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US GOLD £24.99 * Joystick

In the 22nd Century our alien enemies are becoming pretty sophisticated, so we are having to alter our thinking to keep up with them. That is why the Cyborg Research Facility was set up - and this time they have got something special up their sleeve.

Lieutenant Kowalski, a trooper in the elite marines, has been badly injured in a battle on Titan. Rather than just patch him up and send him back out, the boys at the research facility have decided to re-build him as a computer-assisted fighting machine.

Extensive tests need to be made on Kowalski, re-named RemOTe Offworld Xenoprobe (ROTOX), before he goes back into service: so he has been shipped off to Neptune to the new testing complex. Which, naturally, is where you come in.

Rotox is a single-player puzzle shoot-em-up and is, as they say, viewed from above. You have direct control over Rotox, who is centred in the screen, and you must battle through ten levels each made up of nine sectors. Complete a set of nine sectors and you then move onto another level and another nine sectors. On each sector there is a specific number of enemies to destroy, including flying aliens in waves and gun emplacements. Destroy them all and the screen flashes to let you know the job is done. Then you can move on to the next.

This is where things tend to get much trickier because moving between the sectors is far from easy. There are thin walkways to negotiate (if you are lucky) as well as revolving, sliding and disappearing platforms to cross.

Destroying the aliens and moving from sector to sector can be made easier if you manage to pick up extras such as missile launchers and jet-packs. These are not always enough, though, because the aliens come thick and fast at times and contact with them reduces your energy, as does falling off the platforms. You have three lives per credit and five credits so getting some way into the game should not be too much trouble. Once you start hitting the higher levels you will wish you had a lot more!


The game graphics are a mix between sprites (of the aliens and Rotox, which are OK, but could be bettter) and the filled 3D of the platforms (much better) which works very well together. Turn the sound off, though - the effects are dire and only annoy after a while, rather than enhancing the gameplay.


Getting through the early levels is easy once you have got the hang of staying on the platforms - fortunately, your energy level is not penalised too much for falling off, but the game gives no favours and puts you back at the start of the scection. The higher levels are very tough. This will keep you going for some little while.


The puzzle/shooting mix works very well, the graphics work well and the whole game hangs together excellently. More and slightly different puzzles would have made things better, but even so it is a good game that requires a good bit of hand-to-eye coordination. One you will enjoy working through.

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Ballerspiele mit Robotern sind ja nun nicht gerade das Neueste vom Neuen - dennoch ist es U.S. Gold gelungen, dem altehrwürdigen Thema einen ungewöhnlichen Anstrich zu verleihen.

Der Spielverlauf selbst birgt allerdings keinerlei Überraschungen: Man steuert einen Cyborg durch zehn verschiedene, in Unterabschnitte unterteilte Level voller Brücken und Plattformen. Geballert wird auf andere Blechkameraden und futuristische anmutende Kanonengeschütze. Das Besondere an der ganzen Angelegenheit ist die verwendete Scrolltechnik. Die Plattform scrollt immer mit, egal wohin man seinen gepanzerten Helden auch steuert - aber der Kerl bleibt dabei wie angewurzelt in der Bildmitte stehen, nur die Plattform bewegt sich! Das sieht besonders neckisch aus, wenn man die Figur dreht, dann rotiert eben nicht das Sprite, sondern die Plattformen darum herum.

Nicht nur in Bezug auf diesen, von der Arcade-Maschine "Assault" her bekannten Effekt, sondern auch sonst ist Rotox technisch gut gelungen. Hinzu kommen ein sehenswertes Intro und ein genialer Zoom vor Spielbeginn. Nur beim Spielwitz, da hapert es leider. Abgesehen von den auftauchenden Gegnern ist auf den plattformen ziemlich tote Hose. Und immer nur herumballern und gelegentlich Extras aufsammeln ist auf die Dauer halt reichlich fad, da hilft es auch wenig, daß ein (zu findender) Jetpack dem mechanischen Helden für kurze Zeit Flügel verleiht.

Irgendwie wird man bei Rotox das Gefühl nicht los, daß die Programmierer vor lauter Stoltz auf ihre tolle Rotationsroutine ganz vergessen haben, sich etwas mehr Gedanken zum gameplay zu machen... (C. Borgmeier)

Rotox logo CU Amiga Superstar

PRICE: £24.99

The delivery to CU Towers of this new shoot em up provoked quite a few guardedly jealous- and puzzled - looks from my colleagues on rival EMAP magazines. How did they get their hands on this and how much gameplay would this strange-seeming offering provide? As the disk whirred in the drive, I hoped that the answer to the latter would be stacks and stacks; as the title screen melted into an orgy of devious and delicately arranged destruction I knew. Rotox on the Amiga is something of a blinder.

All credit is due to US Gold. They have had a good track record with licences and conversions, but some of their original games by their own admission have been poor. The recent E-Motion cracked the mould in this respect, but Rotox breaks it that much more. Too many shoot em ups are patronising rehashes - but this one is just a bloody good original.

The brainchild of programming team Creative Materials, Rotox makes use of a new games system called Rotoscape, which integrates a bitmap-style rotating screen with whatever other game elements you would care to add. A set of interlocking routines generate and move a polygon constructed background, at the same time keeping track of an array of sprites moving on the surface.

In practice, this involves you pulling off such stunts as leaping on to and keeping your position on a miniscule catwalk, which rotates through 360 degrees and expands and contracts behind and in front of you as you fend off hordes of nasties. You wait for a suitable moment to leap on to the next rotating catwalk, which in turn will lead you to a whole nest of villains.

It is a bit disorientating at first, but the gameplay and the aim of the game are so simple that you will soon get used to it while cramming the swear box with ten pees when, for the third time I a row, you mistime that all-important jump and sent your cyborg careering into space.

Each of the ten levels follow the same pattern. With a realistic "thud" your cyborg lands on to the central ship of around six orbiting space craft, which you have to connect by wiping out all hostile life forms. Scanners to your right indicate the level of charge on your weapons, plus which of the ships remain "active" , while a radar to your left lets you know what is lurking ahead. Direct blows and falls weaken you while much of the strategy of the game revolves around defying the natural hazards of the constantly shifting terrain and finding a safe offensive position from which to commence firing. Your very first weapon can seem a bit of a disappointment. It is like a hand-held bazooka for a leprechaun, in fact. But along with the energy canisters and jet pack there is plenty of additional gunnery to pick up along the way - a scatter gun, a launcher for homing missiles, and the decidedly phallic-looking navel gun.

If salad days are those so-called golden years when adulthood is formed then when they were teenagers, Creative Materials must have been spiking their lettuce with hallucinogenic drugs - or so it might seem. Each of the levels has a theme, and the selection on offer is great although, to say the least, a little tripped out. There is the first, most obvious Space Craft Level containing the Star Ship Enterprise and the space shuttle. There is Lego Level, featuring Lego-style cars, buses, even Lego pedestrian crossings. On Eco Level you land on giant daisies or a poppy eating orbiting tortoise, while in my favourite, which, for want of a better term, I call Heavy Metal Symbol Level, you have to conquer territory shaped like a skull, a giant hanged man, and a giant cross with the words RIP emblazoned across it.

The soundtrack too, is bizarre. It moves from the electric machinsmo of the title track to the faintly silly, although disturbing, in-game whistling noises which, I am reliably informed, simulate the sounds of breathing and gunfire as they'd actually occur in space.

All in all, Rotox is a delight. Remarkable and inspired. A quick straw poll around the office confirms that here at CU we think that this one is a winner. It will last three times as long as they Hundred Years War.

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Some people are born without brains and Duncan MacDonald is one of them - so for a bit of fun we let him loose on Rotox from US Gold (it's rather hard, you see)

This game is rather hard, as you may have gathered from the introduction. Unfortunately, it's also rather hard to explain - so we're not going to. Tum te tum te tum. Oh, alright then. Um, well, for a start it's viewed from above and you control a sort of robot thing. What do you have to do though?

Oh dear, here goes. Well, on each level there are nine 'sectors'. Each of these sectors is made up of differently shaped polygons. Some of the polygons are static, while others are moving (spinning, throbbing or whatever). The general idea is for you to kill all the nasties (yes, it's a shoot 'em up - sort of) in one sector, whereupon the screen will flash (telling you you've done well) and bridges will appear, joining the cleared sector to its immediate neighbours.

Crossing one of these bridges, you then have to repeat the 'alien killing' process in the sector it leads you to and then into another and another and so on - until all nine sectors are cleaner than a carpet that's been Shake 'n' Vacked; then it's off to the next level.

But - and here's the rub - it's not as simple as that. (it never is, is it? Ed) You can fall off the edges of things, you see, losing energy and any weapon upgrades you happen to have picked up along the way (er, there are weapons upgrades to be picked up, we forgot to tell you about that).

Have a look at the big screenie above. See that bridge type thing? Well, it's traveling quite quickly and you have to get your robot onto it and to the other end without falling off. And to add insult to injury there are also the myriad nasties to worry about.

There's something extra special about the graphics by the way, something you won't be able to tell from the screen shots - and it's this: your robot always faces up screen - even if you spin him to the right. It's the background that moves, rotating smoothly through 360 degrees. Mind you, polygons are pretty good at doing things like that... aren't they?

Amiga reviewDunc: Oh no. Lost again. Er, let me explain - I've got a useless sense of direction.... if I'm ever unfortunate enough to be reincarnated as a homing pigeon I doubt very much if I'll ever be bought by anyone, or put out to stud (if they do that with birds).

And the trouble with Rotox is that there isn't a compass and it's easy to get lost. "Surely there's a map you can call up" you may cry. Well, sort of. You have to jump off the edge, whereupon you get plonked back down from above (thereby gaining a bird's eye view for a few seconds) - losing energy and any extra weapons you've picked up.

At first I thought that this lack of an overhead view detracted from the game, but as I got more and more deeply hooked I had to admit that this wasn't the case - it just adds to the exasperation (and thus to the addictiveness).

The bitmapped nasties are nice and varied, and if the attack waves are orchestrated I have to admit that it doesn't feel like it. On the polygon side of things, it has to be said that moving around can be a real nightmare (but that's what makes the game). Bridges that revolve may sound bad enough, but how about squares that throb - shrinking (quickly) from big to very small then back to big again - and loads of them next to one another, all throbbing in a different order. The graphics in general, it has to be said, aren't exactly awe inspiring. Pretty bog standard really, come to think of it. But somehow this just doesn't matter at all - seeing as game play is simply oozing out all over the place. Yes, Rotox is one of those rare games that'll have you pulling your hair out by the roots (unless you're Duncan Goodhew).Stop

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Electric Dreams, Amiga £24.99

Before Rotox was Rotox, he was a trooper in the elite marine corps, daily proving his bravery and lethal skill in countless interplanetary battles. But even the best can make mistakes, and combat injuries rarely leave much bury. But 22nd Century medical advances keep our hero alive just enough for him to provide the brainpower for an awesome combat droid.

Rotox is a cyborg war machine, completely mechanical apart from a human brain hardwired into it. This RoboCopish concept could ensure many victories, but first it must be tested... Ten war zones have been built in space, each consisting of nine sub-sections all packed with hostile forces. Beat them all and you'll be hailed as the future of warfare. Lose and your builders won't bother repairing you - they'll sell you as scrap iron!

Rotox boasts a 'revolutionary new game technique called Rotoscope', which means an overhead view of the cyborg which is fixed at the centre of the screen. Push right on the joystick and the whole screen rotates around your man, complete with however many baddies are homing in on you. Rotoscope isn't merely a gimmick though, as it allows a new game-style. Each of the sub-sections are linked by bridges which can be quite a trial, with various segments rotating, expanding/contracting and, in short, doing everything they can to disorientate you! If you fall off you plunge through space right back to the centre of the sub-section you were on. On later levels this costs energy, and destroys any add-on weapons you might have.

Each sub-section has plenty of monsters to kill, from swirling snakes to static launchers pumping out homing missiles as bees. You must kill them all to complete a sub-section, and ultimately the level. Each level has its own theme - the first has each of the sections shaped like a spaceship, from the shuttle to the USS Enterprise. Later themes include death, puzzles and even gardening! While battling through the game you can find add-on weapons such as scatter-bombs, a grenade launcher, a jetpack (with limited fuel) and heat-seeking missiles.

Phil King I feel sick! All those spinning and pulsating shapes are enough to give anyone motion sickness. But if you can keep your breakfast down this really is a great game. Most 'innovative' 16-bit games are tremendously complex so it's a relief that Rotox is so easy to pick up and play. The rotating overhead view works well, heightening the vertigo-inducing tension of walking along thin bridges and rotating platforms. Some of the sector layouts are very imaginative, such as the huge flowers and fruit on level three. Sound is also of a high quality with a cacophony of atmospheric background effects. The game is tough, requiring both good tactics and fast reactions, but at least you get plenty of continue-plays to avoid frustration. Great fun!
Scorelord To quote Phil, 'Nyah! Nyah! Yes! NO! Arghhh! Mmmh! Which, translated, means this is a challenging, addictive and very mean game which really has you sweating as the aliens come swooping in and the floor starts shifting under your feet. At first glance it doesn't look that impressive, especially in static screenshots, but once you begin to play the shoot-'em-up action soon becomes compulsive. Later levels then start fooling around with the ground in various mind-boggling ways which make progress both addictive and frightening. The continue-plays usefully delay the irksome return to level one, and although there isn't an incredible amount of depth, this is a first-rate shoot-'em-up which could well drive you up the wall (with Phil).