The underground citadel of Quazatron is run by an evil cult of mutant droids, hell-bent on destroying the human race. Sob, whimper. But... do not despair, help is at hand in the form of KLP2, a psychotic Meknotech droid.
Klepto, as he is known, is a droid with A Past. In his youth he was exposed to a rare form of radiation which induced a type of droid madness. His persistent habit of dismantling everything mechanical in sight has landed him in serious trouble - he was expelled from droid school for demolishing his teacher. Despite painstaking re-programming, he remains a liability, but now he has a chance to prove his worth by eliminating the alien droids from the planet Quartech.
The droids patrolling the levels of Quazatron are pretty tough cookies, graded in security classes from one (very tough) to nine. They have some deadly weapons systems, and are virtually invincible - all previous attacks on the citadel failed. Now a new grappling system has been developed for droid-to-droid combat, and on account of his anti-social disposition Klepto has been chosen to test the prototype in a combat situation. He is expendable, after all!
At the start of the game Klepto is transported to the underground citadel of Quazatron. He must trundle about locating the enemy droids, dismantling them, pushing them off their programmed courses or blasting them to smithereens with his laser. Quazatron can be approached in two ways: on one level it is a shoot em up - destroy all the enemy droids and you win; but a wealth of strategical gameplay lurks below the surface. Whenever Klepto uses the prototype grappling system successfully, and overcomes an alien droid, his penchant for taking things to bits allows him to scavenge droid parts and upgrade himself.
Klepto toddles up and down ramps looking for droids to scrap with. Ramming into a patrolling droid allows Klepto to use the grappling system, which breaks into the enemy droid's circuits: the fight is on. The grapple system in the game has been adapted from Hewson's Commodore game, Paradroid, and the aim is to win control of as many of the central bars on the grapple screen as you can.
Using pulsers which are fired into the circuits, you must turn at least seven of the twelve central bars on the screen to your colour to win - the more bars you control at the end of the time limit, the more resounding the victory and the less damage done to the alien droid's systems. If the grapple is won, Klepto can help himself to his victim's undamaged components - including the drive unit, weapon system, power unit, chassis and any other special devices that may be present. He's a regular robotic carrion collector is Klepto.
The lowest class of alien droid, Class 9, is relatively easy to outgrapple, but the goodies that can be scavenged from its hulk are not as attractive as those found on higher class droids. Care should be taken when choosing which parts to take from a vanquished opponent - it's all very well pinching a super dooper weapon system for instance, but if Klepto has a wimpy power unit then it'll rapidly be drained by the demands made on it by the new equipment.
Computer consoles scattered around the cityscape can be used to pick up information that comes in very handy when taking a strategic approach to the game. Trundling up to a terminal and pressing fire logs Klepto on to the system and calls up an icon menu from which a map of the current level of the city, a plan of the entire city and the droid data library can be called up. The data library displays Klepto's current status, and lists the weapon, drive, power unit, chassis and devices currently installed. Details of the equipment to be found on enemy droids in the same or lower security classes as Klepto may be called up - vital for planning a rational upgrade path.
Travel between city levels is effected by moving Klepto onto a lift square set in the rampway and pressing fire - a plan view of the city comes onto the screen and Klepto can whizz up or down the lift shaft he is in. All this grappling and zooming round drains Klepto's energy - and if his power unit is low-grade compared to the weapon systems or chassis that hs been gained by grappling, then the power drain is all the more rapid. Klepto's power unit can be recharged by moving onto power squares found on some levels, but points are lost for each recharge. As a power unit runs down, the amount of charge it can hold reduces. Eventually a new unit will have to be grappled from an alien if Klepto is to survive.
The city's rampways are displayed in a scrolling window on the screen in 3D perspective. Klepto moves around the diagonals of the playing area, and can only fire his weapon system while he's on the move and in weapon mode as opposed to grapple mode. Klepto's energy status is revealed by the speed at which his head rotates - when he's fully charged it whizzes round and a smile covers his countenance. As his power reserves dwindle, Klepto begins to look glum. Only one life is supplied in the game, so the aim is to keep Klepto smiling. Get grappling!
Control keys: A,S,D,F,G left and up, H,J,K,L right and up, B,N,M,SYM SHIFT left and down, Z,X,C,V,CAPS SHIFT right and down, ENTER to fire, W to toggle autofire, P to pause
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface
Keyboard play: straightforward and responsive
Use of colour: attractive
Graphics: detailed, with cunning 3D but a little slow to scroll
Sound: first rate
Skill levels: one
Screens: multilevel scrolling city
"Quazatron owes a debt to the Commodore hit, Paradroid; though the graphics are very different, the lift sequence and grapple screen are almost identical. It's generally a great game, that's really fun to play and is instantly appealing. The only real complaint that I've got is that the scrolling routine when you move about could be a lot smoother, but as this doesn't interfere with gameplay, it's still one of the best games I've played on the Spectrum. If you have seen the Commodore game and liked it, I'd recommend you get Quazatron right now!"
"Quazatron is a true masterpiece. Nothing about it is of a bad standard - sound, graphics, playability and addictiveness, they're all there. Basically, this is the C64 game Paradroid jazzed up a bit with pretty graphics and redesigned for the Spectrum. It is very easy to get into if you've played the Commodore game, but I suggest you study the instructions for a while if you haven't, as they are complex and could be confusing. The graphics are about the best I've ever seen on this type of game: the characters are excellently drawn and full of detail, as is the city in its many levels. Graphically, my only nag is that the scrolling is too slow. The sound is excellent, with a brilliant tune on the title screen, and the effects during the game are second to none. I can't really see myself putting this one down for a good while yet as it is fun to play and very compelling. I strongly recommend Quazatron to everyone."
"Steve Turner has done a wonderful job of producing a Paradroid type game - I reckon this is one of the best games ever to come out on the Spectrum. Playability is superb: the game'll keep you at the computer for ages wondering how you're going to kill the next droid that comes along. The levels are very detailed and contain lots of baddies to short circuit. The grapple mode is very good and needs lots of patience and skill to play. The character you control is very well animated and there are lots of nice touches to the game. The sound at the start is a very good two channel simulation. Addictive qualities are enhanced by the fact that it is quite easy to finish one level, but a different matter altogether to go around and clear the whole city. This is definitely one game that will keep you at your Spectrum for months."
You might as well ignore the fact that this game is supposed to be the Spectrum version of a 64 game called Paradroid. I mean, it's a whole different bailgame. Er, that's just a figure of speech, it's not a ball game...
The plot, for those of you wise enough not to have played the 64 version, revolves around a certain little droid called KLP-2, aka Klepto, assigned to deactivate the armies of hostile alien droids that inhabit the underground city of Quazatron.
Klepto disables the droids either by blasting them to their component atoms (crude but effective), pushing them off thew programmed routes, ramming them if he's strong enough, or by 'grappling'. This is a process by which you take over the grappled droid's mind at circuit level, switching gates in his circuits until he relinquishes control.
It's totally brilliant! Ry far the most original scenario to pass before my eyes, and certainly the greatest all-round challenge. Don't get me wrong, I like games that involve blasting things to bits, but as well as the thrill of destruction I like a bit at strategy thrown in. Partly to justify my interest in wanton havoc, but also because it's nice to play a game that stretches more than your joystick. I like to be stretched all over... but then I'm a bit pervy.
94% Issue 29
As Klepto, a psychotic young droid with a penchant for taking things apart, you have been volunteered to get the mutant droids out of Quazatron, a multilevelled underground citadel of ramps and lifts.
Klepto starts with a measly pulse laser but can collect extra weaponry by ramming other droids and entering a grapple sequence - really a subgame.
A test of strategy and reflexes decides who wins the grappling duel. If you successfully grapple another droid you can take any available weapons; if you lose, the consequences are usually fatal. As you upgrade your weapons you can take on ever more powerful opponents, till you become the top dog - and then it's time to move on to the next citadel.
'Quazatron is a true masterpiece,' said CRASH at the time, and the comment is still valid. Apart from the rather jerky scrolling everything is faultless: the graphics, the music, the FX and the gameplay. Quazatron is a successful fusion of strategy and arcade and deserves all the recognition it's had.
HERE COME the Droids! Scores of them, deadly in combat, of every rank and class ? medic droids, logic droids, security droids, command droids, repair droids. From the lowly menials to the deadly battle cyborg, they inhabit Quazatron ? underground technopolis of Quartech.
Then there's you, KLP-2, the most famous bot in the galaxy. Accidentally, while training as a droid mechanic, you dismantled your teacher. After that things went from bad to worse. A highly developed ability to take things to pieces led you to a posting at the end of Empire, where you redeemed yourself by dismantling the left leg of Mandroid, the space pirate. Now you're a public hero.
And now, because of your fame, you've been sent to Quartech to dismantle, destroy, or otherwise demoralise the alien droids of Quazatron.
This latest game from the gifted mind of Steve Turner, programmer of Dragontorc and Avalon, is a magnificent blend of arcade action and strategy. It owes much to Andrew Braeburn's Commodore 64 game Paradroid, also published by Hewson, but for my money Quazatron has a wonderful quirkiness that lifts it well above the earlier game.
The city is built on seven levels connected asymmetrically by lift shafts. Each level has a completely different layout of ramps and shafts. The impression is a little like a Marble Madness scene, but the similarity ends there.
You can climb up and down ramps and, of course, move along the level, but you cannot climb up a straight edge. Falling off an edge drains your energy, and some of the great cliffs that split a few of the levels into two halves represent instant suicide if you take the plunge. The alien bots may well try to push you over - especially if they are more powerful than you.
You can shoot down droids and, if you are superior in strength, destroy them by ramming. But even if you're the greatest zapper that ever held a joystick, you would still run out of power long before you finished the game. To get more power you might try to juice up from the power points scattered around each level. Better by far to rely more on your famed ability at taking the opposition to bits - literally. Here's how.
When you move you can either be in mobile mode or grapple mode. In the former you can fire your rockets at the enemy. In the latter you can close for a form of robotic wrestling that scores full marks for novelty and addictive pleasure.
When you make contact in grapple mode, the screen switches to display a diagram of the two droids' security circuits. Well, that's what the instructions say they are.
A series of lines, one side blue and the other yellow, meet in the centre of the screen where a barrier separates them. The barrier is coloured alternately yellow and blue where the lines strike.
Each side has a number of pulses to send down the lines and a time limit in which to despatch them. Some of the lines are dead ends, others split into two, some converge on a single part of the barrier. You get a short time to decide which side of the circuit to play and then try to turn as much of the barrier your colour as you can. The opposing droids play more or less efficiently depending on their power.
Once you win a victory - by converting more than half of the barrier to your colour - you can take your pick from the various components of the enemy droids. The closer the battle the more likely some of these are to be damaged.
An overwhelming victory will give you a free choice - but beware, a powerful drive unit may require more power to fuel it than you can afford. Sophisticated weapons and shields may put too much of a strain on your drive unit, and so on.
Details of the characteristics of various units are available through the monitor terminals dotted about the levels. However, you will receive information on the parts carried by droids of similar or lower rank to your own current configuration. To improve you must take on a more powerful droid - blind.
The droids are graded from one to nine - one being the most powerful. However, you must still be careful over what equipment you pick, as even the most mighty droids may not be superior to you in every part. And if you overload yourself with heavy, fuel-hungry gear you'll be risking everything when power runs low.
The graphics, even on the pre-production version I have been playing, are superb. The playing area of each level is large, and although the scrolling was not as smooth as I would have liked, Hewson assures me that problem will be solved in the finished version.
The game plays fast - again, that is to be slowed down a fraction, although I don't see any particular need for it. Keeping the balance between grappling and shooting enemy droids is a nice exercise in strategy, and the whole idea of cannibalising the enemy for spare parts appeals equally to my sense of humour and love of variety in games.
Another feature I enjoy is an almost complete lack of status tables, energy and so on. Your power level is indicated by the rate at which your droid's head revolves. When it gets really low, KLP-2's face assumes a gloomy expression, and at rock-bottom the movement mode indicator flashes a warning.
Apart from that, the only indication of your status is when the lighting on a level goes dark because you have killed all the droids, and when you win a grapple contest ? you are reminded then of the components currently installed on your droid.
That vagueness about how well you are doing until you start doing really badly makes the game a major challenge. In fact, it's quite easy to run around having fun, killing droids and ripping off their usable parts. But you must plan carefully if you want to survive for long, husbanding your power supply until you can be sure of obtaining better.
Different levels have higher concentrations of powerful bots too. If you knock out too many of the really powerful ones in one visit, you may find you have wiped out and wasted a major source of good equipment and cannot clean up the rest of the city in time. The potential for complex planning is great.
Compared to Steve Turner's previous games, Quazatron seems much more light-hearted in concept. But it's certainly not a quick throw-away between major games. I found it one of the most refreshing games I've seen in months, and I'm sure I'll be returning to it many times.
In spite of the fact that the copy I've been using still has a few rough edges to it, I'm in no doubt at all about awarding Quazatron a Classic. It's a magnificent program as it is, and the slight improvements promised can only make it better. Quazatron had me hooked from the start.
Programmer: Steve Turner
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair, Cursor
MACHINE: Spectrum 48/128
Well, it looks like Hewsons have done it again. Got a number one on their hands, that is! After Uridium comes Quazatron from Steve Turner, the Dragontorc man. Quazatron is quite a departure from Steve's previous games - it's more arcade oriented than his earlier offerings for a start and it's guaranteed free of wizards!
If you've played Paradroid on the 64 by Steve's mate Andrew Braybrook, you'll recognise the basic idea of the game. In fact Steve set out to create Paradroid on the Spectrum. But don't think this is just a copy - far from it. Quazatron features some neat 3D Marble Madness/Gyroscope style pyramids for a start. BUt let's take a look at the scenario.
You find yourself in the subterranean city of Quazatron the planet Quartech, home of the Daglath, a droid culture dedicated to the domination and elimination of us humans. The smooth-running of the city is in the mechanised hands of a number of battalions of Battle Droids, Service, Robots and Repair Mobiles who trundle around the ramps and pyramids of the many levels of the city in execution of their mysterious duties.
Unknown to the Logic Robots, who control Quazatron, the city has been targeted for subversive attack by a human controlled Meknotech droid.
You control KLP-2 (Klepto) the wayward Meknotech droid assigned to deactivate hostile alien droids which inhabit the underground city of Quazatron.
KLP-2 is a prototype grapple device enabling the alien robots to be stopped and dismantled. Klepto can add the parts recovered from the aliens himself - his facilities and endurance.
Each alien Droid has a range of equipment at its disposal - lasers, disruptors, shields and ram thrusters.
Klepto must destroy these Droids in a laser battle or by dismantling his opponent piece by piece. Anti-tamper and other security devices make grappling at close quarters a difficult procedure. BUt the reward for success if the pick of the hardware removed from the vanquished Droid.
Intelligence reports on the strength and disposition of the enemy can be obtained from control consoles of the Logic Robots also dotted around the complex.
Travel around the city is by means of elevated ramps with lifts to links the various levels.
Both of these units can be activated using the fire button.
Many different weapons can be taken from enemy droids and the data library contains hints on which weapons are most useful. Weapons can only be used while KLP-2 is moving.
To successfully grapple with a droid you must engage its security circuit. This is the sub game first seen in Paradroid.
To change levels within the city complex you must find a lift square. Press your fire button and a side view of the city is displayed. Move up/down to the required level and left to right exit the lift.
Enemy logic robot control consoles are useful tools. They are easy to locate as they look just like blank TV screens dotted around the map.
Your energy is shown by the rotation of the head of the KLP-2. His expression changes from happy to upset as he runs out energy.
Quazatron is one of those games you start playing at lunchtime and still be at it at midnight! Addictive isn't the word. The combination of strategy and arcade action will have you hooked instantly.
Remember Paradroid? The stunning original arcade game that made Andrew Braybrook a name spoken in hushed tones at every computer club. Well this is better!
Steve Turner, author of Avalon, Dragontorc and Astro-Clone, has taken Andrew's idea, added some nice graphics, tweaked the plot and produced a game which will have arcade and strategy fans alike beating a path to Hewson's door. You start off a humble, menial robot in the city of Quazatron, which is swarming with enemy robots of varying degrees of lethality. Your job is to wipe them out. This is no simple arcade game. You can have reflexes so sharp they hurt, and you still won't win. The idea is not only to blast away, but to get in close and "grapple" with the enemy.
You then move on to a takeover screen, which is a battle to outwit the enemy robot by invading his logic circuits.
Once again, Hewson have set the standard that others must follow.
HEWSON'S NEW DROIDATHON SPARKS OFF THE SUPERLATIVES
One surefire test of a compulsive game is whether you are tempted to go back and play it while you are writing the review and I can assure you that I'm fighting like mad to resist it.
Quazatron is set in the multi-levelled city of the same name on the planet Quartech. You are in control of a Meknotech droid who must eliminate a whole horde of enemy droids who inhabit the underground complex.
There's nothing startling about the basic idea but the way it is developed and the number of additional features built into it make Quazatron a real joy to play.
There are eight levels to the city and almost as many levels of enjoyment. You can choose to treat the game as a straight shoot 'em up or try it as an exercise in strategy.
You can of course opt to laser every droid in sight but there is more than one way to skin a robot. Different classes of robot have varying strength levels and component parts - you can ram them, push them off ramps or engage in "grapple mode".
When grapple mode is engaged by putting the joystick into the central position and pressing fire you can move in on a vulnerable droid and dismantle him, saving for yourself weaponry, chassis and other elements you want to incorporate into your robot.
Each enemy droid has a defensive security circuit so that each time you go for grapple mode you are transferred to a sub-game. You are given a limited number of "pulsers" to fire at a central bar to turn it to your chosen colour. Not as simple as it sounds as you have a few seconds to decide which side of the bar you want to fire from. Once you've chosen, your target droid will be firing from the other side.
The game is complicated by junction boxes and obstacles that prevent you having a free shot at the bar. If you succeed in hitting at least seven of the 12 sections of the bar you are presented with a status report on your victim.
A careful choice is needed here as different elements are required to tackle the more sophisticated droids later in the game. If the grapple mode sub-game has been deadlocked requiring one or more rematches the target droid may be severely damaged and have no elements that you can incorporate, so a swift first time victory is essential.
The droids are numbered from one to nine, the higher the number the easier it is to grapple successfully. The letters which are stamped on the droids refer to their function.
You can recharge your droid (KLP-2) from power points on the various levels. Your energy can be measured from the speed of rotation of the droid's cap. Every now and then a face emerges from under the cap to give you a smile or a frown depending on the state of the game. If you have a energy crisis the word 'power' will appear on the display at the bottom of the screen. If that happens it's time for a high speed visit to the nearest power point or, if possible, grapple a droid to steal a new power unit.
Although you start with a single life grappling successfully will gain you an extra life so it is advisable to come to grips with grappling early on.
Scattered around the city are consoles which will give you valuable information. Once accessed you are presented with four icons giving a 3D map of the city, a side on view of the levels, information from the Droid Data Library and a return to game option.
The facts from the library will give you the lowdown on droids which have a similar or lesser status to your own but it is useful to find out which have the vital elements to build your best droid.
Success in this game is all down to skilfull grappling, knowing which droid is beatable and what they have that can be cannibalised for your own robot. The best strategy is to go for droids which are close to your current class number.
As most of the droids movements are diagonal it can be tricky to master the steering at first but unlike a lot of games with a joystick option, keyboard control can be as easy and effective.
The scenario of the game, with its various ramps, ledges and levels is sufficiently complex to entice you back again and again, the gameplay is truly addictive and the graphics are excellent. Without reservations a Monster Hit and a game that will give the term "grappling fan" an entirely new meaning.
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