The Mekon is back. Yes, the extra terrestrial with a head the shape of a tefal superbrain (or Barry Norman), is out to end the career of the Indiana Jones of the cosmos - Dan Dare.
The evil Mekon's greatest wish is to conquer the Earth and to these ends the mutant mastermind had carried out a series of horrific Treenisation experiments. Well, our gene juggling genius, he ain't so clever 'cos all the creatures he tried it on came out as twisted mutations so he decided to get a human subject and who better than our space hero Dan Dare? So, Dan is kidnapped whilst he's asleep and wakes to find himself onboard the Mekon's huge satellite. Dan makes an escape and finds a jetpack, a laser rifle and a ship - just the thing to get him back home - but first he needs an extra 50lbs of fuel to get him safely to Earth and in the absence of a BP station he must fight his way through the satellite to find it.
This is where you come in. You must guide Colonel Dare around the satellite and find the fuel whilst avoiding or blasting the mutated results of the Mekon's horrific experiments.
There are 5 levels to Dan Dare III and you start off in the store which contains a booster for your jet pack, a teleport pad and a computer terminal from which you can buy more ammo, smart bombs, bouncing bombs and even extra lives. Access is jealously guarded by the Mekon and you must first shoot him to bits, forcing him to teleport to the next level and leave behind the teleport pod you need in order to get to the next level.
Your weapons are all displayed as icons when in use. The laser rifle has three levels of power. Rapid firing gives the least effective bolts but by holding the fire button, the rifle builds up power which is released by letting go.
Selection of each icon is by nudging down on the joystick until the correct icon is displayed. Pressing fire will then activate or unleash the current weapon.
To move from level to level (or back to the store), shuffle onto the far right edge of the teleport, select the correct icon and then pull down. The screen then changes to a Master of the Lamp type of affair where you try to steer Dan through the tunnel of squares. Each time you miss a square. Dan receives the equivalent of 10,000 volts up his trouser leg and looses the appropriate amount of energy.
Dan Dare III is a superlative game. The colour graphics are unquestioningly brilliant and the game itself is a masterpiece of design. It merely remains to say that anyone not buying Dan Dare III is several jam butties short of a picnic.
Reviewer: Garth Sumpter
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