Trantor: The last stormtrooper was released for the ZX Spectrum (both the 48K and 128K versions) in November of 1987 by GO! Software.
The developers behind the game were Probe software who were knowm for arcade games such as Harvey Headbanger and Slap Fight, as well as the conversion of the classic Out Run. This arcade game had been the subject of some hype prior to its release, some of it justified, some of it not.
The whole story of Trantor was the usual sad tale of deep space abandonement and betrayal. Wiping a tear as I type...
Our hero was left marooned on an alien world, and the only way to escape was by activating the main 'planetary computer' located within the terminal building. Sounds simple no?
Well, as usual there were a lot of enemies and obstacles to overcome on your way to this terminal building. Our hero was a large and well animated sprite, who could run, jump and duck (sounds like Dodgeball!) his way through the game screens, which scrolled along smoothly as you moved.
On first loading you would be amazed by the loading screen, which really pushed the display capabilities of the Spectrum and was very, very impressive.
You would be amazed yet further once you started the game and got an eyefull of the intro screen. A large and nicely detailed space ship slowly decended through a rocky cavern, dropping deeper and deeper before gently coming to rest (nice landing struts) on some sort of landing platform.
A little figure emerged and was thrown to the ground as the ship exploded into a trillion pieces - our Trantor had been left all alone.
So - it was up to you to fight your way through the caverns, the terminal building and locate the central computer.
Trantor was armed with a powerful flame thrower which would make short work of most enemies. The flame effect if produced was pretty cool at the time. Items were also littered around the levels (such as shields), many of which would come in handy at some point during the game.
To make good your escape, you had to collect (8 I think) letters and feed them into a terminal. Once all of the letters were collected they had to be re-shuffled into a technical sounding word which would activate the beaming device to get you offa that rock.
To make matters more tricky, you were constantly running against the clock, and had to complete each sub-section before the time limit expired. If the time ran out, poor old Trantor would die (strangely exploding into tiny fragments) and the game was over.
It did take quite afew goes to learn the layout of the levels and what traps were lurking around the corner. Trantor was a pretty difficult arcade game.
This game had been subject of some hype during the run up to it's release - mainly due to the impressive graphics. The presentation of the game was noted as being top notch, and the in game graphics were of a high quality - much like the loading and intro screens. At this point in time, many developers were really pushing the hardware of the ZX Spectrum in an effort to keep up with 16-bit machines such as the Commodore Amiga, but sadly none could ever quite pull it off. In this case, the graphics were large and detailled, but the famous 'attribute clash' hampered the game visually (only a little).
Most gamers regarded Trantor as a pretty good arcade game, but once you had got over the 'wow' effect of the graphics and presentation, then the limited gameplay became apparent. Aside from running, jumping and shooting, the game offered little else and the game suffered from the 'Shadow of the Beast effect' ;-). £8.99 was probably a couple of pounds more than it should have been too.
The test of time:
Here in the land of Spectrum games we reckon Trantor is a curious one, it is one of those arcade games that 'coulda been' - if only Probe had managed to put more into the game itself. Your humble reviewer here reckons if they had then Trantor would have been a true classic game. Still, it's worth a re-visit for the graphics and sound. Not the worst game by any stretch, but a long way from being one of the best.
My best friends dads pal's surname was Tranter. He always wondered why I called him 'The last stormtrooper'. Remember I was quite young!
We recommend getting hold of the real hardware but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Trantor: The last stormtrooper for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.
GENRE: Arcade game
RELEASE DATE: November of 1987
RELEASED BY: Go!
DEVELOPER(S): Probe Software (Nick Bruty, David Quinn and David Whittaker)
PRICE: £8.99 - UK
Trantor runs around like a loony for a bit before meeting his doom in another classic arcade game:
Classic Games and Arcade Games