Equinox


by Raffaele Cecco, Chris Hinsley, Nick Jones
Mikro-Gen Ltd
1986
Crash Issue 30, July 1986   (1986-06-26)   page(s) 34

A far flung mining asteroid, Sury Ani 7, becomes contaminated with radioactive waste. The miners abandon it in great haste for fear of radiation poisoning, but the asteroid contains valuable mineral resources and the authorities are reluctant to abandon the mining operations with so much material yet to be extracted. No living being can survive the high radiation levels in the mines, and the Powers That Be are faced with a serious problem. Eventually, a Dedicated Disposal Droid is sent into the depths of the asteroid to deal with the deadly radioactive canisters that are the root of the problem.

This would be a relatively simple mission for a Disposal Droid but for one thing: in their haste to flee the contaminated asteroid, the mining staff forgot to turn off the security system. The abandoned mining colony is now an almost impenetrable fortress guarded by multi-coloured Security Droids programmed to materialise next to any intruder the system detects. The Security Droids don't destroy your droid instantly, but clashes with Security Droids result in small explosions as bits of Disposal Droid are scattered around the mining system. Three lives are provided at the start of the game, and once these have been lost the mission is terminated unsuccessfully. The Security Droids are not invincible. DDD is equipped with a powerful laser which is more than adequate for blasting the Security Droids into the hereafter. Unfortunately, Security Droids seem to have trouble staying dead, and rematerialise shortly after they've been zapped.

Once the radioactive canisters have been located they must be disposed of. The only way to make sure the glowing isotopes inside the canisters don't re-contaminate the asteroid is to sling them down a disposal chute into a lead lined safe room below. There are eight levels on Sury Ani 7, and each one must be cleared of the troublesome canisters before work can begin on the next level. A time limit is involved - one canister on each level is particularly unstable and has to be dumped in the disposal chute before it explodes taking you and the asteroid with it.

The Disposal Droid has a variety of methods for moving around the mine system. Apart from the conventional upwards, downwards and side to side manoeuvres, it has a retro-thrust - a sort of Turbocharger that is very useful for making a quick getaway from Security Droids. The retro-thrust unit demands large amounts of fuel, and if the Droid suffers fuel starvation for too long, it explodes. Batteries can be collected to replenish energy.

Movement between certain locations is possible via teleporters - there is a small charge for using these. One droid life is exchanged for a cyan teleport credit which can be obtained from the credit dispensers. The trans-level transporter ensures safe passage between mining levels, but numbered level passes have to be collected before inter-level transportation is permitted. Access is only granted if the droid has a pass with a number less than or equal to the number of the level you want to travel to.

A status area at the top of the screen monitors progress. A window to the left acts as the inventory; the next window shows how many lives remain while a third window shows the score, based on the number of canisters and Security Droids eliminated. A row of coloured squares shows how much time is left before the unstable canisters explode, while fuel and laser energy supplies are indicated on a bar display.

What sort of Droid Driver are you?

COMMENTS
Control keys: A use, M fire, Q thrust, O left, P right, 3 pause
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2
Keyboard play: responsive
Use of colour: carefully and cleverly done
Graphics: very pretty, neat animation
Sound: good, but a little sparse
Skill levels: one
Screens: 128


'After the mediocre Battle Of The Planets, Mikro-Gen have gone back to their old 'lots of colour' policy and it seems to have worked well. The graphics are superb and it's obvious that a lot of time has gone into fitting all the aliens and scenery into character squares, thus avoiding attribute problems. The sound effects are sparse, but what is there is very effective and suits the play well. This is a very playable game because all the problems can be solved with common sense, and the shoot em up element is great as well.'

'Gosh! I like this game. If I hadn't been cheating, I'm sure it would have been very difficult, but as it was, I thought it was great fun. The graphics are colourful and well animated, and the sound is reasonable, but the title tune is even better. The instructions within the game are excellently done, and overall, Mikro-Gen have come up with another product that is simply excellent, very playable, and addictive.'

'At first sight Equinox looks and 'feels' similar to Starquake - you are playing in the same sort of area. The game itself isn't as playable as it could be because shooting up the nasties to clear a path for yourself can be very testing as your laser isn't very effective. The graphics are nicely animated and detailed; the backgrounds are colourful, yet I couldn't spot any colour clash. The sound is very good, with some spot effects during the game and an excellent tunette on the title screen. Equinox takes a little getting used to, but once you do it is great fun, although I'm not sure that I'd be all that pleased about forking out ten quid for it.'

Use of Computer: 88%
Graphics: 87%
Playability: 89%
Getting Started: 85%
Addictive Qualities: 88%
Value for Money: 84%
Overall: 87%

Summary: General Rating: A very well produced shoot em up adventure.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 08, August 1986   page(s) 68

Knox knox. Who's there? Wally. Wally who? Wall 'e can get out of ere because these are strictly Equi knocks.

A timely break from the Week-ly mode by Mikro-Gen with a plot that combines Richard Branson-style litter collection with Kiev-style radioactive waste. It's the interminable depths of space again - ever feel you you've been there interminably? - the asteroid Sury-Ani 7 to be exact. It's here that the cannisters that'll crack your Geiger counter lurk, deep in the mines (... but you're welcome to them).

Luckily you have a disposal droid to do the dirty work, a cute little spinning thing that looks rather like an overweight Frisbee or even a fifties flying saucer (which, in reality, probably was an overweight Frisbee). You've got a vertical thrust control, left and right, pick up or use and fire.

Your mission is to locate the litter, dispose of it and then find a pass to take you onto the next level. But it's all a race against time before you exhaust your lasers, run out of fuel or the isotopes reach critical mass. And, of course, space wouldn't be space unless it was full of aliens getting in the way, would it?

Equinox comes to the Spectrum from the Amstrad and at first I'll admit disappointment that the graphics though still imaginatively drawn with some big chunky mining machines and the odd animal blinking away, lack the glowing colour that Alan S's other machine can generate. The opening music, even though it simulates two channels, also sounds quavery on the Speccy.

So are there rewards to compensate? At first I wasn't sure. This looked and played like a sub-Sorcery game. But then I began to do things and stopped floating around, just blasting at the blasted aliens. Lying all over the asteroid are useful articles that enable you to obtain tools, open doors, use teleports. Where you thought you had only nine chambers you realise there are sixteen! Suddenly it's much more fun.

Unluckily it isn't obvious at first just what object is needed where. Now I know you'd never want it obvious... but I've included a few clues all the same. They should get you started but after that you're on your own with only the lessons from level one to help.

Not a bad little game after all, allowing for the Spectrum's limitations. But I cant help feeling a slight twinge of envy for Amstrad owners even if they do haveto call their machines Arnold!


Graphics: 8/10
Playability: 8/10
Value For Money: 8/10
Addictiveness: 9/10
Overall: 8/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 52, July 1986   page(s) 31

Equinox does not feature any members of the Wally family. For this at least, some of us are glad.

It is, instead, a collect-and-dodge game of vast proportions. Were games judged on the sheer volume of bouncing and splurging sprites alone the game would be a winner. As it is Equinox contains nothing new. There is much to enjoy but nothing to admire.

The plot is to clear a number of levels of unstable nuclear cannisters, which are liable to blow up. On each level the time left before that level's cannister explodes ticks away at the top of the screen.

Quite apart from the problem of finding the cannister and discovering how to travel from one level to the other, there are bouncing monsters of many species including splogy jelly, a cute penguin, orbs, hair standing on end thing, and the particularly popular 'oh God I can't think of anything else and I was supposed to have this game delivered last week' programmers 'please yourself' abstract shapes.

And, all of them bounce determinedly.

The thought part of the game derives initially from trying to discover what objects when combined together do what. Some of these links are obvious, eg stone blocking passages and sticks of dynamite. Some less so, eg blue spheres and teleport type devices. In the end though, the game is too much of the too familiar.

Label: Mikro-Gen
Price: £9.95
Joystick: Kempston
Memory: 48K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

*****


Overall: 5/5

Summary: Smooth, big sprites, but little originality. Equinox is only for addicts of the collect-and-dodge genre.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 56, June 1986   page(s) 33

MACHINE: Amstrad/Spectrum
SUPPLIER: Mikro-Gen
PRICE: £7.95

If you've got an Amstrad and you haven't got a copy of Equinox from Mikeo-Gen, you must be stark, staring mad! Simple as that. Equinox is the best thing this side of Sorcery.

It's the first major project for new programmer Raffaele Cecco. And it looks as if he's got a bright future - as bright as the excellent graphics featured in this game.

In the interminable depths of space, Asteroid Sury-Ani 7, floats majestically in a 400 year orbit.

Radio-active canisters that weer due for disposal now lie exposed in Sury-Ani 7's mining complex. The human inhabitants have now departed and only you - a disposal droid - remaint to dispose of the canisters before they become critical and annihilate the whole complex.

Asteroid Sury-Ani 7, rich in minerals has been hollowed out into a huge mining complex. THe complex is sectioned into eight levels.

Gaining access to the different levels is achieved with numbered level passes.

In order to obtain canisters and level passes, your dedicated disposal droid must use various tool, machines and components which are scattered around the complex.

You'll need to be able to survive the harmful aliens on each of the numerous levels, and collect a pass on each one.

You begin the game with three lives and any contact with an alien will reduce your energy, prolonged contact with an alien will result in the loss of one of these lives.

Each level contains a canister, Disposal Chute and Level Pass. You will have to collect the level pass in order to access the next level. As you search each level for these items, your time will elapse.

To enable you to find the Radio-Active Canisters and Level Pases you will need to use the tools and objects that have been scattered around each level.

The unusual combination of arcade adventure and shoot 'em up had this reviewer hooked from the start.

But blasting everything in sight won't get you very far. You have to learn the right combination of objects.


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

Award: C+VG Hit

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Computer Issue June 1986   page(s) 46

Amstrad & Spectrum
Mikro-Gen
Arcade Adventure
£9.95

Poor old Wally. Mikro-Gen has put that lovable character on the back burner for a time and now he is being replaced by a machine. Equinox is simply Wally in outer space, with a spherical cyclops replacing our preambulating hero.

Before a new planet is fit for wallies, you have to go in and clean things up a little. Not only one thing at a time, so canisters of radioactive waste but the joint is also jumping with furry aliens trying to bump you off. Various objects such as drills, dynamite, keys and passes are hanging about. They have to be collected but you can carry only one thing at a time, so it is a process of working out a logical order to pass the various obstacles to put the nuclear waste down the disposal chute.

Working that out while being the subject of constant unwelcome attention of the local heavy mob is all rather testing.

As soon as you enter the room, swarms of the little beasties appear and set about you. Blaze away and run for the exit is about the best advice which can be offered. If you can manage eight levels of that kind of frantic activity, solve all the logical puzzles, keep any of your three lives intact, and stay off the Valium, you can consider yourself a jolly good droid.

Graphically striking, the game offers hours of manic action and looks next to impossible to complete. Mikro-Gen fans will have to add speed of reflex to their problem-solving skills.


Graphics: 5/5
Sound: 3/5
Playability: 3/5
Value For Money: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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