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"Games of the Week!"


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I found
Phantoms of the Asteroid a very enjoyable game to play, despite its emptiness and slow speed. While not being graphically outstanding, it is sufficient and the music and sound effects are very good indeed -- especially the title screen tune, which I feel is Rob Hubbard's best yet. If Phantoms of the Asteroid had a bit more to it and was slightly faster it would be really neat, but even so, as it stands it's very good value for money.
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Although being very similar to
Rocket Roger, Phantoms has plenty to offer any budding cartographer or explorer. The asteroid's cave system is absolutely huge and there are loads of nasties just dying to get their teeth into the hero of the game. The graphics and sound within the game are rather simplistic, but the sound on the title screen is really good, with a good ol' Hubbard funky bop thundering away. At 1.99 the game is a steal and should definitely be looked up.
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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!
Phantom of the Asteroid
1986 Mastertronic
Programmed by Colin Gretsy
 
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the twelfth issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (street date: March 13th, 1986).
 

PHANTOMS OF THE ASTEROID
Mastertronic, 1.99 cass, joystick only


The Phantoms of the Asteroid are not the nicest of chaps, if you take trying to kill people as not nice. If you're particularly callous you'd probably think 'It doesn't matter that much. I mean, it's not me they're trying to kill'. Think again, because it is. The asteroid on which the phantoms live is inconveniently on a collision course with old Mother Earth. Obviously everyone's a bit panicky, since it's a jolly big asteroid, one that would cause a little bit more than a slight dent if it hit our bluey-green world. Not only that, but the phantoms also want to take over the planet. Not too nice really.

Well you're a hero and it's your job to blow the approaching megalith to smithereens. Since it's such a large asteroid, a nuclear bomb of gargantuan size is required. Luckily, advance scanners from Earth have detected the existence of 36 uranium cubes on the asteroid, just enough to make meteor dust out of it. All you have to do is collect all three dozen cubes, combine them so they achieve critical mass and then rather rapidly depart to avoid getting mashed along with the floating rock mountain. All very easy, if it wasn't for the force walls, poisonous plants, energy draining phantoms, ever draining oxygen and your fuel-hungry jet pack. Ho hum, well this sort of thing isn't supposed to be easy.

The equipment supplied consists of the bog standard power pack, a handy device that propels anything strapped to it skyward. The power supply, however, runs out very quickly; luckily there are fuel outlets at a number of points around the asteroid for replenishing it. Similarly, your oxygen supply runs out fast, so it's nice to know that there are also oxygen points for topping up. Another handy piece of standard equipment is the gun. This fires in the direction being faced and any phantoms in your way get splatted into phantom ghoulash. Regrettably, others appear to take the ex-phantom's place.

With bulging eyes and gormless expressions, the only real harm the phantoms can do to you is bump your body. This depreciates the energy supply, shown as a histogram on screen. Also histogramically represented is the fuel and oxygen supply; let any of these hit rock bottom and the game's over. Another way of dying is to go full splat into the constantly toggling force shields. To open them you just stand on their control pads and they deactivate for a limited amount of time. You have to hurry since there's nothing worse than having a force wall reactivate through the middle of your body.

The game is represented on a scanner in which your character remains centrally positioned, while the background scrolls as he moves. Up activates the jets in the power pack and lets a hefty flame belch from behind you. To go down just leave the jets off and gravity drifts you floorwards. Asteroidal phantoms home in on you constantly, flying through rocks to reach your location if necessary. Because of the enormity of your task, Mastertronic have thoughtfully provided load and save options to save your current position out to tape -- saving Mother Earth ain't so simple.

     

.
This is all very reminiscent of
Rocket Roger, but just not as good really. The main bugbear I have is its slowness in play. If the game was just a touch faster and a little bit more responsive, I'm sure it would be great fun. The map over which you scroll is absolutely huge and will cause quite a few problems to those into mapping games. I don't like Phantoms, though I'm sure quite a few arcade adventurers will. Still, it may be worth checking out for Mastertronic's meager 1.99 price tag.
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Presentation 79%
Handy on screen instructions plus the inclusion of a save and load option brings this above average mark.

Graphics 60%
Pleasant, but somewhat aged in style. Nice scrolling though.

Sound 91%
Another rip-roaring Rob Hubbard soundtrack.

Hookability 65%
The game plays a little bit too slow to give any real instant appeal.

Lastability 62%
And the slowness continues to irk throughout.

Value For Money 78%
Still not bad for 1.99.

Overall 73%
Arcade adventure fanatics will be likely to hook onto this one but any appeal to other gamesters will probably be limited.

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Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (27 Jan 2005)

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