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Free Fall

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Released: 1984

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: BBC Micro

Publisher: Acornsoft

Developer: Ian Bell

Submitted by: Sureshot

NASA: pioneers of intergalactic exploration, masters of the stars and the last hope of Star Trek fans hoping that alien warp-drives are discovered on one their expeditions so we can all wax our heads and fly around the universe shouting ‘engage!’ from oversized armchairs.

But why do they do it? Anyone who’s seen a sci-fi flick from the last 40-odd years knows that no good can come of space travel – it’s all bad. Alien overlords, humanity-destroying viruses and replicators that give you a bucket when you ask for black coffee.

In 1984, Free Fall gave us another great reason to take that bunch of space cowboys in Washington off our Christmas card lists for good.

Here’s the situation – you’re sitting in Deep Space Station Corolis, somewhere in a NASA-discovered galaxy. You turn the page of the seedy tabloid you’re reading – The Daily Class W: Wolf-Rayet Star – while the NASA-discovered warp-drive hums in the background. As you take a sip of your NASA-issue coffee, you notice someone suddenly drop to the ground in front of you, then another, and another. Sensing these people were doing more than just taking an unscheduled nap, you quickly throw on the spacesuit conveniently draped over the back of your chair.

Now let’s cut to the chase – everyone but you died, the crew-gassing culprits were the fearsome Alphoid invaders who are now streaming in through the airlock and there are vital computer records on-board to protect.

In the octagonal area of Free Fall, you must destroy the Alphoids with only your fists and feet while using your air-supply to jet around in the unstable rotational-gravity. Craboids, Lobstoids, Batoids and Waspoids are all foes you will encounter, each with their own methods of attack, but things become a little easier with the help of emerging bombs – just remember: explosions hurt!

If you do take one to the face, the game’s up. You can also perish by catching the brunt of a critical Alphoid hit, at which point your convulsing body drains the remaining oxygen from your suit and you become just another forgotten casualty of deep space.

And we all know whose fault that is.