Reviewer: Tony Worrall
Dan Dare's back, and what a completely skill follow-up to the original. Just a couple games was enough to convince me that Dan Dare II is the first megagame of 1988. If it doesn't top the charts in the next few months I'll eat my pet hamster (lightly fried, with chips and peas)!
Dan's mission is no easier his first outing on the Spectrum. The evil and thoroughly green Mekon is still up to his diabolical tricks. His plan this time is to invade the Earth with an army of mighty Supertreens - a new race of green tinted super beings genetically engineered by the Mekon himself.
These creatures have been placed in protective life support capsules aboard a vast and powerful space ship. This ship is fast approaching the Earth and it is Dan's unenviable task to put his foot down with a firm hand, and show the green ones, once and for all, who's the boss.
The Mekon's ship is made up of four separate sections, each containing a certain number of Supertreens. Dan must search out and destroy all of the life support cells in each section before gaining access to the next. The Mekon has filled the space ship with traps, force fields, and all manner of bits and bobs designed to slow down any potential attacker (oh, and there is a time limit to beat once the first Supertreen has had its comfy nest blown to smithereens). The Mekon has also installed a generous helping of normal Treens, but to combat this threat Dan can call upon his own troops, scattered about the space craft.
As in the original, Dan can find objects to help him in his task. Extra firepower and energy are the most useful. Getting around the maze of tunnels could prove a bit expensive in terms of time, so in Dan Dare II our hero is fitted with a cool jetbike. The trouble with this is trying to handlle the 'realistic' bike movements! Precious seconds can be lost while you frantically try to squeeze into a new corridor, or pass over strong magnetic currents. Of course this is part of the game. It makes it frustrating and extremely addictive at the same time.
The graphics have to be seen to be believed. They are simply amongst some of the best I have ever seen on the ol' pregnant calculator. In my opinion they knock spots off the original Dan Dare game, and that was terrific! The game is choc-a-block full of brilliant little programming touches, such as the Supertreens thumbsucking animation, flickering backgrounds and computer panels, and refuse crunchers. Each a joy to sit and watch (if you have time!). Pop-up captions infrom you how you're doing, and a frightening explosion ends the game if your progress has been exceptionally bad.
If you are totally bored with playing the good guy all the time, there's an absolutely spiffing option that lets you play the Mekon himself. But beware - this makes the game so hard that it is best left to experienced (or heroic) players.
Everything from the loading screen to the end sequence has been lovingly crafted by the programming team, and it feels as though the game has had a pretty thorough play-testing. Action is non-stop and swear-inducing, and about as playable and addictive as anyone could wish for. Could this be the prefect Spectrum game? If not, I bet you could count better games on the finger of one hand!
I loved Dan Dare, and I simply adore Dan Dare II. I might as well go out and buy 100 gallons of midnight oil, because there is no way I am going to put this game down until I have beaten that dastardly Mekon once and for all! See you in about two years (if I'm lucky!).
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