Total Recall

by James Higgins, Andrew P. Deakin, Ivan Horn, Warren Lancashire, Jonathan Dunn, Active Minds: Mark R. Jones, Simon Butler
Ocean Software Ltd
Crash Issue 86, March 1991   (1991-02-21)   page(s) 56,57

‘We can remember it for you wholesale!’ hollers the Rekall Incorporated representative in Schwarzenegger’s futuristic film, Total Recall.

Remember it wholesale? I remember the preview for this and it was nothing like this finished version, which is a bit of a blessing as the old Total Recall wasn’t much cop!

Right, let’s try and get the plot straight: the line from the advertisement — ’You’re not you — you’re me’ — doesn’t exactly make things clear. In Total Recall, the you is Doug Quaid, a chap hounded by nightmares of a life on Mars. In an attempt to sort it out, Quaid visits Rekall Incorporated, a company that specialises in adventure holidays — not real ones but implanted memories of your perfect vacation.

In his chosen holiday, Quaid is a double-dealing spy on Mars but unexpected events make him suspect he may actually be a spy, and his current Quaid identity is an implanted memory. Desperate to sort himself out, Quaid goes to Mars, but the villain of the story, Richter, is hot on his tail.

Total Recall has five levels of packed gameplay which take you from Earth to Mars. There are two types of level: in odd-numbered levels, you, as Quaid, jump around multi-directional scrolling platforms, while in even-numbered ones you take to the streets in a horizontally scrolling car shoot-em-up. It’s quite an odd mix because you can ‘learn’ how to play the platform levels but you simply have to be a good shoot-’em-up player to succeed in levels two and four.

Level one is set in a large complex guarded by many of Richter’s henchmen, some of them armed. You must find the five objects you need to take to Mars. A gun and your mighty fists are your defence (remember to pick up extra ammo to keep your gun battle-ready). The complex is about five storeys high and constructed from platforms to leap between and lifts to take you between floors. It sounds a bit like any old platform game, doesn’t it?

But hold your horses, there are plenty of puzzles to work out too! Throughout the complex are switches, embedded in the floors. which make secret walls and floors appear or disappear. Not activating the right switch at the right time causes serious problems — you may have to waste time (yes, you’re playing against the clock!) retracing your steps to activate it, or worse still, fall into one of the acid pools, resulting in instant death. You only have one life to play with on this level but you can keep topping up your energy by collecting suitable icons.

Other trouble-makers include two different types of vertical laser beams. The yellow sort go on and off automatically, so careful timing is called for when hopping through. The purple sort can be deactivated for a limited time by stepping on a pressure pad.

Level one is a lot of fun and gives a real sense of achievement as you gradually discover more and more of the complex. The style of graphics is a bit odd for such a violent, action-packed movie tie-in: they’re all large and cartoony, but very, very good. The animation is smashing, especially Quaid’s death sequence: he explodes into a sort of gooey splat! Odd but good.

The playability’s set just right — the armed henchmen aren’t too hard to beat (especially with a good supply of ammo in the gun) so the game doesn’t become a naff beat-’em-up.

Enough of level one’s antics, let’s have a shufty at level two — the first of the two scrolling shoot-’em-ups. Quaid’s pinched a Jonnycab (a computerised taxi-like craft) and is en route to a derelict warehouse, in the hope it will provide him with a few helpful clues to his identity.

The objective is simple enough: just keep driving along the four-lane motorway killing off as many cars as possible. The energy bar, at the top right of the screen. continually diminishes, although it does receive a small top-up with every car shot down (except ambulances which, if shot. reduce your energy even further). Driving over an ’E’ icon completely replenishes the energy bar.

There’s not a time limit here, but you do have to go the distance. A purple arrow at the top left of the screen marks your progress. The action’s fast and gameplay’s tough but this section isn’t as enjoyable as level one because it doesn’t require as much thought. Graphics are okay but the isometric 3D effect is looking a bit old hat these days.

Level three now, and back to the platform gameplay of level one. Quaid’s discovered he’s actually someone called Hauser but he’s still being pursued by Richter’s men, who stand around on platforms hitting out as soon as he goes near. The gameplay’s trickier, with many more pitfalls than the first level, but the objectives are the same: explore, locate, don’t die etc. Survive that and you’re whizzed off to Mars and into another driving/shoot-em-up section.

The final level is set deep in Mars (that’s why its red. which makes it a strain on the eyes). It’s more of the platform gameplay, though the action is much quicker here, with armed guards everywhere! Your oxygen supply is continually draining away and can only be replenished by picking up oxygen cubes, though I was usually shot before the oxygen had a chance to run out!

That about wraps up the game and should you complete it you may even understand the storyline (if you do you’re a better man than I am!).

So, what can be said about Total Recall? Addictive isn’t the word — though it’s not a bad one to start with. So, it’s very addictive. The platform levels are superbly playable, as long as you concentrate. I’m not so struck on the shoot-em-up levels, they’re so risky, but at least you’re provided with three lives on those levels. Should you die on level three, four or five, there’s a Continue option after the Game Over message, which is very helpful.

The graphics for the first three levels are something special: bold, bright, detailed and — hurrah! — colourful! The animation’s great too: Quaid/Hauser has real power in his stride and when he hits a henchman, with either fist or bullet, the henchmen flies backwards, stumbling from the blow.

I loved the game, and I have the sneaking suspicion you will too. Don’t bother getting Rekall to remember it for you: go out and experience Total Recall for real!

RICHARD ... 93%

'For me, Total Recall was one of the best movies of 1990; it really pulled In the crowd: with its fast paced (and very violent) action. Now the computer game Is on the streets, you too can become big Arnie as he battle: through this multi-level Ocean extravaganza. The going’s tough, and for many games I fell victim to Quaid’s vicious adversaries. But the game’s so playable, you’re lucky I managed to tear myself away to write this comment! Presentation is as high as playability — my fave bit is the really neat title sequence. This is the second Ocean game I’ve played this month and the second I’ve awarded an accolade to. I think a big round of applause is called for! (Clap clap clap!)'
MARK ... 94%

Presentation: 94%
Graphics: 93%
Sound: 88%
Playability: 93%
Addictivity: 93%
Overall: 94%

Summary: A strange mix of gameplays but an overall winner!

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 63, March 1991   page(s) 61

Whoo-ee! This was a bit of huge, stonking, blockbusting whopper of a movie last year, wasn't it, Spec-chums? It starred that dangerous hunk of gristle we all know and love as Arnie Schwarzenegger - which meant it made up for in designer violence what it lost out on in plot!

And the games exactly the same - only more so! (Hurrah!) For reasons best explained in the movie, 'Little' Arnie has to travel to Mars where he gets caught up in a battle for the planet's air supply. This means that he's got to dodge and kill loads of baddies and collect a few necessary items to help get him to the air supply generators and save all the 'Martians'. (Told you it wasn't much of a plot)

The game is split into five levels, of which 1, 2 and 5 ace platform-and-ladders shoot-'em-up-cum-punch-'em-up jobbies, and 2 and 4 are sort of 'glue' sections which stick the others together and take the form of car chase sequences (What? Exactly like Batman? How dare you! Well I suppose a bit like Batman...)

The first shoot-'em-up level more or less sets the blueprint for the others. It's set in a sort ofr space-age interior city with loads of lifts, force-fields and odd little switches dotted around the place. Arnie's job (he's called Doug Quaid in the movie, but we all know he's really Arnie) is to collect a briefcase and work out the settings of switches he needs to get onto the next level. These cause bridges and steps to appear (or disappear), allowing you to reach certain parts of the screen that you couldn't just a minute ago (all the while shooting lots of extremely rude chappies who are always trying to blam you!).

Level 3's pretty much the same (only harder and set in a warehouse), but Level 5 does at least try a bit (this is the one on Mars) and we get treated to a brand-new backdrop and layout (jolly exciting), and some different baddies.

As for the car chase bits, well, they're generally easier (there's no puzzle element) and less endearing. They're just fast-scrolling highway blast-'em-ups really, a case of getting from A to B to carry on looking for collectibles.


Well, not at all bad actually! The car bits are a pretty standard, but the platform sequences are very tricky and playable. They've got the difficulty level pitched just right - instead of having numerous lives you're only given one per level, and all those are up against the clock! The graphics are spanky too - they've got a really nice blocky and bouncy feel to them. (For example, when you die you explode in a kind of splat of gory goo. Eurgh!)

But there is a problem (In fact, some of the more observant Trainspotters among you might have picked up on it already.) You see, Total Recall is not the game it was supposed to be! (Eh? Reader's voice) Perhaps I'd better explain...

Anyone who read Matt's Megapreview in the November ish will realise that, though the original Speccy version was very similar (same types of level and gameplay), this is a much scaled-down and simpler game than we were led to expect. (And Lord knows we've waited long enough! The first ads for this appeared in the October ish, over 6 months ago!) We're not too sure what went wrong, but we do know it was given to a different programmer at the very last minute and he had to chum it out in three weeks! It's a shame because with a few more bits and bobs the game would've had a good stab at getting a Megagame as it stands it's all a bit thin on the ground. (Like a B-movie game with an A-movie licence really - if you see what I mean.)

Still, although Total Recall won't knock your socks off, it is fast and addictive, and Ocean should at least be congratulated for releasing a more-than-competent game when they were up against such very hefty odds. (And well done to you, Mr Schwarzenegger, sir, your highness - er, please don't point that thing at me...).

Life Expectancy: 84%
Instant Appeal: 84%
Graphics: 87%
Addictiveness: 83%
Overall: 84%

Summary: A great game, but not quite as big as 'Big' Arnie himself. (It's not too easy either.)

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 82, October 1992   page(s) 52

The first thing you need to know about Total Recall is that it's not 48K compatible, so now could be the time to cast aside your faithful rubber-keyed friend and replace him with one of those new, hot-off-the-press 128K super-computers. Not only will your friends be impressed beyond belief, but you'll also be able to load up this, one of dear old Ocean's finer film tie-ins.

Needless to say, the instant the programmers were told that they had to write a film tie-in, they rushed home and wrote a game where you're a little man who has to run around shooting things. It's not a straight shoot-'em-up, mind you, as a puzzle element has been introduced as well in the form of switches - certain switches have to be pulled as you progress to remove barriers, initiate platforms etc to open up new parts of the map. To tell the truth, it reminds me of the Dan Dare series of games more than anything - but where they were fast, colourful and action-packed, Total Recall seems a little slow, monochrome and dull in comparison. Progressing through the game merely consists of commiting the map and order of switch-pulling to memory as, providing, you don't time things embarrassingly wrong, you should be able to jump all the traps and kill all the baddies with hardly a scratch. Personally, I prefer my games to have a little more excitement and unpredictability to them but what the heck, it's still quite good fun.

This then is the basic idea behind Levels One, Three and Five. They've got different graphics, but exactly the same sort of gameplay. Levels Two and Four provide a small break in the form of a sideways-scrolling car chase/shoot, but it's nothing special (in fact, it's rather crap). So then. (So then indeed. Ed) What have we got? A neat little plaftormy shoot-'em-up (with an unpleasant driving bit in between levels), that's what. Why not, eh?

Overall: 76%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Super Games Guide Issue 134, April 1993   page(s) 18,19

Total Recall
Label: Hit Squad
Memory: 128K Only
Price: Tape £3.99

This game-of-the-film has Arnie Schwarzenegger journeying to Mars to find his true identity and kill plenty of bad guys. The result is an excellent mix of platform exploration and shoot 'em up as you guide Arnie through a series of levels based on scenes from the Movie.

The graphics and sound are top-notch and combined with the excellent gameplay make this one of the best licensed games on the Spectrum.

Overall: 92%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 109, March 1991   page(s) 26,43

How do you do justice to the biggest, most expensive, most explosive film ever? How do you squeeze Arnold Schwarzenegger into a Spectrum? How do you get an entire planet, a megacorporation, a band of mutants, lots of explosions and a Martian colony onto a cassette? I dunno.

Somehow, ace programmers James Higgins, Simon Butler and Warren Lancashire have done the business for Total Recall.

In the movie, futuristic construction worker Doug Quaid goes to a Total Recall shop to experience an electronically-induced fantasy of a Martian holiday. But the treatment revives his hidden memories of his life as a secret agent on Mars, and he travels there on a quest to recover his real identity. This involves an enormous amount of shooting, chasing, exploding, mutating and mutilating, and you'll be pleased to hear that all this action is preserved in the game.

The graphics look GREAT - better even than the preview graphics we saw a couple of months ago (they've been completely revised since then). The corridors of the Martian colony are full of walkways, platforms, huge rotating fans, pressure pads, crevasses, bubbling lava, flashing danger signs, objects to collect and hidden deathtraps.

He Quaid sprite is great - stocky, muscular and well animated. And the Corporation thugs who bar his way crumple satisfyingly when you thump them or shoot them. An even better effect is when you get killed, as your body decompresses and explodes messily into bits of gloppy splat... Yuck.

You start off in an Earth habitat armed with your fists and a gun; an indicator on the bottom of the screen shows you which is currently selected (you change by holding down the fire button and moving the joystick down). You have ten bullets to start with, but more can be found along the way.

You also hove to collect five objects including a briefcase, identity card and so on; these are shown in windows as you pick them up. There's also a score display and a timer.

Arrows point your way through the maze of walkways, indicating the direction in which elevator platforms will move. But it 's not this simple; energy barriers bar your way, and these have to be deactivated by kicking switches. The tricky bit is that having passed one barrier you sometimes have to go back to kick the switch again, to deactivate a later hazard; and if you're not careful you can trap yourself between an energy barrier and a wall, with a life-threatening shock being the only way to get out.

If you complete the first phase you catch an automated Johnnycab and race to the spaceport. The horizontally-scrolling vehicle racing routine is a bit of a filler; there's not much skill or excitement in dodging or blowing up the pursuing vehicles. Still, it's a bit of variety. The next section takes place in the Martian spaceport, then there's another road race to the rebel base, another platform level as you search for precious oxygen in the sleazy slum areas of the Domes, and eventually you get to confront the head of the rebels, defeat the evil Cohaagen and save Mars - cheers cheers!

I Make no mistake, Total Recall is as much a block-bustin' computer game as it was a movie. It will keep you snarling with excitement and growling with frustration as you battle it out with gun-goons, suss the deathtraps and race against time to get yer right brains back. As Arnie might say "Get it, or i'LL get YOU!"

Label: Ocean
Memory: 48K/128K
Price: £10.99
Code: James Higgins
Sprites: Simon Butler
Backgrounds: Warren Lancashire
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

Graphics: 90%
Sound: 93%
Playability: 89%
Lastability: 89%
Overall: 91%

Summary: It's as big as Mars, twice as nasty with tons of atmosphere - Total Recall is a triumph - superb gameplay, great graphics and super sound make for a classic game.

Award: Sinclair User Gold

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 127, September 1992   page(s) 38

If you ask me, I don't think it's humanly possible for one man to be the size of Arnie Schwarzenegger. I reckon he's really two smaller men standing on top of each other in a latex costume; one called Mr. Schwarz and the other Mr. Negger.

But enough about my theories, onto the Hit Squad's latex... sorry, latest muscle bound re-release. Total Recall (if you recall) was the biggest and most successful film of 1990, and was the most expensive film ever made until Terminator 2. As with all of Arnie's recent films, the special FX and stunt sequences are amazing, and this flick has to be one of my all time favourite movies.

There are five massive levels, three shoot 'em up-cum-beat 'em up platformers and two horizontally scrolling car chases.

The platform levels (1, 3 and 5) are absolutely excellent, with wonderful monochrome graphics and fantastic sound. The sprites are massive and as smooth as a new born baby bum, and there's a nice puzzley element to do with turning on and off switches to open and close various doors and force fields.

However, as with virtually all of Ocean's film tie-ins, we have two obligatory car chase levels (2 and 4) to split the game up a bit. Although this does add variety and help break the game up, it is a little on the naff side.

This by no means ruins the game - these two levels just act as in-between refreshers in which you can prepare yourself for the next big platformer. If you treat them as space-fillers, you won be disappointed.

Today Total Recall still stands as a top quality piece of software. Taking this into account alongside the fact that it's now available for four pounds, I'm going to knock the score up a little! C'mon Ocean, don't forget our Speccies! When games are produced as good, playable and cheap as this, who needs a console or a 16-bit?

Label: Hit Squad
Memory: 48K/128K
Price: £3.99 Tape
Reviewer: Marc Richards

ALAN: Uzi Nine Millimeter, I'm looking for Sarah Connor, asta la vista baby, come with me if you want to live, give me your clothes, he'll live, surprise, I lied! This eez ein gut game. I'm sure Big Arn vood make with zer playing Total Recall eef he had ein Spectrum, mien Gott.

Graphics: 92%
Sound: 91%
Playability: 90%
Lastability: 89%
Overall: 92%

Summary: Although I think that this format of movie-game has gone a bit stale through over use and abuse in titles like Robocop 2, Terminator 2, etc, Total Recall is still a real gem and has deservedly earned itself a Best Budget title. Well worth having.

Award: Sinclair User Best Budget

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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