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Quake Minus One is yet another casualty of the industry's fondness for overly hyping product. I probably wouldn't have thought so badly if my expectations weren't so high. It just isn't the megagame it's cracked up to be. Quake does have it's bright points, mostly in the sound and graphics departments, but the gameplay is very confusing indeed. Printing some intelligible information on the pieces of paper marked 'instructions' would have helped a lot. After many a frustrating game, things start to get a little clearer but a great deal of effort is needed to reach even this level. The most impressive aspect is the clever graphic system used to create the realistic perspective. The joystick handling is ingenious also, and manages to get a large amount of functions from eight directions and a fire button. Quake Minus One is just too confusing for me to form any real opinion, although after some play I came away with a general feeling of dislike. Some people may like it and I'm sure quite a few more will buy it.
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We first saw a copy of
Quake Minus One way back in issue 3, and duly let you readers know of its existence by means of the news page. Since then we have had numerous unfinished copies which were previewed (one of which a certain magazine REVIEWED) and now it has finally arrived in its entirety, months behind schedule. The game itself is highly confusing and is the sort which takes, literally, weeks of practice before any sort of proficiency is gained. The instructions are very poor indeed and explain only the functions of the various icons and installations, nothing at all about the game objective. This confusion is further heightened when playing -- there is no indication of what is really going on, and referring to the instructions only draws another blank. It's a shame really as the graphics are very good, with excellent 3D as you zoom about the complex and the sound effects are very atmospheric, but they are let down terribly by the gameplay. If you like buying games which require masses of attention then this is the one to buy. If you like your games a little clearer and action less frustrating then steer well clear.
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Welcome to Game of the Week! Each week there will be a new featured game on this page. The game may be good, average or diabolically bad, it really doesn't matter! Just look at the pics, read the text and enjoy the nostalgia! :-) Game of the Week! is open to contributions so if you would like to contribute a game article for this page you're more than welcome to! Every article we receive will be considered!
Quake Minus One
1985 Monolith/Beyond
Programmed by Warren Foulkes & Mike Singleton
 
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the eleventh issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (street date: February 9th, 1986).
 

QUAKE MINUS ONE
Monolith, 9.95 cass, joystick only


In the late 1980s a massive automatic power plain, Titan, was built deep under the Atlantic Ocean where the Earth 's crust is the thinnest. The huge complex drew red hot magma from deep within the Earth's core, converted it to energy and supplied nearly all of the World's industrial nations with the power to work their giant factories.

This continued quite happily until disaster struck. The RLF (Robot Liberation Front) invaded the complex aiming to give equal rights to robots. Although they were only a small group of crackpots they were in a position to bargain -- they had planted a device which would interfere with the Titan complex sufficiently to trigger an earthquake -- an earthquake of such epic proportions that it would result in the biggest cataclysm ever endured by mankind! The resulting earthquake from the destruction of the Titan complex would cause immense tidal waves that would totally destroy all cities along the European and Atlantic seaboards. The loss of life, damage to property and the ruination of the world's economy would be incalculable.

The game begins a day before the RLFs device explodes and it's up to you to take control of the complex . . .

Titan is in fact controlled by five separate computers: Zeus, Poseidon, Vulcan, Ares and Hermes. Luckily, government scientists have managed to re-establish contact with Hermes and with just under ten hours to go, it's from Hermes that you start your World-saving quest. You commence the game under severe pressure and it's made even worse by the fact that your base, Hermes, can be recaptured by the other Titans (who have been turned hostile and have been alerted to your presence). If this happens then the game terminates rather swiftly (and so will the lives of millions and millions of ZZAP! readers), so stay cool and keep a level head!

Fortunately it's not all bad news -- the scientists have managed to fiddle with the complex's real-time clock and this can be used to slow the countdown of the bomb and give you about an extra hour of game time. Needless to say that this interrupt has to be used sparingly and only in dire emergencies to give you just that extra little bit of time to complete a task or mission.

When you start the game you are instantly confronted by the rather complex and highly confusing control panel of your submarine craft. Many of the control gauges, like energy, interrupt clock and fuel gauges are easy to read and speak for themselves, but it takes quite a while to learn all the symbols and be able to execute functions swiftly and correctly.

Littered over the seascape are many installations, both friendly and renegade, which may actually be used or destroyed. For a start, there are the five main complex computers which have mobile vehicles under their control. These have to be destroyed since they are very hostile and fire at you whenever you approach them. The roads which run around Titan each have junctions and control of these is vital if you are to get anywhere in the game. When moving about the complex you are made aware of which roads and junctions are currently under your control by their colours: yellow means that the road is under your control, orange means the enemy have them.


[This screenshot was not in the original review]

Along the roads are computer mobiles, the enemy ones obviously need to be destroyed, and rocks that have to be blasted out of the way. Along the sides are many weird constructions, each with a separate function. Control towers stand at the end of each junction and have to he captured it you are to take the road. Factories can be used to repair your submarine vehicle, stopping by them and accessing the correct icons fixes your vehicle after a certain amount of time (the more damage you have sustained the longer the wait).

Other vital (and friendly) installations include the fuel tanks and energisers which can be used in the same way as the factories. Quake suppressors arc highly important and under no conditions should be destroyed -- the destruction of one will advance the Quake Countdown by an hour. Cooling domes also shouldn't be shot -- the destruction of one of these results in a small explosion which destroys everything in the immediate vicinity. Beware of Rigs, these are quite dangerous if under enemy control since they have a fair bit of fire power.

Conducting columns neutralise the effect of ionic blasters (either yours or the enemy's, depending on who controls it). Bunkers are other unfriendly constructions if renegade, as they are heavily armed and extremely difficult to destroy. The final building is the Magnetron, which saps weapon power and eventually damages your craft.

As you move around the landscape everything moves in extremely fast 3D, rather like a swift, continually flowing Lords of Midnight landscape. The technique used was developed by Mike Singleton himself and has been labelled Actionscaping. It is effectively a sort of follow-on of the Landscaping technique first utilised in Midnight.

Moving from one junction to another is fairly slow, but once the movement is mastered you can zip around the complex at quite considerable speed. There are plenty of things to blast as you zoom about and you need to decide which roads and junctions should be captured first. Obviously the further you get into the game, the more difficult it is to defend all your 'fronts'.


[This screenshot was not in the original review]

THE VEHICLE FUNCTIONS

The submarine vehicle is terribly confusing to a novice, but with a bit of practice it is possible to understand and use the functions.

The System keys show four icons which represent the four systems -- engines, pumps, communications and emergency repair. If any of these has a moving icon in its window then the system is functioning well. If the icon stops then there is damage and if the window goes black then that system has been totally destroyed.

On the extreme left of the console is a map showing your current position, the bases which are hostile and those which are under your control. A weapons indicator shows the weapons which can be used and the main display shows mobile functions and weapon selection.

Moving around the complex involves quite a few icons and it takes some practice before a player is able to move around the whole of the Titan complex swiftly. When you reach a junction icons have to be used -- move the cursor over one of the eight directions you want to face. Once you are happy that you are facing in the correct direction then you can put the cursor over the 'move forward' icon and this will send you speeding down the road. There is also a 'reverse' icon so you can zoom along backwards if you so desire. It is also possible to move by accessing the map screen. When you do so the main view screen changes to a plan view of the complex. You can then progress by simply aiming the joystick in the direction you want to go. In this mode it is also possible to stop halfway down a road allowing you to see what installations are at that point. Using this you can also view enemy movement without actually engaging in combat and see areas which are congested with renegade vehicles.

When you're at a junction there are several modes at your disposal: Movement (as aforementioned), Thrust mode (you can thrust forwards or backwards) or Weapons mode.

Weapons mode allows you to select any offensive or defensive weapon which is currently at your disposal. These include mines (which can be dropped on the road), torpedoes (to clear the road), a laser, missile pods (against enemy installations), a fireball gun (wide area devastation), an ionic laser (neutralises an enemy installation's circuit), shock shields (defence) and plasma shields (another defence mode). The vehicle can access either one attack weapon or two defence weapons simultaneously.

     

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Humph! I'm really disappointed with
Quake Minus One. It took ages to get into, due to incredibly poor documentation -- something not normally associated with Beyond games -- and when I finally did get to grips with the game it wasn't as interesting as I thought it would be. Though there is plenty of action it isn't particularly exciting and using icons to do battle in real time can prove awkward. However, the icons are on the whole easy enough to use and adequately defined. As are the rest of the graphics. Sound is used to good effect and the presentation is first class, with the notable exception of the instructions which merely describe the features of the game in a clear, concise manner and not how to play -- it would have saved some time and lots of grief if playing instructions were provided. Still, Quake isn't a bad game -- just one that needs a lot of time and perseverance to gain rewarding results. Unfortunately, I am no longer prepared to do so, but who knows -- maybe you are?
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Presentation 85%
Excellent on-screen presentation, but poor instructions.

Graphics 88%
Fast, effective 3D and and well drawn icons.

Sound 92%
Titan March tune isn't particularly inspiring but the sound effects are superb.

Hookability 53%
Very difficult to get into due to confusing game aspects which aren't explained sufficiently by the unhelpful instructions.

Lastability 70%
If you're willing to persevere then you may glean a great deal of enjoyment, but the less patient will probably find the game too confusing and subsequently boring.

Value For Money 63%
A decent set of instructions wouldn't have affected the price that much and made the game a lot easier to get into.

Overall 67%
Not the outstanding release expected, but still a good game that is unfortunately let down by its poor documentation.

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Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (23 Nov 2004)

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