The cutting edge of game playing.

Rotor logo Amiga Computing Excellence Award

THE recent glut of Thrust type games on the Amiga has cheered me up no end. If there is one type of game I particularly enjoy, it is the "rotate left, go right and pick things up" variety. First I had Raider, then Dr Plummet's House of Flux, and the latest offering is named after a type of knife (rotor-blade, geddit?).

All these games feature a ship somewhere towards the middle of the screen, which spins and crashes und the laws of gravity into a landscape unless told otherwise.

In Raider the ship might have been criticised for being too small, in Rotor it might be said to be a bit on the large size. The movement as it rotates is so smooth that it seems forever to point in the opposite direction. Lovely stuff.

Graphically, the game is gorgeous. Rotor reputedly makes use of 32 colours in its scrolling backgrounds, and although these days my eyesight is not gooe enough to enable me to sit down and count them all, the overall effect is stunning. Crystal clear and superbly realistic. I think it is fair to say that I like the graphics.

You might be disappointed initially, because when you first start playing, the graphics are various shades of green and the landscape is nothing more than a grid of squares. Ah, but this is only a simulation, à la Cosmic Pirate. The real treat is in store when you amass enough points to make it to one of the many missions displayed for you on your pocket computer. And when you do... yemmy, dig those graphics. Smooth scrolling. Wonderful stuff. Love it.

And the music! Freaky weirdo vibes, a sort of cross between Tangerine Dream and Vangelis. I could listen to it all day. It makes a welcome change to the bland electropop oozing from the 90 per cent of other Amiga games. Everyone in the office made some sort of comment about it. I look forward to the soundtrack album coming out on compact disc. I think we can assume I liked the sounds, too.

Gameplay? Well, you can take it as read that I liked that. Perhaps a tad confusing on the picking up and transforming side of things, and maybe trying to find the final escape coordinates might have been implemented, but otherwise perfect. Or very close, anyway.

On the left of the display a control panel can be toggled on and off to give a miniature radar map with lots of numbers, coordinates and other technical looking information. Being able to switch it on and off is a wonderful way to give the player a sense of being in control and actually piloting a space ship.

You can improve your ship by shooting the containers scattered around the planets you are exploring and then collecting the energy pearls contained within.

Power can be transformed into various extra bolts-on goodies to aid rotation speed, improve your armour strength and provide all sorts of extra weapons.

Unfortunately, I have to qualify the almost perfect gameplay score with the old reviewing chestnut - "all right if you like this sort of thing" - becaue it appears that for some reason not everyone appreciates this type of game.

You need patience to explore all the landscapes, steady hands to control the ship and lots of free time to sit down and play.

Rotor logo

ARCANA £19.95 * Keyboard or Joystick

Arcana have been very quiet for the last year trying (and so far, failing) to get Mars Cops out. While we wait, here is one to fill the gap.

Set in the future, when most young adults have the choice of either working in slave-like conditions in Antarctic mines or joining the Roto-raiders attack force, this one-player game has its roots in classics like Thrust and Oids.

As a member of the Rotoraiders (well, a game about mining in the Antarctic would not excite too many people) you have to infiltrate four enemy fortresses, destroy any hostile installations and collect any useful gadgets thoughtlessly left lying around by the enemy.

Your ship, viewed side-on, is armed with a front-firing gun, a tractor beam for picking up cargo and a limited shield to protect you from enemy fire.

Once you have proved proficient, first at handling your ship and then at firing using the tractor beam, in the two simulators, you are given a three-letter code which allows you access to the first three mission.

Missions involve flying around the enclosed enemy fortress, taking out the enemy and collecting containers. Inside the containers you will find ammunition and fuel which your bosses want you to beam back to them using your on-board transporter. Other things to collect include energy crystals which can be converted into useful power-ups like extra hull armour and better weapons.

As well as power-ups, collecting things (and destroying enemy installations) earns you Prestige Units and enough Pus have to be earned during your missions to allow you to progress to the next level - right up to Level Six (where things are really tough!).


There is not too much in the sound effects department, but the ones that are there are fine. The graphics are much better, being colourful and well animated. The graphics are not the most important thing in a game like this but obvious care and attention has been paid to them which is nice to see.


Getting to grips with the controls will take you a while, but once you do you will find the game will keep you playing for months.


The idea may have already been done, but there are enough features in Rotor to keep it exciting. Fans of precice control games will love it, and you will be surprised how addictive the thing can beome thanks to the good difficulty tuning. It is not varied enough to receive a Format Gold award, but then agin we are renowned for our hard marking.

Die müden Space-Piraten

Rotor logo

Glaubt man den Hintergrund-Dichtern von Arcana, sieht unsere Zunkunft düster aus. Sie prophezeien rapide ansteigende Arbeitslosigkeit bei gleichzeitig sinkendem Lebensstandard!

Jobmäßig gesehen, bestehen dann nur noch zwei Alternativen: Man kann entweder wie Sklave in den antarktischen Mineralminen malochen, oder sich bei den "Rotor Raiders" verdingen. Diese Company fliegt mit riesigen Raumschiffen in feindliche Gebiete, zerstört das dortige Verteidigungssystem und klaut anschließend alles, was nach Energiekapseln, Munition, Bezin oder Sonnenkristalle aussieht.

Vor allem die Glitzersteinchen werden von den Weltraumpiraten (für die Heimreise) dringend benötigt. Immerhin sechs solcher Raubzüge wollen erfolgreich absolviert werden, ehe man sich zur "Rotor Elite" zählen darf.

Klingt gut, nicht? Leider efüllt das Spiel die geweckten Erwartungen in keiner Weise: Man steuert ein rundes Raumschiff durch ein Labyrinth, das in der Draufsicht dargestellt ist, blickt zunehmend gelangweilt auf seinen Radarschirm und ärgert sich die meiste Zeit nur über die miese Joysticksteuerung.

Daß man nach dem Einsammeln der Sonnenkristalle die Koordinaten für den Ausgang zum nächsten Spielabschnitt erhält, kann das Interesse auch nicht allzulange fesseln.

Grafisch weist das Raumschiff eine bemerkenswerte Ähnlichkeit mit dem aus "Cosmic Pirates" auf, einigermaßen positiv ist mir lediglich der Sound in Erinnerung geblieben. Empfehlenswert also nur für Leute, die beim besten Willen nicht mehr wissen, wohin mit ihrem vielen Geld... (C. Borgmeier)

Rotor logo

Price: £19.99

In the future, the welfare state is a thing of the past, with unemployment running low and luxury lifestyles thin on the ground. Two social classes exist: the workers and the Roto-Raiders.

The job of the Rotor-Raiders is to maintain an infiltration force behind enemy lines and make use of enemy resources. All of which is a pretty long-winded excuse for playing Thrust.

As a trainee you must prove your ability in the manoeuvre and combat simulators. Once you have done this you will be given a password to allow you to enter the battle section. Each battle class consists of three levels of varying size and you must earn enough prestige units before being allowed into the next battle class.

You earn units by shooting enemy emplacements and containers. Some containers yield pearls which can be used to buy add-ons for your ship. If, like me, you are one of those people who loved Thrust on the 64 then Rotor undoubtedly has some appeal - though it is hardly the first clone to appear for the Amiga.

An excellent control system (entirely on the joystick) allows the player to get straight into the game.

More of the games features are revealed as you progress preventing the game from becoming boring. Tie the computer down because the game has a high frustration factor, when you have built up a high score one crash can lose the lot.

The graphics are fairly simple but ideal for their purposes. Each battle class has different backdrops (except for enemies) which helps to keep things interesting.

All the shoot-'em-up sounds you might expect are present in more than ample supply. Rotor also includes a veritable symphony of nice music.

Rotor is well presented, and has a high level of addictiveness. It does not offer much that is new, but I have a weakness for this kind of game. You should get a copy if you share my feelings.

Rotor logo

Floating around a weightless labyrinth in what looks like a cros between a frisbee and an armoured dustbin lid couldn't possibly make for a good game scenario? Could it? Arcana thought it could - and both Ivan Hawksly and Duncan MacDonald found themselves agreeing...

Rotor is set in a future world, where the Welfare State has been totally abolished (ah, so it's set in 1991 then. Ed.) and people have a choice of a miserable slave existence down the mines or a chance of fame and glory serving as a pilot in the elite Rotor flying tank units which do battle in the fortresses of the State's sworn enemies.

Having decided to join the Rotor Raiders you'll find yourself enrolled in the training academy where you'll be told which training missions you can fly, how many points you get for each successful mission and when you're good enough to undertake a 'real' mission.

The purpose of the Rotor Raiders is simple: to negotiate the tight spaces and treacherous corners of an enemy fortress without crashing, to collect valuable units of fuel, pearl and sun energy crystals, which give you extra power and bonus points and, of course, to blast the living daylights out of any opposition you meet along the way.

The first training missions are easy peasy stuff; you must simply guide your Rotor ship through a fortress without collision, shoot and pick up the contents of any containers (some of which contain rather handy power-up icons) and then make for a location (given in number co-ordinates) to escape from the fortress.

The training missions allow you to get to grips with handling the ship and practice shooting and plundering containers. The way you control the ship is reminiscent of Thrust; the Rotor has a single retro rocket which is fired with a forward push on the joystick. The ship can then be rotated. A quick burst on the retro will send the ship moving in whichever direction the Rotor is now pointed.

Test yourself in six training missions (which aren't very dangerous). Get through these, amass 5000 points, and you've made it as a fully fledged Rotor Raider! This is where the action really starts, as you go on real missions and kick serious ass in enemy fortresses situated in four corners of the globe. (Yes, in this game, even Globes have corners!).

It goes without saying that the further you get, the tighter the corners and the meaner the baddies; wiggly snake beams, killer mines and the old favourite: the 'instant death' laser beam. Survive, complete the dreaded 'class six' missions, and the Government will award you the 'Rotor Elite' golden dustbin lid (er sorry, Medal) and a lifelong pension. Wow!

Amiga reviewIvan: The one word that readily springs to mind when playing Rotor is bloody tricky (okay, so that was two words). Unless you've played Asteroids lately (and I haven't), you'll find it hard work just getting through the training academy and will probably waste loads of Rotors in the process.

Anyway, 2000 dustbin lids and 56 mugs of tea later, I finally made it out of the academy and into the real war and the more colourful mission screens. At this point, I'm beginning to wish I'd gone down the mines instead; I'm getting sweaty, claustrophobic, and the action demands total concentration all the way or else BANG! Blimey! That'll teach me in future to try to play and write a review at the same time!

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, total concentration; a delicate nudged and precise timing in this game can mean the difference between survival and instant oblivion. Watch out for the killer mines. Once opened, their 30 second countdown gives you the chance to pick them up and defuse them for big points, or, if you're a chicken like me, scarper like mad before the blow and ruin your whole day.

Rotor is graphically great and as an added bonus, when you get tired of being blown up, you can sit back and listen to the truly cosmic theme music that accompanies the title and demo screens.

If there are any minor quibbles I could mention, it's that the scrolling sometimes has a job keeping up with the action (it's nice to see what you're floating towards before you smash into it), but apart from that, no real probs to speak of.

Atari ST reviewDunc: Isaac Newton eh? What a git. If he hadn't gone and invented those stupid 'Laws of Motion' the world would be a far safer place - and what's more, you wouldn't constantly find yourself getting killed while playing Rotor.

Actually, that was a little bit of a lie. A fib on my part, I'm afraid. A bit of journalistic hyperbole designed to 'spark up' the introductory paragraph and give me the chance to slag off Newton. Truth be told I quite like the laws of motion and I'm a bit of a sucker for games that use them as an inherent part of the gameplay.
Asteroids for instance. And Thrust. Oh, and Oids of course. And now Rotor. Yes - this is another 'spinning spaceship with a uni-directional thruster' job. And very nice it is too.

Basically, Rotor is Thrust with much nicer graphics and the addition of power-up icons (but without the suspended weights which made negotiation of the mazes almost impossible on Thrust's later levels). There all of you who are familiar with Thrust can now skip to the final paragraph. Oh dear, there are some of you left, aren't there - groan. Righto, let's get started then (honestly, this job would be so much easier if you...) (Stop whingeing. Ed).

The scenario is basically a series of subterranean caverns and tunnels. Wdged into the various nooks and crannies are gun emplacements, canisters and gravity disruptors (and a few other bits and pieces). The general idea (over the 24 levels) is to destroy the guns and disruptors and collect the canisters before finding your way to a pre-determined point in order to be beamed out. Fair enough, but it's the control of the ship that'll either make you love or hate the game: left and right on the joystick spin your ship (anti-clockwise and clockwise respectively), while pushing forward engages thrust, which moves you in the direction the ship is facing. If you want to brake, you have to do a 180 degree turn and engage thrust again (pulling back on the stick does no good - anyway, this position is reserved for the tractor beam).

It's all very much an 'every reaction requires an equal and opposite reaction' kind of game, which makes for rather slow paced action, as you're jiggling about on the joystick with a myriad little taps and squeezes.

It's not as if you're in the open reaches of the cosmos, motors blazing at full power, with nothing to bump into - you're stuck in a rather claustrophobic tunnel system. And to make matters worse, it's not quite zero gravity: take your hand off the joystick and you start to sink, albeit slowly, to the ground - and the slightest contact with absolutely anything at all loses you one of your initial three lives.

If you're ham fisted with no sense of timing you're unlikely to get very far in Rotor, as control of the ship has to be very precise: and bear in mind this is very much the kind of game where you only get out what you put in (the earlier levels are rather mundane, so if you can't get through them it's likely that boredom, rather than addicted frustration, will set in).

According to the blurb sheet, "Rotor is a logical step forward from classics like Thrust". I don't agree - it's more of a sideways step: Rotor is a sort of cross between Thrust and, erm, Thrust. The graphics, as I said, are great - as is the animation. Also there's the inclusion of the power ups and a few extra nasties.

But, for me, the actual 'feel' of the game is very much the same as that of its inspirator. I'd have thought the "logical step forward from Thrust" that Arcana spoke of would have been to cross it with R-Type or something. Mind you, I mustn't moan, because Rotor, for all its lack of originality, is immensely playable - and fans of the genre (of which I'm one) will find it extremely addictive.Stop