It came from John Hurt's stomach

The Colony logo

IT'S a funny thing, but you can usually tell a program's country of origin after playing with it for about 20 seconds. Take French games, for example; nine times out of ten they have seriously weird graphics, Jean Michel Jarre-type music and a severe lack of gameplay.
German games have animated copper lists and more scrolling messages than Jolyon Ralph, whereas British games - if they're not just a coin-op conversion - concentrate primarily on functional graphics and horrid Top-of-the-Pops music. Then there are American games...

Americans have a great attitude to copy protection. They don't like it much. One of the reasons is that quite a few Stateside Amiga owners have hard drives, and will want to install the game to speed things up and get rid of all that tedious disc swapping. They demand that games are easy to use and techie friendly.

Like Colony for instance, which comes on two floppies, needs one megabyte of ram and will work in harmony with an A500. It also goes OTT in the way that interface mode and colours can be decided before play. More like running an art package than a game.
However, a game it claims to be.

And it comes with a plot that is mind staggering in its originality. It hasn't any. A colony far, far away on the very frontier of space has been overrun. All communications have ceased.
Guess what? Yup, you're the only Space Marshal nearby and you'll have to go and rescue everyone. If that doesn't sound like Aliens then I'm a mutating slime monster.

The author states he first had the idea for the game in 1983, and it ooks as though this is when it was written. Graphics are solid, 3D and dull. Detail is limited, meaning they move quite quickly, but the refresh rate can be increased still further by switching to vector graphics only. Very Battlezone.

Whenever you approach an objects such as a control panel or computer screen, the display changes to a 2D monochrome display. Yuck!
The graphics seem to have been ported from a mono Mac and are grim. Objects can be moved around, desk drawers opened and vital clues uncovered. Aha - right at the back of this drawer I do believe we have the Reactor start-up code.

Death comes quickly in Colony. Make one mistake, press the wrong button, and you're dead. Instantly. No questions asked, no reasons given. Just a quick scream, a flash of colours and the Game Over requester appears.
Some sort of reason for you demise is needed because constant, unexplained destruction tends to get on your wick after a while. To be honest, it gets on your wick from the very start.

Sound effects are limited. The title music consists of a two second passage sampled from Holst's Planet Suite. Mars, I believe. Obviously no expense spent in the sonics department. There are occasional little jokes, such as the sound produced when you bump into the toilet, but nothing to lift up to average.

Colony looks severely out of date. Back in the 8 bit days it might have been acceptable, state-of-the-art even. Today, it's history. Its only hope for salvation is that ardent space cliche fans will flock in their thousands to re-live the adventure. Again.
If you persevere, there is an adventure to be played, and a tough one at that. Finding it is the hardest part of all.

The Colony logo

MINDSCAPE £29.99 * Mouse

The Regional Space Marshal was flying his DAS Cruiser through Delta Space when a message came through on the subspace radio. "This is Commander Bagdasarian of space frontier colony Delta 5-5. We have been overrun. I repeat, we have been overru...". The message was lost in a wash of static interference.

Thus begins your adventure as lone Space Marshal in an attempt to rescue the colonists on Delta 5-5 and stop the spread of the alien threat. Now where have we heard that before...?

The Colony takes place in a 3D environment, combining solid polygon graphics for the internal views and wire-frame representations of the outside world. The game stats with you in the main control room as the DAS Cruiser, having just awoken from a crash landing. All non-essential power systems have shut down, leaving the ship in darkness. After restoring power to the lightning systems you being the quest to liberate the planet and make your escape.

The ship's drive systems have been damaged, so as well as destroying the alien forces yo must recover special equipment from the base to repair the cruiser. You must use any systems you can find to gain access to further sections of the game, finding the codes to use on the right equipment and kitting yourself out with enough weapons to survive the alien threat.


Influences as varied as Star Trek and Battlezone can be seen throughout the game, the latter particularly in evidence in the surface sections. The graphics are so similar to the arcade tank classic that it could almost be the same game! However, despite the use of filled 3D graphics, the game has a very sparse appearance. The update is extremely slow, making turning a simple corner a slow and sometimes disorientating procedure. The sound is extremely disappointing, consisting of a few beeps and crunches instead of the state-of--the-art effects we all know the Amiga can supply.


As with most games of this type the plot is long and involved, but instead of using different elements in key locations it becomes a case of finding something in a drawer and trying it where nothing else works. All the puzzles are overly simple, relying more on luck than judgement as to whether they can be carried out. The only real problem is the excruciatingly difficult battle scenes. There is no time to find your feet with this game - it's straight in at the deep end. Death occurs time after time after only a minute on the planet's surface, a point that will discourage even the most ardent arcade adventure fans. A player can only take so much before disks start to be hurled across the room.


As we've said before, Aliens-inspired 3D adventures are popping up everywhere these days so to be successful a game either has to have involving gameplay or incredible atmosphere. Unfortunately, The Colony is lacking in both these elements. The graphics are sketchy and unrealistic and the gameplay is repetitive and frustrating.

If you are lucky enough to get into the complex you may find yourself playing for a couple of days. On the other hand, if you repeatedly fall foul of the surface guards after scores of attempts, the game just might lose its appeal.

The Colony logo

Wer schon als kleiner Junge immer davon träumte, als Marshall für Recht und Ordnung zu sorgen, hat jetzt eine erstklassige Gelegenheit dazu. Und das auch noch in einer Science-Fiction Welt mit 3D-Vektorgrafik!

Der Computer im Marshall Office schlägt Alarm: "Mayday, Mayday, Notruf von Grenzkolonie Delta 5-5! Wir sind überfallen worden! Ich wiederhole, wir sind überfal...". Die Verbindung bricht ab. Verdammt, da ist doch dein Bezirk! Ein Siedlerstützpunkt mit Familien und Kindern.

Du rennst zu deinem galaktischen Roß, einem DAS-Raumkreuzer und startest durch. Kurz vor der Landung taucht plötzlich ein Magnetfeld auf, das den Kreuzer zur Notlandung zwingt. Der Reaktorkern wird automatisch runter gefahren, nur Notenergie steht noch zur Verfügung - der Einsatz beginnt!

The Colony ist ein Science-Fiction Adventure mit leichtem Western-Touch. Dabei wird zum ersten Mal der "FLY-BY Environment Simulator" benützt, um die Umgebung plastisch darzustellen. In der Vollauflösung mit ausgefüllten Flächen ist das Ganze sehr hübsch anzuschauen, wenngleich etwas langsam im Bildschirmaufbau (aber nahezu rukkelfrei). Wem das zu lange dauert, der kann (per Menü-leiste) auf eine schnellere, dafür aber unausgefüllte Darstellung umschalten.

Selbst die HiRes-Auflösung wird unterstützt und das volle PAL-Format ausgenutzt. Der Hauptscreen zeigt den Sichtbereich, links davon ist eine kleine Draufsicht dargestellt, darunter wiederum befindet sich ein Kompaß der die stärkste magnetische Quelle anzeigt, im Normalfall also Norden.

Hat man den "F21 Space Suit" umgeschnallt, bekommt man zusätzlich eine logarithmische Anzeige der Waffen-, Schild- und Lebens-Energie. Grafisch wird schon einiges geboten!

Die Maussteuerung hat mich dagegen beinahe zur Verzweiflung getrieben. Die Mitte des Bildschirms (durch ein Kreuz dargestellt) ist die Ruhezone. Jede Bewegung des Mauszeigers davon weg hat eine entsprechende Richtungsänderung und Bewegung zur Folge. Je weiter man die Maus von der Mitte wegrückt, desto schneller geht es. Mein armer Marshall hat sich deswegen zahllose blaue Flecken eingehandelt...

Es gibt zwar auch eine Tastatursteuerung, allerdings werden dabei die Cursor-Tasten nicht unterstützt.

Besondere Erwähnung verdient der Sound: Die ganze Disk 2 ist dafür reserviert worden, das läßt erahnen, was hier auf die Ohren des Spielers zukommt! Sei es die Spülung der Toilette oder das Laserfeuer, alles wird intoniert.

Ein "kleiner Wermutstropfen" bei The Colony ist die relativ geringe Handlungsfreiheit des Spielers. Die Aktions-Möglichkeiten des Marshalls sind auf wenige, grafisch vorbereitete Szenen beschränkt. Spiel und Anleitung sind komplett in (leichtverständlichem) Englisch. Netterweise wurde auf einen Kopierschutz verzichtet, dafür gibt's eine Code-Tabelle, die der Packung beiliegt. Ansonsten: Endlich wieder ein 3D-Vektor-Game, das sich sehen lassen kann! (wh)

The Colony logo

Mindscape, Amiga £29.99

Patrolling around in your DAS Armoured Cruiser, your attempts to catch forty winks are interrupted by the radio crackling to life. You answer it, 'cause that's the kind o' Space Marshal you are, and receive an earful of static interspersed with an order from HQ to check out the Settler Plot on Delta 5-5. The last message from this settlement - received some hours ago - was broadcast by their commander who, before being cut off, ranted on about being overrun. The ensuing silence from the Plot calls for investigation, and as you're in the vicinity...

Landing and taking off in a DAS Armoured Cruiser is usually a doddle, basically the onboard computers do all the work. Unfortunately, on the approach of Delta 5-5 your craft enters something akin to a black hole phenomenon. As your vehicle gets a malfunction and you prepare to die, the black hole vanishes, leaving you about two seconds in which to regain control of your cruiser before it touches (wrong word) down on Delta 5-5: it's not enough time!

Slowly regaining consciousness, you bless the guy who insisted on incorporating emergency landing retros in the design of the DAS Cruiser. You landed relatively safely, although the ship's reactor has powered down and now has only enough juice to maintain life support. If you ever want to get off this planet the reactor will need recharging - as if checking out the Settlement Plot wasn't enough to cope with.

Your first impression of The Colony is one of darkness. The cockpit where you begin is a mass of dull grey relieved only by black shapes. Walking into one of these shapes reveals it to be a command console and pressing the left-hand button helps put some light on your situation - pressing the right-hand button results in your lights being put out... permanently.

Exploring your cruiser, you come across computer terminals, desks, books and notices, all of which provide more information about you, your surroundings and your mission. The most important find on the ship is an F-21 Armoured Spacesuit dispenser and installer. This is the vital piece of equipment which allows you to step outside.

Choosing the power of its armour and weapons (light, medium or heavy) is critical, as the heavier your choice the more power is required to run the suit. If you don't have sufficient power in the suit (displayed top left of its Head-Up-Display) it takes its energy from the wearer, a good way to end the game quickly. Once suited up it's time to go walkies.

The planet is graphically very disappointing, being made up of a grey surface, on which are dotted small pyramids, a very distant blue mountain range and an equally blue sky. Oh yeah, and lots of alien ships to help you die more easily. On my first few surface ventures I headed for the sun (also blue) and just kept going, hoping to avoid the aliens who seemed to have nothing better to do than blast me to bits. Eventually I discovered a space ship, now if only I can make it to the door alive... I did, after six or seven attempts, only to discover it was MY ship. I'd gone full circle, silly me.

More exploring soon revealed the Settlement Plot where the game really opens up. The complex is infested with alien beings (mostly inverted pyramids with eyeballs for heads), that require destroying. Shoot them a few times and they turn into pods which, when walked over, provide more power, armour and weapons for your suit. However, get too close to the invaders and they sap your energy at an alarming rate.

The Settlement Plot has five main levels made up of schools, labs, canteens, recreation areas, cryogenic containers, lifts, transporters and so on. Each new location provides more information on the Settlement, its alien squatters and what's expected of you to put things right.

The Colony is a 3-D walkabout adventure (in a similar vein to Incentive's Freescape games) where, using a mouse/keys combination, you explore and react with firstly your own ship, then the planet's surface and ultimately the Settlement complex.

Viewed in first-person perspective, locations are displayed in a basic line-drawing style which may be filled in or not, depending on how fast you want screens to update. Sound FX, although good, are stored on Disk 2 and every time an event or action demands an audible accompaniment (quite often) you're required to swap disks. However, The Colony is perfectly playable without sound and you have an option to leave it out, thus rendering disk swapping negligible.

The Colony is difficult to play initially, direction control is awkward, screen update is jerky and can slow to a crawl when a lot is happening in the game. However, perseverance and regular position saving are the secret to advancement and, once in the Settlement, there's so much to explore, examine, use (even an Aliens-style forklift) and destroy that game idiosyncrasies become secondary to thwarting the aliens.