Tantalus


by Paul Hargreaves
Quicksilva Ltd
1986
Crash Issue 29, June 1986   (1986-05-29)   page(s) 127

The interstellar war is over and the enemy Jaglan Group has finally been wiped-out ... bar one member, who has taken refuge on the planet Tantalus. The Centuri Alliance is eager to dispose of this deviant, so a special task force is sent to Tantalus to eradicate him.

Years ago, human combat was abandoned in favour of wars between specially created mutant soldiers. Mutants were developed for domestic and menial jobs, but a certain type of mutoid has been genetically engineered as the ideal fighting being. With sharp reactions and inbred cunning, they are ideally suited to tackle the Tantalus Problem.

Four mutoid Spikes under your command are on the planet Tantalus and it's up to you to negotiate a way around the booby-trapped defences and assassinate the Jaglan criminal. Four against one? Couldn't be easier. Ho, ho. Tantalus is a veritable rabbit warren of underground caverns and hidden passageways, over a thousand locations in all. The Jaglan deviant hasn't wasted his time.

All those years in self-imposed exile have been spent setting up defences. Forty eight different sorts of alien form a grand welcoming party for you. Forty-eight types of alien with sixteen different flight patterns, each one a different challenge. Although the mutant spikes are near perfect fighters, they are by no means invulnerable. Apart from the nasties floating around Tantalus, the deviant has rigged-up some pretty devious devices to ensnare intruders: lasers fire across gaps; lasers shoot down from the ceiling; roof spikes impale passers-by; bubbling vats of acid have to be avoided and sinister looking grabbers winch down from the ceiling and do nasty things. There are dissolving walls, seemingly innocent doors that suddenly destroy you and apparently inanimate objects that are really rather deadly.

Before you can even think about eliminating the Jaglan deviant, thirty two deadly doors must be found and opened with the right key.

The mutants don't look much like the ultimate fighting creation more like strange cuddly toys with no hands or feet and mohican hairstyles. They start off with jetpacks and can zoom around the fortress. Going through an airlock removes the jetpack, and the range of movement thereafter is limited to left, right, up, down and jump. In jet pack mode Spikes can make themselves invisible for a few moments very handy when in an awkward spot.

Spikes are provided with an elaborate weapon system. They have six weapons, each of which fires in a unique pattern and can only be used for a limited period of time before being allowed to recharge. Panels on screen monitor progress, showing how many doorlocks have been opened, the condition of each of the six weapons and the number of lives remaining.

This is the first game in a trilogy from the author of Glass - more to follow in due course...

COMMENTS
Control keys: Q thrust/jump, A change weapon, 0 left, P right, M fire
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2
Keyboard play: fine
Use of colour: lots of it-perhaps a little garish
Graphics: densely packed, lots of variety
Sound: raspy spot effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: 1024


'Tantalus didn't appeal to me at all, mainly because I've seen so many games like this before. Arcade/adventures aren't new and to make any impression on me, such a game has to have something different or original about it. This game hasn't. The graphics are nice and colourful, but not particularly well animated. The only bit I liked was the six types of weapon available-apart from that I got bored rather quickly, I'm afraid.'

'As shoot em up games go, Tantalus is excellent. It is both addictive and very playable. The use of colour is terrific - the whole screen is covered in it, but I couldn't spot any colour clash. This game had many nice touches, like the different weapons. As you blast your way though the hundreds of sprites, the graphics and backdrops are well detailed and stand out. Eliminating the enemy is a massive task to embark on: overall, no disappointment in the game, which is very playable.'

'Though not a mega-fantastic game, I enjoyed playing Tantalus for a while. Colour is very nicely used and the game, while being very difficult, is good fun. I like it more than I did Quicksilva's last release, to say the least. The playing area is absolutely massive, and I found I could wander about for ages without having to recross my route. The concept of mutant punkoids is great, and I want one too!! Tantalus is big, colourful, fun and very difficult: I like it!'

Use of Computer: 77%
Graphics: 79%
Playability: 80%
Getting Started: 80%
Addictive Qualities: 76%
Value for Money: 75%
Overall: 76%

Summary: General Rating: A large colourful and playable game.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 07, July 1986   page(s) 36

What do you get if you cross Quicksilva's Games Designer with the Beatles' cartoon film 'Yellow Submarine'? Something that looks very like its new release, Tantalus.

There's a long and complicated story involving all sorts of Sci-fi nonsense - how come all insert card writers want to be Douglas Adams? But, basically, its an old plot tarted up - you play the part of a Spike Punkoid ... a spikey-haired mutoid, would you believe ... who has to search around a 1000-odd screens to assassinate the last deviant human being in the universe. Of course, it's not that easy - apart from anything else, the chap you're after is holed up in the middle of the 16-by-16 maze, safe behind a series of 32 doors. Each of these doors has to be opened with a well-aimed laser blast ... but first you'll have to decide which of six different types of laser you're going to use!

You'll also have to deal with 48 different kinds of alien baddies, each with 16 different flight patterns. They're all sorts of funny shapes, and they come at you from all directions, but they don't shoot at you ... they just get in your way.

Looking through the list of hassles the game throws in your path - such as the materialising walls, the acid baths, the lightning flashes and so on - none are really what you might call deadly. Yes, if you hang around in the path of a wall that suddenly decides to materialise, you're in trouble. But if you're careful, it's no real problem staying alive for a respectable time ... certainly enough to convince yourself that you actually have a chance of breaking down a few of the doors and having a go at the assassination attempt.

The screens do look very much alike - how else do you get over 1000 screens into 48K? - but they're all fun, and extremely colourful.

After a few hours play, I didn't get anywhere near to assassinating the deviant. In fact, I spent most of the time floating around the tunnels trying to work out where I was. The movement of little Spike and his spaceship is nice and smooth, especially the little 'bounce' when he jumps from a height.

You'll probably get accused of being a hippy if you get caught playing this game too much. But you're recommended to check it out. ma-a-a-an' It's freaky!!


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

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 53, August 1986   page(s) 41

Punks seem in vogue at Quicksilva. After the pogoing photographics of Hocus Focus come the interstellar safety pin through the proboscis brigade - the mutoid Spike punkoids! it's enough to make Johnny Rotten.

I never was one for in-depth research so excuse me if I skim through the facts from The Universe - A History in One Volume, included on the inlay card. It seems that after 490 years of galactic combat (3027 minus 2537 does not make 590 - mathematical note to Quicksilva) it was time for a little novelty to break the monotony of warfare. So the mutants were developed.

After war was over the world had to find a use for the remaining warriors and the last four were sent to the planet Tantalus. Which is where you come in, in command of the assassination group battling through the planet's caverns and passageways.

Tantalus, the program, is big - very big, with a 1000 screen labyrinth to explore. This is divided into 32 sections with hidden doors and door locks which are none too easy to locate. And, of course, the screens feature a whole host of hostile life.

Luckily your Punkoids are provided with no fewer than six weapon systems. There are two types of sideways fire, killing one alien at a time or any that get caught by a burst. There's vertical fire and there are bouncing bombs which have a path like a psychotic ping-pong ball.

Finally, for those tight spots, there's random eight-directional fire and even a brief spell of invisibility (though the brilliant design of the cassette inlay means the details of how this operates are lost because of a hole, punched in the card).

Tantalus is from the same author as last year's release, Glass which was much praised for its graphics. Once again Paul Hargreaves has come up with a landscape painted from the can labelled psychedelic.

But just as Glass was criticised for being little more than a good looking shoot 'em up, Tantalus is little more than a pretty maze game with some blasting thrown in.

I haven't actually got much to say against the game ... but then again there's not much to say in its favour.

Sure, its big and will take ages to complete, but my overall reaction is so-what.

At a budget price I might have felt it was something special but at nearly £9 it is quite unexceptional.

Label: Quicksilva
Author: Paul Hargreaves
Price: £8.95
Memory: 48K
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair
Reviewer: Jerry Muir

**


Overall: 2/5

Summary: Too many screens, all very much the same. If you're still awake after the first few hundred i'll be surprised.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 67, October 1987   page(s) 29

Punks rool OK, and we all know what punks hate the most don't we (no not Maxie Bygraves), yes that's right. They hate deviants and they've just found out that there's one left. So off goes Spike the Mutoid who's mission it is to travel through the anti-matter curtain and kill the deviant. He takes with him six weapons. (Oh no, not Nemesis again.) As I was saying, he takes with him six weapons: normal left/right bullets, left/right lasers, up/down bullets, bouncing bombs, random direction bullets and invisibility shields. Cor grandad, thassalot innit! Still, it's all necessary because the playing area is huge and there is an infinite number of nasties, so it should keep yer busy for while.

This is an excellent game on budget.

Label: Bug Byte
Price: £1.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Tony Dillon


Overall: 8/10

Summary: Good in its time, now it's even better as a re-release. Quite a smart blast and well worth digging out.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 57, July 1986   page(s) 39

MACHINE: Spectrum
SUPPLIER: Quicksilva
PRICE: £8.95

Paul Hargreaves, the teenage graphic genius who brought you Glass - the extremely pretty shoot 'em up - is back with Tantalus a 1024 screen epic starring Spike the Punkoid.

Spike, as all those who have studied the History of the Universe will know, is a genetically mutated creature produced by Punkoid Development Corporation.

Famed for their fighting prowess the Punkoids are sent on the most important mission of their, inhuman, lives - to assassinate the last deviant human being on this side of the anti-matter curtain.

A team of four Spike Punkoids have been sent to the planet Tantalus to kill the deviant but it isn't an easy task.

The planet is riddled with caverns and hidden passages, known as the Fortress. The deviant had used his time well in protecting the planet from invasion.

There are 32 doors on the planet and the activator locks were well disguised and hidden.

The Spike Punkoids, the best fighting mutoids ever developed, soon decided that they would need all the defences of their ship, their amazing instinctive cunning and their six defensive weapons systems.

Your ultimate goal is the assassination of the deviant but in order to achieve this aim you will first need to open all 32 deadly doors by firing at and hitting the lock activators dead centre. Each time an activator is opened, a door, somewhere in the Fortress, will be removed.

There are 48 different types of alien defenders with 16 different light patterns, randomly distributed around the Fortress.

Spike begins the game inside the Protonthrust craft - but if you find an airlock you can exit the craft and Spike is revealed in all his Punkoid glory.

There's no doubt that Tantalus is a very pretty game - but like Glass once you've enjoyed the graphics for a bit you begin to realise that there's not much to the actual game. A vast playing area is no substitute for addictive game play. Ultimately - like Glass - the game gets a bit boring. Great graphics, nice hero - but nothing that makes you want to come back for just one more go.


Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 5/10
Value: 5/10
Playability: 5/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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