|★ AMSTRAD CPC ★ GAMESLIST ★ TRAKERS (c) ★|
When you're bored of fighting the street, why not explore a hostile alien planet? It's a good, dean, and productive way to spend your free time.
No, it's not a spelling mistake, it's the name of a droid that used to belong to the crew of the Start, an intergalactic exploration team. Anyway, through various mishaps, Trakers gets left behind when the crew's ship takes off for brave new worlds, leaving him on a hostile old one, Magellanx. So you've got to wander around, somehow finding 10,000 credits to buy a one way ticket home. It's a nice, straightforward, down to earth (literally) plot. You play the part of Trakers. a cute little droid who's head bobs up and down when he walks (or rattier rolls - he's on caterpillar tracks). On to the game.
Hold on a minute, this is Dizzy! Oh no, sorry, my mistake, it's actually quite good. The idea is the same though, romping around a flick screen world collecting and using items in conjunction with static features (computer consoles, etc) and other items. As with Dizzy, this combination of gameplay styles divides the game clearly into two main elements - puzzles, and reflex.
The puzzle side to the game seems very well written, with each object having a logical purpose, and each problem having a logical solution. For instance, you'll need the passport to get past the gate to the city, a cash card to get some money from the cash machine, a lighted piece of wood to set off the dangerous gasses... (That's enough clues for now. - Ed) Occasionally, you will find objects that don't have any immediate use, just as you'll come across obstacles that take you a while to get past. What may be a slight turn off at first is that objects are nearly always placed absolutely miles away from the location where they're needed, but once you've experienced this for the first time, you learn to make use of your various trips.
The other side to the game is, of course, the reflex/timing angle. There are still the standard dangerous objects and situations to manoeuvre little Trakers round, as well as lots of meanies to avoid. The timing needed here is. to be fair, superhuman at times. There will be the odd screen which will have you putting your head through the monitor (try getting to the sea. for instance).
Of course, exploration is a major factor of both game styles, giving a possibly quite linear puzzle game new depth, and a quite demanding timing game strategy. So combined, the three factors of Trakers make up a game that is really quite varied, interesting, and above all, fun! Though the map only boasts a modest 100 screens, the game makes use of objects and locations in such a way that you won't run out of space, and you won't run out of map.
Another thing that makes Trakers so special is the graphical polish. (Buy some Graphical Polish today. Only 15 shillings a tin. - Ed} The scenery is never boring, and hardly ever repeats. How on earth so many graphics and sprites were ever stored in 64k is beyond me, as the library of sprites and static features is truly huge. The sprites are all well animated, with no flicker, and no jerking. The loading screen and a few elements in the game itself do give the impression that 'cute' is trying to creep in at the edges, but it's nothing to worry about, as nothing even remotely resembles farm produce on legs, and there's not a scrap of fur to be seen.
The artwork is second to none. The scenery all blends nicely, and actually manages to add an air of loneliness and desolation. The city is full of high roofed, silent rooms, and the outside computer terminals look overgrown. Nasties take a variety of forms, ranging from Jet Set Willy style floating meanies (though they're much nicer to look at than JSW ever was) to slightly more normal
birds, butterflies and such. From what we've seen, there isn't a single ambiguously drawn object in the entire game.
Graphically, Trakers explores a slightly different avenue to the likes of Prehistorik II and Super Cauldron, in that the emphasis is on atmosphere and impression rather than how many things move at once (not that there's anything wrong with either style). This, though not as visually mind blowing as Titus's two releases, shows an incredible amount of care on the part of the artist.
The title screen erupts with a dramatic bong, an atmosphere which stick around throughout the package. Spot effects are sweet, with the odd little splash, rumble, plink (when you manipulate an object), and the like.
It's all really cheerful, right? 'What a fab game,' you're thinking. Well, there is the odd downer, as with any game.
Gripe - timing. Remember earlier I mentioned the need to have reflexes at the superhuman end of the scale? Well, the further you progress through the game, the more difficult things get. Okay, a nice moderated difficulty factor does a game the world of good, but there are some deadly obstacles that place your progress (or even life) very firmly in the lap of pure fluke.
Some screens don't require practice so much as continually re-trying until you either die or get past. This will irritate you - as soon as you know you're going to have to travel across a certain part, you can automatically write off three or four lives as natural wastage. This is a downfall - not enough to detract from the game in any big way, but enough to put you in a bit of a bad mood at times. It might be wise to bear in mind that this review was written by someone who managed to chew through seven joysticks in half over the space of half an hour though, and so maybe isn't all that balanced.
This slight lack of consideration in some screen designs won't ruin the game for you though, as the initial ease whilst you get used to the format gives you a taste of a game you'll want to see a lot more Of. This definitely gives the game a very good initial attraction, and serves as a very good advertisement for the rest of the game.
Once you've got a little deeper into the game, you will come across some of those irritating screens, but even when you're ready to find the authors and kill them, you'll keep playing. You see, this game is anything but linear. If you don't feel like solving one puzzle, you can spend your time doing other stuff instead, and leave the harder stuff till you feel up to it. Such game design is refreshing, showing care and attention we rarely see in a game these days.
All in all, then, Trakers is a damned fine game. It's well written, and incredibly good fun to play. It's graphically appealing, with atmospheric sounds to accompany the equally moody setting. If you don't get this one, you're missing out on two counts. First, because Trakers is a damned fine game, and secondly because it's the start of quality home-brew games for the CPC.
CPCrulez[Content Management System] v8.7-desktop/cache
L'Amstrad CPC est une machine 8 bits à base d'un Z80 à 4MHz. Le premier de la gamme fut le CPC 464 en 1984, équipé d'un lecteur de cassettes intégré il se plaçait en concurrent du Commodore C64 beaucoup plus compliqué à utiliser et plus cher. Ce fut un réel succès et sorti cette même années le CPC 664 équipé d'un lecteur de disquettes trois pouces intégré. Sa vie fut de courte durée puisqu'en 1985 il fut remplacé par le CPC 6128 qui était plus compact, plus soigné et surtout qui avait 128Ko de RAM au lieu de 64Ko.