4th Dimension Maze Games CD
This month we look at a collection of maze games, some good, some not so good, this CD includes the following 10 games:
As with the previous 4th Dimension CD collections, installation is easy, simply follow the on screen instructions and the games will soon be installed on your hard disc.
Spobbleoid is, for me, the star of the compilation. I always liked this game when it was first released, and it is good to see it back again, updated for the newer machines. You take control of Spobbleoid who is described as a small robotic orange, and you have to guide Spobbleoid around a number of levels collecting all the objects which have been stolen by evil alien pepperpots!
The game is easy to play, the early levels are very simple, you have to collect up all the objects on each screen before the time limit runs out and then you can move onto the next level. The game screen scrolls up and downwards so the actual playing area is several times larger than the what is displayed on your screen.
There are a number of different objects that must be collected before the time runs out the objects are mainly fruit and food but there are also other objects to collect which include small spobbleoids which give you an extra life. Speed up pills which make you move quicker, Flasks which give temporary invulnerability to monsters and also clocks which will reset the time.
In order to obtain all the objects on each screen various blocks and hazards will get in your way, you need to collect keys to open doors, these are all colour coded so you need the right one for the right doors.
You can push most blocks around the screen providing there is nothing in their way, some blocks do not move and some have special properties. If a block has a screw in the middle it will not move, a block with arrows on them can only be moved in the direction of the arrow. There are also timelock blocks which, once the timer has run, out you cannot move. There are also a number of other types of block, but I'll let you discover them for yourself.
It is very easy to mess up a level and push blocks into the wrong place, run out of time or trap one of the collectible objects, so many of the levels need a bit of practice to figure out the correct route through.
Monsters feature on most of the levels, and they can easily be disposed of by shoving a block in their general direction to hear a satisfying splat noise indicating they are no more! In the early levels you don't need to kill them, only if you have the urge to, but on later levels all monsters need squashing before you can finish the level.
Spobbleoid is controlled with the keyboard, just direction keys and a push block key, the game is also joystick compatible with an A3010 just in case anyone is interested.
The visuals of Spobbleoid are excellent and they still look good now, with plenty of attention to detail. They are colourful and effective. The game was written by the author of Enter The Realm, so it is not surprising to see quality graphics here. The levels of the game are divided up into zones - each zone has it's own theme. For example there is a Sweet Shop, Woodland, Haunted House and Fairground. Each has different background graphics, as you progress through these zones different obstacles will appear as the difficulty level increases.
Between each zone there is a bonus game in which you have to guess the ingredients which make up a milkshake. Guess correctly and you are rewarded, guess wrong and you aren't! This section reminded me a bit of the old children's classic TV show Bod where in one of the sub-programmes Alberto frog had a milkshake and you had to guess the flavour. The zones are passworded but to complete the game properly you have to go from start to finish in one go !
As with all of Graeme Richardson's RISC OS games, the audio is excellent, there are some really good tunes played during the game. These sound even better with the external speakers turned up.
Each zone has it's own tune, and there are plenty of in game noises with the pepperpot things grunting, a good splat noise when you kill them, a loud alarm when the time runs out and many other effects.
Also included is a level designer so once you have finished the supplied levels, you can make your own. Did anybody ever make any additional levels?
Overall Spobbleoid Fantasy is an excellent game. The sound and visuals are superb and the game itself is great fun to play, easy to get into with a good learning curve. This compilation is worth having just for this game! Highly recommended.
Note for VirtualRiscPC users only - There is a problem running Spobbleoid on VRPC. It will work but you will need to create an additional hard disc. To do this go to !Boot>discs>adfs discs and then change the Hardisc value from 0 to 1 - OK it , and on the icon bar you should now have a new hard disc called "IDEDISC4". Put the Spobbleoid directory and it's contents on that drive and then the game will run perfectly, on the normal hard disc the game keeps asking for a floppy disc to be inserted which obviously you can't being as this is a CD-ROM collection! This hard disc setup is on RISC OS Select 3i3 but the principle is the same on all other variations of RISC OS.
MAN AT ARMS
This is an early RISC OS game, from 1990, and it is a scrolling maze game set in medieval times. The object of the game is to take over each of the four castles, which are spread over four levels. Once a castle is taken the level is complete and you move on to the next one. A castle is taken by achieving a certain number of points. These points are gained by killing enemies and collecting treasure. You are also against the clock, so when your time runs out you will lose a life.
Playing the game is relatively straight forward. You control the character (who looks a bit like a cross between a gladiator and He-man) with the keyboard, mouse or a joystick. I found the keyboard the best option for this, although I haven't tested it with a joystick, but I doubt I would have preferred it over keyboard control. You can move left, right, up and down and also have a sword at your disposal to get rid of any enemies who get in the way.
This sword is also used to remove certain parts of the scenery in order to progress further into the level. However this is limited so make sure you use the sword to destroy the correct parts of the landscape otherwise you will have to start again. Potions are also available which can make you invincible for a short period of time.
There are many objects that you will encounter during the game. These all have different characteristics and you need to understand how they behave in order to deal with them. For example, stone boulders will fall downwards if unsupported (sounds familiar that one!). Wood panels when pushed will fall downwards providing what is beneath isn't solid otherwise they won't go anywhere.
Hourglasses provide valuable extra time. Thorns will grow and block off areas so you need to stop them from doing so. There are lots of other objects on the levels which will help or hinder your progress, some aren't even documented in the instruction manual so who knows what else lurks out there!!
The levels are large and it will take a while to work your way through them. It's a pity there is no map available (unless I missed it) as that would have been very helpful to working out the route through the level. Maybe that's the point; not including a map makes it more challenging.
A password facility is available so you can jump early levels, although to complete the game properly I would imagine you have to complete all four levels one after another as this usually seems to be the case.
The graphics of Man At Arms are reasonably good. They don't look particularly dated, and I thought that all the characters and items look like what they are supposed to be; snakes, barrels, shields to name but a few.
On the audio side of things you have a choice. You can have just music playing and there are five available tunes, or you can have just the sound effects instead. The music is a bit too fast so a program such as !Vsync will do the job and play it at the correct speed. The tunes are medieval sounding in style and suit the game well.
Overall this isn't a bad game, but I didn't find it to be a particularly good one either. I found it a bit annoying and difficult to get into and to progress through the levels, I usually like games like this but just was something with this that I couldn't get on with, but not sure what it was really.
At the time of writing I, unfortunately, have no instructions for this game. So I have no proper idea of what this game is about or the exact aim of it all, however after playing it a few times I think I have figured out what this game is all about.
You are controlling what looks like a Hamster around a maze (surely it's a groundhog - Ed), and the object is to get to the exit. However access to the exit is restricted by a number of doors. These need to be opened in order to pass through and continue on your way. This is not as easy as it sounds and this is where the name of the game Groundhog comes in.
When you begin the game you will notice there is a white clock in the top right hand corner, this is your time limit on the level. You need to do as much as possible in order to help yourself complete the level, so your first task is to make sure you step on the pressure points which release doors. There are two of these to go for, a green one with a triangle on and another green one with a # on. Make sure you go over both of these so you are not restricted to only one door.
When the time runs out another hamster (no it's another groundhog - Ed) will appear on the screen and will follow exactly the same route around the maze that your hamster has just done (hence the name Groundhog). This is the trick to get through the doors, so once hamster number two comes onto the screen you head for a door and when the second hamster steps onto the pressure point the door will open and you can now go through either the triangle door or the # door. Either one will do the choice is yours.
Now you are in the other part of the maze and the next task is to step on the green circle pressure point. Then you need to go back to one of the other doors then wait for the third hamster to appear. Once this hamster appears it will copy everything that your hamster has done so far, and when it steps onto the pressure pads you can go through the door from the first time and then it will step on the green circular pressure point then you can go through the door and get to the exit and the level is complete!
Each time the time limit runs out another hamster will appear and the whole screen can get very congested. Do not come into contact with any of the other hamsters, if you do you will lose a life. Your hamster is equipped with a gun of some sort and this seems to be used to dispose of nasty creatures on later levels, as I saw it on the demo mode. Sdo not shoot another hamster (because you would be shooting yourself- Ed) with it or you lose a life!
The game is easy to play and despite the lack of instructions it didn't take me too long to figure out what to do in the game and complete the first level, the hamster is controlled by the keyboard with directional keys and Return to fire, there maybe other keys used but I don't know what they might be unfortunately.
The graphics of Groundhog are OK and suit the game quite well. The sounds of the game include a continuous backing track and some in game sound effects of a hamster squeaking noise, door sliding noises and gunfire.
Overall Groundhog isn't a particularly amazing game but it is certainly different from your usual maze games. It is a challenging game to play and it is worth watching the demo mode to see how the levels work and how you can complete levels as it's the same idea for each level. Certainly worth giving it a go.
As the title of this game suggests it might have something to do with the lack of gravity, and this is indeed the case. You control a small craft around an Oxygen plant which is having a bit of trouble. You have to get the filters working again which provide oxygen to all underwater accommodation.
The game is therefore set under water and each level is a maze and you have to navigate your way round each maze resetting the filters. This is done by positioning your craft above the filter and landing on top of them to reset them. There are a number of them on each level and when they are all working again the level is complete.
Playing the game is quite difficult as the gravity means your craft always moves downwards so you have to constantly boost it back upwards otherwise you'll crash. Any contact with the wall means a life lost. When you lose a life there is a small time of invulnerability to help prevent you from immediately crashing into another wall !
Graphically the game isn't that impressive. There are bits of seaweed to give the impression of being in the sea, and some bubbles floating about, but other than that it's quite basic. As for the sounds, well there is a reasonably jolly tune on the title page, plus a background tune in the game. The in-game sound effects are well done which include breathing noises and a bubbling noise to give the impression of being in water - it works well and sounds good.
There is also a level editor supplied with the game so you can create your own underwater levels if you want to. One useful feature accompanying the editor is a drawfile keystrip so you will know what keys to press in the editor rather than having find the manual again.
I only played the game on the first level and didn't really find it particularly thrilling or want to carry on playing it so I don't know what happens after the first level. More of the same probably, but I didn't really have the urge to keep playing and find out. I'm sure it will appeal to plenty of gamers but I'm not one of them.
Originally released by Artex Software, Botkiller2 is a sideways scrolling platform game in which you control a Special Forces Trooper and must save a skyscraper belonging to SpaceTronic Inc from malfunctioning. This is done by working your way down to the underground installations below the skyscraper to shut down it's main reactor - and save the day !
Upon loading a quick animation sequence shows you being dropped from the helicopter onto the roof of the building. The the program will then take you to the main menu from where there are a number of options available, including redefinition of keys, enter password, high score table and game help.
You start the game on the 19th floor of the building, and the aim of each level is to get to the exit. However you have to complete a number of tasks before the exit is accessible. For example, on the first level you need to get a blue key card to open a door in front of the exit.
In order to get to the exit of the level, you need to work your way round it. This is done by using lifts, teleporters and destroying droids that get in the way. The first level is very easy indeed, not very large and you should easily complete it within a couple of goes. As you progress the levels get bigger and become more difficult to complete.
There are plenty of items and objects on each level which will be needed in order to help you complete the levels. These include restart points (pink dots) very useful after you've lost a life, you get returned to last restart point passed rather than having to go back to the start of the level.
Canisters can be shot to obtain extra pick ups and coins. Collect the coins and then when you visit the shop you can use them to buy new items and weapons to help you in your mission. There are three types of canister that I have so far encountered; the standard grey ones which contain nothing, the ones with red on contain coins, and the ones with blue on contain items and bonuses. It is always useful to destroy these canisters as they can get in the way and block routes.
During levels you will encounter terminals. You can access these and gain information about the objective of that particular level.
Playing BotKiller2 is easy enough. The early levels are not that difficult and you should find you have finished quite a few after a few goes. You control your trooper from the keyboard with directional keys, there is also an "Activate" button (Shift). By pressing this button you can carry out a particular action. For example press Shift and the directional up key you can go up in the lift and shift and directional down brings it back again. You also enter the shop and the exit, plus you use teleporters by standing in front of them and pressing the Shift key.
Botkiller2 also comes with a level editor so you can create your own levels when you have completed the 19 levels of the game.
Graphically Botkiller2 is nothing spectacular, but I think it looks alright. The level components are well drawn and look the part. The sound effects consist of an in-game tune which isn't the best one I've ever heard but it's OK. There are also plenty of sound effects during the game too.
Overall BotKiller2 is not the greatest game ever, but it's not bad and is quite an entertaining game - it's certainly worth giving it a go.
You have returned to your homeland after years of fighting in the Holy land, to discover that your father, King Tibor, has been murdered by his brother, who now rules the kingdom. It is now a shadow of its former self where evil rules and the land is terrorised by all sorts of nasty characters.
So the scene is set, the good warrior must do battle with some nasty evil tyrant type person who is trying to take over everything. A familiar storyline, but the game Ironlord isn't your everyday medieval adventure game.
Ironlord was originally released back in the early 1990s by UBI Soft, and was converted to RISC OS machines by Cygnus Software.
The game is divided into a number of different sections, the first part involves a number of activities such as archery. You must also travel the kingdom in search of soldiers to help you on your quest. Once you have enough for an army you then return to your ruined castle and the battle begins.
However this is not the end of the game as after the battle (should you be successful) you then have to chase Zolphar through a Labyrinth before the final confrontation.
When the game has loaded you will see a view of the kingdom. To select a village to go to, simply move the mouse pointer to the appropriate village and click the select button. You cannot access all the places on the map to start with.
When you select a village a small window will open showing you riding on your horse, and you will see a small character on a horse move about the landscape to your chosen destination.
When you reach your destination the screen will change to a detailed image to depict where you are on the left of the screen and on the right hand side of the screen are two windows. The top one is now the game area and in there is the village that you have arrived at. This is viewed from above.
From here you guide your character around the village using the keyboard and you can enter certain buildings by pressing Return. Once in a building you can engage in conversation with whoever is in there and buy and exchange items. More often than not the person in the building will set you a task, and if you find the item they want you will be rewarded with a useful item to help you on your quest.
The other window on the screen, in the bottom right corner, gives information on where you are in the kingdom, what buildings of interest are there and who lives there who might be of help to you. As you move round the village the information will change telling you more about where you are and things to look out for.
During the game assassins will appear. They have been sent to stop you, so you need to keep a look out for them. They will appear randomly throughout the game and you must fight with them and kill them otherwise they will kill you.
Graphically, I think Iron Lord looks good. The map of kingdom and images of the locations you are at are well drawn and detailed and the graphics in the village are small but do the job well. The graphics look good and are quite typical of the games of the time this was first released.
On the audio side there doesn't seem to be any sound effects. That doesn't mean to say there aren't any, there are plenty of tunes, when you visit each village the music changes, but the main game tune is a very appropriate and authentic medieval sounding tune. It sounds good but does go on a bit!
The manual for Ironlord is rather brief, and I would imagine this is because that is how it was originally. However if you are into playing Ironlord then I would check out www.ironlord.acornarcade.com/hints.htm for help and advice for playing this game.
Overall Ironlord is a decent enough game, but I didn't play it for long, not because it's bad but because it is not really my sort of thing. It's not an arcade game at all, more of strategic adventure. There is a lot to this game, what I've said here and seen of the game is barely touching the surface. This is no five minute game. Ironlord with certainly have it's fans, and if you like strategic adventure games then this might well be worth a look.
Pysanki is a sort of futuristic follow up to Man At Arms. The game looks and feels very similar in a number of ways, the menu, the style of graphics and gameplay, but it is different enough to be a totally new game.
This was one of my first RISC OS games that I bought all those years ago, and back then I had the added bonus of having a local Acorn dealer who I could visit and buy the latest games straight off the shelves rather than have to do the usual mail order ritual. On one particular visit I purchased a copy of Pysanki. The Acorn dealer in question, in case anyone is interested, was Absolute Computers in Oxford, who also provided my A3000.
The game is set in the future on the freighter Pysanki, which is on a fossil egg collection expedition (if you can imagine such a thing). However something has gone wrong and you have been sent in to clear the decks of the freighter.
A deck is cleared when a certain number of points has been obtained. This is achieved by collecting certain eggs and also by killing the various nasties who inhabit the them. When the points total is reached the level is then complete and you can move onto the next one. There are eight levels and, as you would expect, they start off relatively easy and get more difficult as the game goes on.
As you have probably guessed there will be plenty of obstacles and hazards on each deck. Some of these are useful and you need to find them, others can harm you or are just generally irritating. Some of the objects worth looking out for are Ammo racks (extra rockets), Nutrient (extra life) and a portal which gives instant level completion! Good to see that a map feature is included - makes such a difference when you are trying to plan a route through the level.
Obstacles on the levels to help hinder your progress include sliding doors, some open easily, others do not. Containers in different colours which can be useful or useless. By trial and error you will find out with ones to avoid. Also watch out for the slime which will kill you on contact.
Playing the game is exactly the same as Man At Arms, you can use the keyboard, joystick or the mouse if you prefer, and you control your spaceman character around the maze using the directional keys. You are equipped with energy rockets, and have the ability to become invisible for short periods of time if you have enough points available, and you can also teleport around the level.
Pysanki is not a particularly difficult game to play. It starts off relatively simple but after a while you need to start thinking about what you are actually doing and how to do complete a level. It is certainly possible to do one thing wrong and then you'll have to start it all again.
Graphically speaking I think Pysanki looks good, the graphics are bright and colourful and do the job well. They don't look the 16 years old that they are, and the objects look like what they are supposed to be. Perhaps it's because the game is futuristic that the graphics don't look dated ?
Unfortunately there is currently a problem with the sound on Pysanki - there isn't any. This is a known problem, and will hopefully be sorted out in the future so keep an eye on the APDL website for any future updates. For those who have never played the game before, you can have a choice of just in game music or just sound effects. From memory the music was quite good and the sound effects were good as well with digitised effects and speech. However seeing as it didn't work on anything past RISC OS 2, so it's an achievement to have it working at all!
Overall, as with Man At Arms, it's not a bad game and if you liked that game then you will probably like this one as well. Despite the similarities I preferred this one and did manage to progress much further. Maybe I'll give it another go one day and see if I do any better. One final point what does Pysanki mean, if anything ?
Inertia is another highlight of this compilation, and was another one of the first games I bought for RISC OS as part of the Real McCoy 2 compilation. I thought back then that this was an excellent game and it still is now.
You control a small yellow spinning craft around a massive landscape, the object being that you must collect all of the pink tiles scattered about in order to finish the level.
From the title screen you can choose one of two landscapes to play. The first one is the one to start with, this level starts off easy and gets more difficult the further you progress into it. The second landscape, as you have probably guessed, is the harder level and will take a fair bit of practice and skill to complete.
Playing Inertia is easy enough, but it's best to get used to the controls first as it is all too easy to go zooming off the edge of the landscape and lose a life. To control the craft you just move it left, right, up and down and if you want to stop the craft, a quick press of the Return key will bring it to a halt, you can also control the craft with the mouse if you prefer to do so.
As you progress around the landscape you will encounter various hazards and obstacles. At first it will be nothing more than small ramps which you have to manoeuvre your craft up, but later on you will encounter hazards such as Ice - once on this you cannot change direction. There are also conveyor belts which will move the craft along in a particular direction and also the Jump tiles. If you come in contact with one of these it will make your craft jump up into the air and hopefully land back down on the landscape, these are used to access other parts of the landscape which you otherwise can't reach.
During the game, if you press the middle mouse button, you can access the status menu. From here a number of options are available including on screen help, view the landscape map (recommended) audio options, control options and quit game.
Graphically Inertia is quite blocky and basic as you can see from the screenshots but this does not spoil the game at all. I think it suits the game and it works well. Each of the different types of hazards appear as different coloured tiles so you can spot them easily enough.
Each landscape has it's own tune to accompany you through the game. I liked the easiest levels tune the best, there are also a number of in game sounds for when you collect a pink tile or when you lose a life.
Overall then, Inertia is still an excellent game, quite challenging and certainly well worth playing, I never finished either of the landscapes but came close to completing the first one. Maybe I'll give it another go sometime. Definitely recommended.
You are Brother Daleth and you have been sentenced to perish in the Halls of Testing. You have been sent there as you have been accused of committing a sin. It is therefore now up to you to prove your innocence and if you do you will be allowed to go free. In order to do this you must collect all of the yellow diamonds which can be found throughout the twelve halls.
The quest begins in the monastery where you originate from, throughout the passages are twelve doors, each door is numbered, 1 to 12, and behind each door is one of the Halls of Testing. To start with only one door can be entered but as you complete halls other doors will become unlocked.
Doors which can be entered are open, ones which you can't go through are shut (sort of logical really!). To go through a door press 'Backspace' and you will be transported to that hall. There are are twelve halls, and these are different types including underwater, outer space and monastery halls.
Controlling Brother Daleth is easy enough, move him left and right and he can jump and fire a weapon (after it has been collected). Control is from the keyboard only. Once you are into a Hall then you have to collect all the yellow diamonds. As you would expect there are things in the halls which will try to make the task a bit more difficult. There are plenty of nasties who will harm you so destroy them if you have a weapon available.
I did find jump control a bit iffy. Many times instead of jumping a gap I fell off the edge and either lost a life or had to find the way round again. This could have just been me, but might not have been.
Throughout the halls there are some blocks which are marked with a "?". These should be hit from below and then will reveal an item, some useful others not so useful. Items that can be obtained from these blocks include score increase, extra life, weapon, a jet pack and also halos which provide invulnerability for a short time.
The graphics of Daleth are quite basic and unfortunately they show the signs of being an old game as you can see from the screenshots. As for the sounds they are reasonable - the music is typical soundtracker tunes and there are plenty of in game noises.
Overall Daleth is nothing spectacular, it looks a bit dated now, but I quite liked it. It reminded me a bit of the classic platformer Son Of Gyrinus. Definitely worth playing but don't expect too much.
If your copy of Daleth does not work properly then you need the patch from the APDL website in the updates section, it is one file called "Time" replace the one in !Daleth>Resources with this new one and the game should work fine.
This will be a familiar game to anyone who used to own a BBC Micro. Originally released back in 1987 by Logotron Software. It is a maze game in which you control a shield around a maze and must collect all of the masks and solve various puzzles in order to complete the level and move on to the next one.
There are 15 different mazes to complete. The first level is relatively easy but they get progressively difficult as the later levels introduce new obstacles to make your task harder. On the first level you will only have to deal with force fields. These can only be entered from certain sides, some from the left only and others from the top only.
Later levels include Fish and Chickens. These will fall and move about the maze under certain conditions, for example the fish if unsupported will fall down until they hit something - like the boulders in Repton. There are also bombs and dolls on other levels, I don't think you encounter all of these on the same levels, but as I haven't completed much of the game I could be wrong.
Playing Xor is easy, you use the cursor keys to control the shield around the maze. There are two shields which you will take control of during the game and you switch from one to the other by pressing Return. Both these shields are needed to complete the game.
The graphics of Xor have been fully updated to take advantage of the better graphics modes which are available on RISC OS machines, and you can see the improvements with the comparisons of RISC OS version and the BBC Micro version in the screenshots below :
XOR on RISC OS
XOR on th BBC Micro
Unfortunately the sound is the games weak point, there isn't any - well I didn't hear any on my machine, bit of a shame really, as the original version had quite a good in game tune, and an update of that would have been really good.
Xor is a challenging puzzle game, it is not one you will complete quickly, it will take a lot of thought to work out the correct solution for each level, and one wrong move, and you can easily mess the whole thing up and have to start again.
It is good to see a RISC OS version of Xor to keep this classic game alive on next generation machines. It runs in a window in the desktop, it's just a shame it runs in silence, apart from that a very good update.
All of these games have been updated to work on RISC OS 4 and Select machines as many of them did not work before. So if you want to play these games again on newer hardware then now you can. As for Iyonix compatibility, none of them work natively as expected, but with Aemulor Pro running the results are quite good.
Quite a success there, 10 games in the collection and 7 of them work fine, only Man At Arms, Groundhog and Pysanki failed to work. On my machine they all ran in squashed letterbox modes but that maybe due to the fact I am using an LCD screen and may not have the correct MDF to get a full screen display, but they work and that is the main thing.
Overall This isn't the greatest collection of RISC OS games ever, and compared to the previous 4th Dimension collections, it is a bit disappointing. The stars of the collection are without doubt Spobbleoid Fantasy and Inertia, it is still worth buying this release just for these two games, as they are excellent games still worth playing today.
As for the other games in the collection it is a bit of a mixed bag. Man at Arms and Pysanki are reasonable maze games, but I found them to be quite difficult to play and didn't really hold my interest. Ironlord will certainly find fans I'm sure as it is a well produced game but just not my thing really. Botkiller2 is an OK game, as is Groundhog, XOR is a decent game, and I quite liked Daleth, but didn't really think much to Antigrav2 and would say that it is the weakest game in the collection.