Complete Guide To Spectrum Games – Part 18

So, the end of the world finally happened. Travel is impossible. Entertainment industries are falling apart. Pubs and clubs are dens of oppression upon which Big Brother’s eye is permanently focused. On the plus side, with every possible way of procrastinating taken care of I can get back to reviewing every Spectrum game ever. Swings and roundabouts, eh?

AndroidePixelSoftware, 2014

It turns out that it’s been so long since the last installment that a new game’s snuck into the list. After last time’s Androide, how does PixelSoftware’s game of the same name look?

Androide - Pixelsoft, 2014

Well that’s a nice surprise – it looks like a proper game! You play as some sort of tracked robot with impressive jumping ability, with an indeterminate goal that takes you on a flip-screen adventure. There are enemies to dodge, and some you can jump on, and sometimes there are floating platforms that I initially mistook for enemies. There’s also ammunition for the empty gun you start out with, although the enemies I wanted to shoot appeared to be indestructible anyway, so I guess the gun is just supposed to make you feel better rather than be of any use.

Androide - Pixelsoft, 2014

The sound is a little sparse. There’s a decent menu tune, and a few squeaks and bloops while you play. Overall, this is the gentlest reintroduction to this exercise in windmill-tilting I could ever have hoped for.

Android NimRichard Francis Altwasser, 1982

Oh, here we go.

Android Nim

This looks alright, but it’s beeping. It does this after the computer takes a turn, and after you take a turn.

Now I remember why I stopped doing this…

Android OneVortex, 1983

Ah, I’m saved! Vortex made some great games, I should actually enjoy this one…

Android One

Oh no. This doesn’t bode well. Well, four pages of instructions with introductory beeping later, I’m none the wiser but ready to start.

Android One

And it gets worse. I’m not averse to rotational controls. In racing games they make sense – you’re steering the car. In an almost viewed-from-above maze game that demands quick reactions to take out the many, many, many enemies that are on-screen, they make a lot less sense. Imagine trying to play Gauntlet with rotational controls – you’d want the designer shot into the sun post-haste. Android One takes it that step further, by giving you wonky controls as well. The top row of the keyboard rotates you counter-clockwise, the second row rotates you clockwise, and the third row moves you forward.

Oh, and when you run out of lives the game breaks out to BASIC and crashes the Spectrum. At least that saves me the trouble of having a second go…

Android Pit RescueAbacus Programs, 1982

It won’t stop beeping.

Android Pit Rescue

Despite that, it’s actually quite playable. You play a terribly-looking android that has to (perhaps unsurprisingly) rescue people from a pit. Dodging randomly-occuring waterfalls, you have to work your way around the maze and evacuate the people one at a time. It’s a very simple BASIC game, but it’s a nice little distraction. In fact, you can solve its biggest flaw by knocking out line 111 (followed by RUN 6) – that simultaneously stops the incessant beeping and makes the player input more responsive.

This is one of those games that doesn’t live up to its potential. With better graphics, sound, and maybe a proper structure to the game (rather than points) people might still be talking about it today.

Android TwoVortex, 1984

Oh, come on. What did I do to deserve two of these things in one go? Alright, let’s get it over with…

Android Two

More beeping… and then it crashed. Maybe… I could call this a win, right? Maybe the universe has taken pity on me and spared me the suffering of another terrible game. Ah, but I owe it to you, dear readers, to at least try loading it in 48K mode. Here goes…

Android Two

What the heck is this? A 3D-looking maze? A character that sprints around? DIRECTIONAL CONTROLS?!

So, Android Two fixes every problem the first game had. It’s smooth, fast, and looks great. However, it also adds a new problem – indestructible enemies. By far the most common enemy you’ll encounter is immune to your gun. And there are a lot of them. And despite the improved controls, it can be tricky to get down some of those very narrow corridors. And when indestructible enemies are patrolling them too, you’ve got very little chance of getting through unscathed. I suspect that even with hours of practice I’d never get very far in this game.

Looks amazing though.

And that’s it – we’ve reached the end of this installment of the Complete Guide. Tune in next time, in 2028, when we continue to look at games beginning with A!

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