Format reviewed: Commodore 16/Plus4
Publisher: English Software
Developer: Jon Williams
Submitted by: Barry Flowers
There's a time disturbance that's been traced to a distant planet with 3 time zones each with 12 time orbs. Your mission is to destroy all 36 orbs and synchronise time in all three zones to 00:00 hours within 24 hours, or else!!
Right that's the vague plot out the way. Now onto the game itself.
This is basically a split-screen shoot-em-up. There are 3 left to right scrolling play areas to beat and all three are layered underneath each other on the same screen.
From the top.
Zone1: The planet surface, with you in your starfighter.
Zone2: An underground cavern with you on a jetpack
Zone3: A submarine mission.
All 3 zones has the same objective, destroy the orbs and reset time down to 00:00 hours. You play zones individually and can switch screens at will leaving the other two frozen in time.
You have to be quick though as you only have 24 earth hours to complete your mission, but as there is a time disturbance it ticks down a lot quicker here. You also move at a constant non-variable speed and many of the stationary obstacles are unavoidable so must be quickly shot down to progress any further. Crashing into an obstacle results in loss of time, this varies from 15mins to 45mins depending on one of the three difficulty levels you choose before the game begins.
If you crash 5 times (there are no set lives in this game), a timeslip occurs shifting the timeclock in all 3 zones. So if one timezone was down to zero, chances are you'll find yourself having to go back there to reset again.
Fortunately you can gain more mission time by destroying certain bonuses. If you manage to destroy all 36 orbs and reset time in all 3 zones down to 00:00 hours then the mission is complete and you start off all over again on increased difficulty. If normal earth time reaches zero before you can complete your mission then it's game over.
If all this sounds complicated to you, really it isn't. As for the game itself, is it any good?
Fortunately it's nothing short of fantastic. What will immediately strike you first are the good-looking largely detailed graphics and makes excellent usage of the C16/+4 extended colour pallete.
The collision detection is also very good, but it is a very tight game to maneuver your man through so timing is critical. Fortunately you also have autofire which sends a continuous hail of bullets flying which makes things a lot easier.
The split-screen scrolling rolls along very smoothly at a nice pacey speed, and with so much going on there is no slowdown to the game at all. The spot sound effects are also very good which gives a nice arcade feel.
The game is immediately playable from the start and hookability is high, lastability is even higher. Although it is a fairly tough challenge (even on Novice), it is completable (no game should be too easy). Be warned though, this is a game which will test your dexterity skills to the limit.
This is one of the most good looking and enjoyable blasters you'll ever find for the C16/+4. It is also one of the most original I've seen on any system and it's only available for the 264 series.
So to end this review on a bad pun, it's a timeless classic.
You can watch the full longplay video HERE!