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Deflektor

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Released: 1987

Genre: Puzzle

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: Gremlin Graphics

Developer: Vortex Software

Often, innovative games can look tired as the years go by. If an original game attracts any kind of attention, it’s usually not long before the imitators emerge and the sequel machine kicks into action. Inevitably, some of those will improve upon the original and the genre will develop until the original game looks rather plain indeed. If you don’t believe us, try playing the original Street Fighter some time. However, some games received little enough elaboration that they became immune to this effect, and Deflektor was one of them.

Deflektor is the kind of puzzle game you’ll try to approach methodically at first, as the laser beam needs to take some very complex paths to destroy all the nodes required to clear each stage. However, the energy bar which serves to limit your time drains quite quickly, and if the overload bar begins to fill because you’ve directed your beam at some spikes or back at its source, you’ll need to act quickly to prevent yourself from losing a life and starting again. As a result, it’s much more of an action-puzzler than it would appear to be.

Though it was well-received by the press and publisher Gremlin Graphics later did the very similar game Mindbender, clones and copies of Deflektor weren’t common in the market, which helps it feel magnificently fresh today. In fact, the idea is so good that lots of iOS and Android developers seem to be drawing inspiration from it, so savour that fresh feeling while you can.