ZX Spectrum Darkside
Darkside was released for the ZX Spectrum by Incentive Software in 1988 was the follow up to their ground breaking 3D game Driller.
Once again the revolutionary 'Freescape' engine was used to generate the explorable playing area - and Incentive managed to make the engine a little slicker in this follow up to their already classic game.
The whole story to the game was based on the Ketars, who had taken 200 years to plan their revenge. This time they had constructed a giant crystal weapon (called as Zephyr One) on Evath's other moon, the excellently name Tricuspid.
Intended to harness the sun's energy and direct it at Evath, the huge crystal was linked to a series of energy collection devices (EGOs). If the EGOs were allowed to reach full power, Zephyr One would fire and your planet would be blown into tiny fragments.
The mission was to shoot and disable the EGOs. You were dropped into a safe zone on the moon's surface with the minimum of equipment: a space suit, a jet-pack, quad lazers, a shield and a modest supply of fuel.
Tricuspid has 18 sectors including the dark and light sides of the moon. In each, the 3D landscape was observed through the viewing panel of the space suit. Buildings, walls, trees and walkways all stood out from the regular surface of the moon.
You could look up or down, rotate to view objects from any angle and tilt to the right or left. This was all highly impressive stuff on the ZX Spectrum in 1988!
Tricuspid was a moon of msytique. Weird and wonderful symbols adorned the buildings, tunnels were hidden beneath ground level and a number of places could only be reached by solving a series of puzzles.
The EGO network had to be tackled strategically. A column linked to two other active EGOs regenerated immediately after you had shot it, so only ECDs with a single working connection could be disabled permanently.
Powerporters (which looked like suspended slabs) provided instant teleportation transport. Restricted areas could only be accessed via a telepod, but for security purposes essential telepod crystals were hidden in various places on the moon. You really had to don your explorers hat to solve this game! But that is what makes it stand out as a true slice of classic gaming history.
Ketar defences were forced into action as you made your approach. Detector devices teleported intruders into a prison area while plexors broke down your shields as soon as you were within range of them. Your dwindling power supplies could be replenished by walking into fuel rods or shield pentagons.
Allowing your energy to run down, falling into the grip of the plexors or failure to complete the task in time mean that Evath's fate was sealed.
To complete the game you had to find and disable the final EGO on the dark side of Tricuspid - but this was by no means easy or quick to do.
Darkside was a thoroughly absorbing, immersive and once again impressive gaming experience from Incentive. The 3D landscapes moved even smoother than last time out, and this title was a slick and higly polished piece of software.
Well Incentive were onto another winner with this arcade adventure game. The first title had been revolutionary with it's free roaming 3D environment - and this second game was bigger, slicker, smoother and better. Fans of the original snapped it up - and even the relatively high price of £9.95 on cassette did not put Spectrum gamers off.
The test of time:
Well here in the land of Spectrum games we reckon Darkside still has something to offer. Whilst by todays standards the 3D landscape is very simple, we all know that games like this were precursors to todays modern 1st person perspective games. If you can get into the game there is still some atmosphere in here and good puzzles to solve.
Go on... Take a walk on the Dark Side.
We recommend getting hold of the real Sinclair hardware but if not then download this one for a ZX Spectrum emulator. Alternatively you could try and play it online.
Please see our other ZX Spectrum retro game reviews and programmer interviews - all links are listed in alphabetical order. Cheers guys.
GENRE: 3D Arcade Game (Arcade Adventure)
RELEASE DATE: July of 1988
RELEASED BY: Incentive Software
DEVELOPER(S): Chris Andrew, Paul Gregory and Stephen Northcott
PRICE: £9.95 Cassette or £14.95 Disk - UK
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