Agent X

by John P. Tatlock, Steven Tatlock, Tim Follin, Gremlin [2]
Mastertronic Ltd
Crash Issue 37, Feb 1987   page(s) 117

Producer: Mastertronic
Retail Price: £1.99
Author: Steven Tatlock

A mad professor has run off with the President of the United States, planning to brainwash him and start World War Three. Agent X, being the best available, has been selected by the World Powers to make a rescue attempt.

The four stages to the mission are loaded separately from the B side of the cassette. A window below the main playing area shows the trench-coated figure of Agent X on a path that leads to a tombstone. Each time a mistake is made the figure takes another step towards the grave, but Agent X gains a little bit of life force when a new stage of the game begins. A vertical bar on the right-hand side of the screen indicates how close our hero is to completing the current section.

Agent X starts out at the wheel of a car which travels along a diagonally scrolling roadway. This vehicle is under continual attack from other road users who try and nudge it into the kerb or trap it behind obstacles. Being a Secret Agent's car, it is capable of leaping into the air to avoid crashes. At the end of the road the car stops outside a mine...

In the mine, Agent X is seen for the first time in all his glory, complete with trench coat, drooping fag and pork pie hat. He's on foot and makes his way along a horizontally scrolling tunnel, jumping over runaway trolleys that trundle along the floor. The professor's evil minions approach from the left and right and must be kicked or punched out of the way if they get their blow in first, Agent X is sent flying off the screen and the little figure gets a bit closer to that tombstone.

Level Three finds Agent X inside the professor's lair. From the security of a fortified compound, the mad scientist hurts missiles at our hero. Objects are propelled towards the agent from eight doors at the back of the screen which open at random to disgorge a projectile. A cross-hair sight is moved around the screen to target Agent X's gun, and the professor's projectiles have to be shot out of the air. When the bad boffin's stock of missiles is exhausted, you get a shot at the evil kidnapper before moving on to the final level.

To conclude the mission Agent X has to fly a helicopter through a cave system avoiding missiles and crusher bars that move, pincer-like, from floor and ceiling. The cave opens onto the sea, where the professor has constructed a series of platforms from which his henchmen launch themselves using jetpacks. They do their best to blow our hero from the sky. At the end of the scrolling sea there is a platform which contains a bomb. Agent X must collect the bomb, fly back through the cave network, deposit the device on the roof of the professor's HQ, and then fly back out to sea to avoid the blast.


Control keys: Q up, A down, O left, P right, M fire
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Use of colour: a bit restrained
Graphics: good detail and animation
Sound: amazing music at the start, okay effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: three scrolling play areas and the shoot out screen

Perhaps this isn't one of the most original budget games ever, but it is certainly one of the best I'm impressed with this: it has everything a game should have - my only moans are that it may be a bit easy to complete and that the multi-load is a real pain. The graphics are a bit of a mixed bag really: the first few sections are excellent, but after these the graphics stmt to get a bit iffy. The sound is the best feature. The title music is without doubt amongst the best 48K music around. The effects aren't bad either. For two quid you won't regret buying this at all.

It seems to me that MASTERTRONIC have now established themselves as one of the top software houses in the country. They continually come out with well polished products at an affordable price. Agent X is another bit of fun software: its presentation is great and the game is playable and addictive. The graphics are some of the best budget type around and contain a good mixture of colour. Agent X is not initially addictive, but after a while I found myself rewinding the tape without complaining at the multi-load. Even if it is fairly easy to get past the first two levels, the game is fun to play and is great value for money. Well worth buying, if only because it's a bit different from the norm.

Wow! For £1.99, this has got so much content. The graphics are all fairly neat, but I dislike the need to continually restart and reload. I suppose it's unavoidable, but it is a little bit more frustrating to die on a multi-load game than on a normal one. For the money, Agent X is a crucial purchase, because without it you miss all the fun! Loads of content, in some very different games, all of them very well done. Worth every penny.

Presentation: 92%
Graphics: 82%
Playability: 83%
Addictive Qualities: 81%
Value for Money: 94%
Overall: 85%

Summary: General Rating: A great piece of budget software.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 15, Mar 1987   page(s) 66


Ka-thud! Pee-owwww! Kec-splonk! The X-rated Agent's at it again. Not that, silly! Saving the world's what, in a plot which is well stirred with the satire spoon.

The peace loving president of the USA has been kidnapped by a Mad professor, who's busy washing his brain and turning him into a warmonger. Success with the cerebral Persil means one thing and one thing only - World War Three. Only a budget game from Mastertronic can save the world now.

This is one from the cheap 'n' cheerful department, featuring multi-load action but not too much gameplay. Part one is a simple swerve and dodge driving game, seen in 3D from above. Score points for shunting other vehicles off the road. Not much to it - but then again, did you see Street Hawk?

Then there's a shooting gallery game. Geometric objects fly out of the walls to explode unless you hit them with your crosshairs. Finally, if you free the President, there's an escape through the caves.

Agent X looks great, and has some wacky touches, such as the life indicator, which consists of a little figure moving towards a gravestone. If only they'd been used to slightly better effect this could have been a Mastertronic classic.

As it is, it's unlikely to keep you hooked for weeks, but at this price most Agents wouldn't qive a XXXX for anything else!

Graphics: 8/10
Playability: 7/10
Value For Money: 7/10
Addictiveness: 7/10
Overall: 7/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 65, Mar 1987   page(s) 32

MACHINE: Spectrum
SUPPLIER: Mastertronic
PRICE: £1.99

Here's a nice multi-part arcade adventure style game from the budget masters. Agent X is a super spy character who has to track down the President who has been captured by a Mad Professor who aims to brainwash the President and get him to start World War !!!! Gaspo!

The game begins with Agent X in his car heading for the highway towards the mine where the Mad Prof is holding the President. You have to avoid lorries, cars and obstacles. Luckily your car can jump the hazards - useful when you are faced with a rumbling tank.

Once at the mine entrance, it's time to load in the next section which gives you the first chance to see what Agent X actually looks like. He a trenchcoat clad chap with a trilby hat.

This section is a bit like Wally goes underground - our hero has to beat off the Mad Prof's minions and reach the door to his lab. Inside the lab Agent X whips out his trusty laser rifle and zaps away at objects being thrown at him by the prof. Shoot enough of these and you get a crack at the professor. Fail and it's back to the beginning again.

If you zap the prof and save the president you have to fly him through tunnels and out to the top secret oil rig and safety. But there's still more to come! Agent X has to get back to the lab and destroy it for good.

Nice graphics, reasonable sound and varied gameplay make Agent X a nice budget offering.

The multi-load works well and is easy to use. Prompts appear on screen when it's time to load in the next bit.

Might be a bit too easy after a couple of plays though - but terrific value none the less.

And old Agent X could just become a bit of a cult like Magic Knight. He definitely should get another starring role in any event!

Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 6/10
Value: 9/10
Playability: 8/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ZX Computing Issue 35, Mar 1987   page(s) 40


This turned out to be a pleasant surprise - another Mastertronic cheapie that compares well with many of the expensive games that were churned out for Christmas.

Agent X loads in several parts, each piece of coding being a different stage in the game, and so the game manages to pack quite a lot into just £1.99's worth of cassette. The game starts with a furious car chase as Agent X sets off in hot pursuit of the kidnapped President. The graphics in this sequence are excellent - a large and nicely detailed 3D representation of a highway with various vehicles travelling in both directions and getting in the way.

The action is a bit chaotic, and getting through this section is more luck that judgment until you get the hang of it, but it's all so fast and furious that it's fun anyway.

The next sections of the game take you into the mad professor's lair, where you have to take on the security men (using an extremely silly-looking flying kick manoeuvre) and then into confrontation with the prof himself as he tries to brain you with anything that comes to hand.

It's all rather silly really, but the graphics are good. he game is nicely presented and the programmer's clearly kept his tongue well into his cheek, making this Mastertronic's best budget game for months.

Overall: Great

Award: ZX Computing Globella

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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