Format reviewed: Commodore 64
Publisher: Virgin Interactive
Developer: Gang Of Five
Have you ever had the feeling that you got into something at the wrong time? For me, that was the Dan Dare experience. As a kid, I had Dan Dare II: Mekon’s Revenge, an exciting but overly difficult shoot-’em-up – and as I was told repeatedly, a game that just didn’t compare to the original platform adventure. But any further attempts to get into Dan Dare proved fruitless, as the C64 market had wound down and the original couldn’t be found, and the Eagle comics in which he originated had recently been discontinued.
Some years later, I was able to play the original Dan Dare: Pilot Of The Future. Not only was it as superior to the sequel as I’d been told, it was a real winner. It didn’t do much differently to other platform adventures, requiring you to find items to use in specific situations to progress. However, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the comic-style presentation in which text boxes narrate Dan’s actions as he goes about the business of infiltrating a base, punching Treens and foiling the Mekon’s deadly plans. Why this hasn’t been ripped off more frequently, I’ll never know – by comparison, the sequel’s presentation just looks like a standard computer game.
Had I been born just a few years earlier, I’m pretty sure this game would have been my first step on the road to becoming a hardcore Dan Dare fan. As it stands though, I just got to the party a little too late.