WAY back in the mists of time, so far ago that even the so called good old days of home computing were but a distant memory, and so long ago that even this hallowed organ was but a twinkling in the eye of the powers that be... Er where was I?
Oh yes, it was 1985 in fact, and it was just about the last year it was worth owning a Commodore 64 because Andrew Braybrook's Graftgold released Paradroid, and followed it up the next year with the wonderful Uridium. Surprisingly, our Andy has rehashed his original game to give us Paradroid 90. What next, Uridium 91?
The reason Paradroid was a resounding success was that it was a jolly good 8-bit game. However, expectations, game design and the standard of software has advanced since then (though it might not seem like it at times). So does the old dog still have a few tricks left or is Paradroid 90 only a series of toothless woofs?
To find out you first have to digest the plot. Easy enough. Out there in space is a place called Basmyth. The neighbouring Trimorg Empire wants to annex it Iraqi style. Our forces send out a fleet of freighters to counter the threat. From out of nowhere comes a Flash Gordon Death Ray which turns the droids onboard into metallic communists.
They round up all the capitalist, land owning, fascist pig, police state, running dog lackies, otherwise known as the human crew, and put them up against a wall. You are also a droid, which makes the whole exercise one of droidicide.
To facilitate the droidicide you are armed with a feeble laser, a small energy supply, and poor armour. You only get one life, and the droids on other ships are bigger, faster and meaner than a rattlesnake in your codpiece.
Viewpoint is top down, with fairly anaemic ship graphics and droids. The screen scrolls up and down if you progress in those directions which is in fact, fewer directions than on the Commodore 64.
You can access desk consoles and call up data on the function of the deck you are on (they are linked by lifts). The number and type of droid inhabiting it, and correspondingly, hints on the best way to proceed.
Now you can run around and just blast every card carrying can you see, which is fine. You might just make it off this deck in once piece. But you won't get any further I assure you.
The crux of the game is in fact a sub-game. You have the ability to lock onto another droid and play out a transference game for possession of its metallic hide. This involves shooting pulses of energy at a central bar, and hoping that when the timer runs out you have more receptors in your colour than the opponent. The trouble is that you only get a limited number of shots, and the bigger the opposition, the more shots they have.
There are numerous fiddly bits which gives you unchangeable receptors, two shots for the price of one etc., and you can swop sides before you start, so a small dollop of strategy and tactics comes into play.
Indeed, unless you tackle some of the droids on the lower decks in a certain order, transferring as you go, then you won't be able to finish the game. It'll take you a long time to get that far though.
Paradroid 90 is tough work make no mistake. It's also incredibly irritating to lose your very first transference game and thus get blown to bits and have to go back through the title pages and credits.
Paradroid 90 is a fair game, enjoyable at times, frustrating at others, but it does show its age. Roll on Uridium 91 is what I say.