Trantor: The Last Stormtrooper

by Probe Software Ltd: David Quinn, Nick Bruty, Alan Tomkins, David Whittaker
Crash Issue 46, November 1987   (1987-10-29)   page(s) 116,117

Trantor, the last stormtrooper, is abandoned on an alien planet. By activating the main planetary computer held in the terminal building, our hero can escape his imprisonment.

Trantor finds himself near the terminal building's lift, and to progress further he must run, duck and jump his way past a series of vertically pounding pneumatic hammers. All this time his bootsteps are dogged by myriad hovering droids and robots, which can be blasted from the air by the flame-thrower that Trantor carries.

To provide further aid, our hero can search any locker that he passes; when a helpful item is collected a suitable icon is displayed at the top of the screen.

There are eight terminals in the complex, each of which provides a letter. The letters must be made up into a computer-related word. This can then be keyed into the main computer terminal. (A time limit means that there is no time for dawdling in any sector, but discovering a letter resets the time clock.)

Once he's assembled the word Trantor is given a beam code which he can use in the beam area to complete his mission.

Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: beautiful - large and colourful, though this results in lot of clash
Sound: brilliant synthesised 4-channel sound - even on the 48K version
Options: definable keys

'Trantor has excellent presentation; the loading screen is a work of art, and the sequence just after the game has loaded, where the little man gets out of the space ship, runs along and trips up, is brilliant. I was quite impressed by the in-game presentation, too; the sound is very good, and the graphics are large and well-coloured, though there's an awful lot of clash. But it's annoying that Trantor refuses to jump and fire at the same time, because half the aliens come at you from head height! It's easy but unplayable, and thus unaddictive. I don't think anyone's going to splash out £8.99 for a nice intro demo.'
MIKE ... 52%

'Trantor has fantastic graphics but it takes some getting used to. Death comes almost instantly after you've started the game, because most of the nasties are out of your reach yet can easily take your energy. It soon becomes tedious starting the game over and over and over and over and over again and again and again'
BYM ... 68%

There's no doubting that the graphical appeal and presentation of Trantor is very strong, but it might not have lasting appeal to match. The biggest problem is the lack of variation. Nearly all the time is spent running and shooting - both of which require little skill - and practically no time at all is required for any problem using grey matter. Trantor would have been much better if Probe Software had spent as much time on the concept of Trantor as they obviously did on the graphics and animation'
PAUL ... 82%

Presentation: 80%
Graphics: 85%
Playability: 66%
Addictiveness: 61%
Overall: 68%

Summary: General Rating: Excellent presentation and graphics conceal shallow gameplay.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 64, May 1989   (1989-04-27)   page(s) 31

The troop ship left and you are now up the proverbial creek without a paddle. The only way to escape is by finding the NIK security terminal and tapping in a computer related word. How do you discover the word you ask, simply tap into the eight sub terminals scattered around the underground complex you now find yourself in. A ninety second timer, a flame thrower and lots of aliens are all that you have for company. Obviously if the time runs out it's end of game, but when each terminal is reached the timer is reset, so ft's a race to get from point to point rather than complete the game in one go.

Trantor - The Last Stormtrooper is certainly graphically very pretty, a large, well defined character sprite strolls around the variety of caverns, roasting any and all scaley denizen who dares to show its face. Gameplay is tough but not quite as impressive, the denizens attack you a bit too mercilessly for my liking and this left me with a vague 'why bother?' sort of feeling. Take a look though, you might like it.

Then: 68% Now: 56%

Overall: 56%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 24, December 1987   page(s) 42

Platform games are something I don't spend much time thinking about. When you've seen one you've seen 'em all, right? Well, not quite. If you can have massive sprites, and detailed scrolling backgrounds then it makes you wake up. If you see a complex arcade adventure scenario in the game, it makes you sit up and take notice. But if it's also the fastest and hardest arcade blast 'em up you've seen for a long time, you start reaching for your joystick. Trantor is all these things, and works on these different levels (no pun intended) brilliantly. The graphics are top notch, and the animation very smooth and lifelike, considering the size of the graphics.

You take on the role of Trantor, a stormtrooper in command of an earth ship sent to a strange alien planet to retrieve stolen missile plans. Two things complicate the mission: firstly the planet is overrun with horrid, slimy and vicious alien creatures. Secondly, as Trantor leaves the ship, it blows up taking all his men with it, leaving him alone to complete the task. The Earth's mission controllers wanted to blow up the ship after the mission, destroying the soldiers and the plans so that it would remain secret. But the bomb goes off early, and now Trantor is alone and it's a race against time. You see, stormtroopers have bodybombs, microscopic explosive devices implanted under the skin, and at a given signal they start counting down to explode. Trantor's is counting down, which means he's got to work fast. He runs down the corridors of the underground alien complex, blasting aliens with his powerful flame thrower, in a frenzied race to discover the code sequence to the matter transporter, his only means of escape. Along the way, he discovers computer terminals, which, by means of a communications link to Earth, reset his body-bomb and give him one of the letters of the code. By hopping between these he can prolong his life just long enough to reach his goal, bobbing down to avoid low flying aliens and picking up first aid kits, computer pass keys and energy giving food.

It's the graphics on this game that really make it something out of the ordinary, but the sound, especially the title screen music, is superbly done. (Snouty Tip: record the title screen music onto a C10 tape and play it during the game for maximum enjoyment!) The game is hard if you just play it as a shoot 'em up, but much more satisfying if you go for the full arcade adventure bit. Wonderful entertainment and worth much more than the asking price. Buy it!

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

Summary: An original and brilliantly programmed shoot 'em up, with more action than the average joystick can comfortably cope with!

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 42, June 1989   page(s) 42

First reviewed in December 1987 this was the first game we ever saw from Probe, and now reappears - as things do - on this 'ere Kixx thing. It's a shoot 'em up in the Spanish style - lots of lovely graphics, attractive backgrounds and nasties, but a little thin on gameplay. Trantor has 90 seconds before bodybombs sewn under his skin (yuk) explode, during which time he must run through the corridors of an underground alien complex, blasting nasties with his flamethrower, in a frenzied race to discover the code sequence to the matter transporter, his only means of escape.

Along the way he discovers computer terminals which give him one of the letters of the code and reset his bodybomb, and by hopping between these he can prolong his life just long enough to reach his goal, bobbing down to avoid low-flying aliens and picking up first aid kits, computer pass kits and energy-giving food. All good fun, and indeed last time round Phil gave it a Megagame, mainly, I think, because of the stupendous graphics. But time is cruel. While the backgrounds, aliens and particularly Trantor himself look fabbo, the gameplay now seems ever so slightly tedious - and it's hard in a frustrating rather than an invigorating way. Still, I carp - or even herring. For three nicker it's still a birrova steal, and blast fanatics could do much worse.

Overall: 7/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 69, December 1987   page(s) 104,105

Why, oh why (Point of View phrase there) can't we live together in peace and harmony. That's all the Universe wants, just a bit of quiet. But, oh no there's always another rogue planet needing a hero. This time it's Nebulithone and the hero is Trantor who has to stamp out the threat of universal domination again.

Upon loading you are shown a short sequence depicting Trantor's ship landing on the planet. And what a ship. The graphics are amazing. The ground scrolls up to meet it. When it lands, bouncing on its landing gear, a small figure emerges, waves (hi Trantor) and then is thrown to the ground as the ship explodes.

The menu sequence then appears, with all the usual options such as joystick of keyboard selection and define keys. This would not be worth mentioning if it were not for the very impressive layout and attention to detail. An inrush of stars forms the Probe logo which then flips and drops to the bottom of the screen. Then four pseudo-digitised icons appear to form the options and very smoothly flip if and when selected The title music that plays is good, even excellent.

I have had my Spectrum for 3 years now, but was in no way prepared for the quality of the game that had been crammed into 48K. It starts with Trantor standing next to the lift he came down on. What a fine specimen of a sprite he is too. Fully 8 character blocks high, if not more, he makes the characters of Street Fighter look small. Trantor is excellently designed, standing in a traditional Arnold Salt-and-Pepper pose, with his feet slightly apart and his flame-thrower lovingly cradled in his arms. It can fire just over half the distance between him and the edge of the screen, sometimes that's enough... As ever the denizens of the planet have to be wiped out. Some of them don't want to be.

The planet is made up of a network consisting of a maze of corridors connected by lifts. Floating round the corridors are the assorted bad guys. Some are robot eyes that hover above you for a couple of seconds and then dive at you, some are fishlike and swim around aimlessly. Contact with any of them drains energy so shoot immediately and apologise later.

The highlight of the game for me is the animation of Trantor. His running is the most realistic I have seen on any 8-bit computer and even bears comparison with some of the 16-bit stuff. His body actually moves up and down when he runs and his jumps are akin to those of Tal, in Sacred Armour of Antiriad, only bigger.

The game is pretty simple - that's not a criticism. Just run around shooting things and searching lockers and computers for an 8 letter password that will blow up the planet - shades of Impossible Mission. To get letters, search computers, of which there is one in nearly every corridor. You'll also find lockers. These may contain items which may either help or hinder.

Most of the corridors look alike - endless metallic alleyways. There is one, though, which is my personal favourite, which looks like it has been carved from solid rock. The walls are curved and have a particularly rocky feel to them.

Should Trantor run out of energy or time, he then collapses in a heap and explodes into static. Possibly the best death sequence ever seen on a micro...

Congratulations to Probe for the coding and if Go! continue at this high standard, it'll wipe out the competition.

Label: Go!
Author: Probe
Price: £8.99/£12.99 disc
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Tony Dillon

Overall: 10/10

Summary: Fire-shooting fun with excellent gameplay and some of the best animated graphics seen on the Spectrum.

Award: Sinclair User Classic

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 86, May 1989   page(s) 56

Another re-release, this time of a reasonably deserving multi-level in which a heroic star trooper takes on hordes of evil aliens. The gimmick here is that instead of being armed with your common or garden proton megablaster, Trantor has a thumping big flamethrower to see off the flying, hopping and crawling beasties, and he uses it to very good effect. You can almost smell the roasting aliens.

The problem with this game is that the action is non-stop, and the backgrounds of underground installations are quite fetching, there's little variation. All you do is run along the corridors, toasting everything that moves, looking for oxygen and fuel stations to help you get on to the next elevator. The eventual aim is to activate eight security terminals, then rearrange the code letters obtained into a phrase which will help you to escape from the planet.

Apart from the opening sequence which is very tedious to sit through after the first time, Trantor is as good a way as any as wasting a wet Wednesday afternoon.

Label: Kixx
Author: US Gold
Price: £2.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

Overall: 68%

Summary: Big sprites, lots of action but some gameplay faults.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE Issue 3, December 1987   page(s) 68

Young guns GO! for it.

Abandoned on an alien planet, Trantor has to fight his way to freedom in this arcade action game. You control Trantor and must guide him on his quest to collect the 8 letters of a code word that he needs in order to escape.

The sideways-on view of this alien planet takes you through several levels of tunnels, which Trantor must negotiate in his search-and-destroy quest for eight letters of a codeword needed to escape the planet.

At the top of the screen is a timer which counts down from 90 to zero. Each tunnel has at least one terminal containing a letter for the code word, and Trantor has to reach this before the time runs out - more than a few shades of Impossible Mission.

There's a flame-thrower to aid Trantor in his fight against the various flying aliens, contact with which will reduce your energy level. An energy top-up is available in the shape of hamburgers, found in lockers on the various levels. Other goodies include devices to set the timer back to 90 and fuel replenishments for the flamethrower.

Trantor has some very crisp and colourful graphics, which when combined with the smooth animation add atmosphere to the game, but this is maned by weak and uninspired sound. Trantor also lets itself down simply because the aliens are almost impossible to destroy, at least if you still hope to reach a terminal in the alloted time. The random distribution of the goodies in the lockers means that even if you know your way around it's very much left to chance whether you'll get a hamburger in time or not.

Frustration with over-frequent deaths may put you off to begin with, but once you've overcome this initial barrier you'll find completing the game far too easy for it to provide anything like a lasting challenge.

Reviewer: Andy Smith

C64/128, £9.99s, £14.99dk, Imminent
Spec, £8.99cs, Reviewed
Ams, £9.99s, £14.99dk, Imminent

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 80/100
1 hour: 40/100
1 day: 60/100
1 week: 50/100
1 month: 20/100
1 year: 0/100

Visual Effects: 6/7
Audio: 4/7
IQ Factor: 3/7
Fun Factor: 4/7
Ace Rating: 517/1000

Summary: Initial frustration gives way to short-lived enjoyment.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 74, December 1987   page(s) 36

MACHINES: Spectrum 48/128/+3/Amstrad/C64/Atari ST
PRICE: £8.99 (Spectrum), £12.99 (+3), £9.99 (C64/Ams), £11.99/£14.99 (C64/Ams discs)
VERSIONS TESTED: Spectrum/Amstrad

Where's that terminal! The clock is running down too fast there've too many damn aliens in the way my ammo and energy are running low and I'm real close to destroying the bomb! It's action all the way as the Got label kicks off with a real winner.

Trantor gives you arcade action with a capital A! And it's probably the best game the Amstrad has seen for a long time.

The scenario goes like this. Trantor is the sole survivor from a team of stormtroopers sent to the planet Nebulithon to destroy the deadly Quark Mk3 bomb and restore peace and harmony to the galaxy.

Someone sabotaged the stormtroopers' ship which was destroyed as soon as it landed in the underground complex where the bomb is hidden.

Trantor escaped - but faces an additional hazard apart from the alien defence systems. His bosses implanted all the troops with a special bionic body-bomb just to make sure they completed the mission and came back without pinching the bomb for their own evil schemes.

This means that Trantor has to dash between security terminals in the underground complex resetting the timer on his body bomb. He gets just 90 seconds to dash between the terminals which also dish out other goodies-like energy giving food, ammo and the all-important security letters which, made up into a whole password, will give you your beam code used to escape this hostile environment.

In between you must fight off hoardes of droid defenders and some awesome looking Alien-type creatures.

Run, shoot, duck and dodge your way through the ever changing tunnel complex. Search the lockers for extra equipment and watch out for the eight computer terminals.

Without the code you're dead. It's easy to access the terminals - no fiddling about with keyboard controls.

Just position Trantor in front of the terminal and pull down on the joystick. The screen changes and you see a print out of the code letter you've discovered as your time clock resets.

Access the lockers and the game freezes while the contents are displayed in the status readout at the top of the screen.

Animation and graphics are excellent on both Spectrum and Amstrad versions. And gameplay is totally addictive. The Amstrad game is one of the most colourful and action packed that machine has ever seen.

Watch out for the animated loading sequence which shows Trantor's ship slowly landing - and then detonating, leaving our hero all alone on the plane.

At the end of each attempt you get a percentage rating and a cute comment on your performance. See if you can spot the rude remark about Fergus McGovern - the boss of the programming team Probe software.

Sound isn't bad, specially on the + 3. Trantor is a fine debut for a new label - and if this is the shape of things to come expect big things from Go!

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

Award: C+VG Hit

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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