Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters

by Jim Tripp, Matt Furniss, Neil Adamson
Domark Ltd
Crash Issue 78, Jul 1990   page(s) 45


Planet X is a peaceful place, until from outer space the evil Reptilons arrive. They force the Earth scientists stationed there to create huge war robots to be used to destroy Earth. Enter the heroes of the game - two members of an interplanetary SWAT team attempt a four pronged mission: rescue the hostages, destroy the robots, destroy the Reptilons and finally rescue the lovely Professor Sarah Bellum (Sarah Bellum? Ho ho).

Take your pick of Jake or Duke and go for it! The planet is split into factories, and each one is split into levels. Each level is reached by either a ladder or by activating an escalator. Your first concern is to rescue the hostages, these are bikini clad females, so you don't feel too bad about being thrown into the middle of the fray. Of course, the enemy forces are going to attack you, but with your ray gun and smart bombs killing the myriad robots is a cinch. Each time you're hit your energy goes down: raid the lockers which contain food and bombs. Ray power can be boosted by collecting the crystals dropped by robots.

The Reptilons take all your skill (and a good chunk of luck) to defeat. Can you do it? Play and find out 'cos it really is worth the effort. The sprites are monochrome, but they contain many of the arcade version's humorous touches. The best being the way your character clings to the side of the platform if he falls over. One slight niggle is the low number of playing credits: two aren't really enough to get you very far in the first few games (especially with two players). Despite that, this game (I refuse to repeat the title because I've run out of breath) is fun to play; in fact it's a birrova Smash!

MARK [90%]

This is just like stepping into a cartoon strip! There is a set of full colour pictures that tell the story at the beginning of the game, setting the atmosphere perfectly. The game itself is action packed with robots attacking and unexpected things happening on each screen.

The main moan I have with EFTPOTRM is the control method. As the game is in 3-D, the programmers have chosen a method where you can swivel left and right on the spot and go forwards. This is highly confusing at first: it takes some mastering, believe me!

Graphics are small but full of animation and detail. You have to keep your yes peeled all the time or things like spikes shooting out of walls and the floor swallowing you up will catch you out. The two player option gives even more excitement with both players battling it out together. EFTPOTRM is a must. If you are anything like me (a nutter) you'll enjoy every minute of it.
NICK [90%]

Presentation: 88%
Graphics: 88%
Sound: 81%
Playability: 90%
Addictivity: 86%
Overall: 90%

Summary: Forget the silly title - just play, play, play!

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 55, Jul 1990   page(s) 72,73

Tengen (Domark)
£9.99 cass/£14.99 disk
Reviewer: Matt Bielby

We quite like Domark - they're always a pretty friendly lot - so it's nice to be able to report good things about their games. This hasn't always been the case, as they'll be the second or third to admit, but for the moment they really seem to be on a roll. Hard Drivin', Klax, Cyberball, Castle Master - products to be proud of, every last one of them (even if it took us three days to figure out exactly what Cyberball was meant to be about). And now - hurrah! - along comes a newie that looks all set to knock the rest (with the possible exception of Castle Master) into a cocked hat, in the playability stakes at least. Yes, Escape From The Planet Of The Robot Monsters is a lorra, lorra (lorra) fun.

So what's it all about? Well, Escape captures the rather silly, over-the-top Saturday-morning-down-the-cinema feel of those old Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials to a tee (better than Defenders Of The Earth ever did anyway). You know the films I'm talking about - those ancient cliff-hangers with Buster Crabbe sharing a skintight suit with his incredible expanding waistline, and lots of little spaceships whanging about with sparklers sticking out of their posteriors. More camp than Butlins, but great fun all the same.

Anyway, onto the plotline. You and your pal Duke are a couple of buddies in the interplanetary SWAT team, on a mission to rescue Professor Sarah Bellum (geddit?) and oodles of scientists from the artificial factory planet, Planet X. You see, the evil Reptilons (boo hiss!) have invaded, and are turning the hostages into mindless Robo-Zombies, which they then plan to use to destroy the Earth! The object of the game is simple - run around, shooting as many robot monsters as you can and rescuing everyone else you come across (you do this by just walking into them, at which point they're automatically beamed aboard your orbiting shuttle). And that's more or less it - the shortest review in history. It all sounds quite simple because it is - even Granny could work out how to play, and that's part of the appeal.

Graphically it looks just about average - until you start playing. Each level consists of a series of monochrome flip screens (seen at an odd three-quarters angle like those in Head Over Heels and the Last Ninja games) which are universally clean and crisp. What makes it work though are the interesting little details they've crammed them with. The sprites are all small but well-defined and recognisable, and they move around the place at quite a lick - it takes no time at all to find yourself surrounded by robot monsters and in real trouble!

The robots themselves (half of which look like walking Weetabix men) are nicely designed and animated too. Some of them leave energy-giving crystals behind them when they're killed (energy for your gun, that is, not for you) while food cabinets (and also cupboards containing extra bombs) can be broken into and raided if you know where to look. It's often a good idea to shoot anything that looks worth shooting anyway - lots of computers and things contain extra points at the very least.

Your gun (a simple affair though you can upgrade it later on) works a treat, as does the bomb effect (represented by a giant guff of smoke around your trouser region - straight out of Viz!).

The hostages (hippies or girlies, judging from their hair-styles - I couldn't quite tell which) are suitably useless too. Most of them are still badgering away at their machinery while you rescue them as if nothing's happening (!), while the ones trapped in glass cabinets - which you have to work out a way to open - seem half-way to zombification already! (By the way, I'm not trying to say that either girlies or hippies are useless at all - though most of the hippies I've ever met have been - but that as hostages the scientists in this game are ideal, totally unable to help themselves).

Planet X (the place you're trying to clear of human-kind, remember?) is made up of several sections (or levels) each divided up into a series of platforms. You make your way around these by a series of escalators and ladders - the escalators needing to be started by a switch before they'll do anything. Get to the end of the level and you'll reach a teleport to take you to the next one. (Sadly the maze sub-level that cropped up here in the coin-op has had to be left out of the Spec version.)

There are lots of lovely little touches slipped in throughout the game too - try walking off the edge of one of the platforms, for instance. You won't fall, but'll be left hanging there from the edge, waving your legs about before you drag yourself back up again. (Is that why they call them 'cliffhangers'? Ho ho.) Some of the problems you have to get past are pretty tricky too - mastering the joystick controls takes some practice, but it'll all teem worth it when you find yourself surrounded by monsters on all sides, or faced by a particularly tricky trap. Occasionally there's a slight puzzle element too (mostly in the form of working out what you have to shoot in order to open doors) but they're unlikely to tax you too hard.

And that's more or less it. Faults? Well, it can all be a bit samey, I guess - the levels look similar (bar the colour scheme) and the giant end-of-every-three-levels Reptilon nasties (well, giant in that they're three times the size of you) crop up with monotonous regularity. But two-player mode more or less fixes this.

Basically then a very amusing and well-developed blaster, with no obvious faults, a lot of character and all pitched at just the right difficulty level. A bit of a corker in fact, and bound to be a big hit - let's hope Domark can keep up the winning run for their next one, The Spy Who Loved Me (a bit of a stumbling block I fear, but we wish the boys well).

Life Expectancy: 76%
Instant Appeal: 75%
Graphics: 82%
Addictiveness: 85%
Overall: 83%

Summary: A barrel of laughs - very playable, quite fast and full of little graphic touches. Best in two player mode.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 79, Jul 1992   page(s) 58


Hush, hush - whisper who dares! Who are those figures there on the stairs? It's the Replay gang! (Oh dear.)

Hit Squad
061 632 6633
Reviewer: Jon Pillar

Ah, now I lurve this one. it's sort of like a really good wedge of cheese. When you first take a nibble, it's quite nice. Then you put it away for a bit and forget all about it. Finally, you stumble across it again, take another nibble and find that it's matured remarkably well. Unless, of course, it's gone all green and damp and mouldy. In which case, you probably wouldn't it, but drop it quickly into a bin. Maybe the cheese analogy wasn't such a good idea. I think I'll get one with the review now.

I first encountered the epiglottis-wrecking EFTPOTRM back in issue 76, as part of the TNT 2 compilation. I thought it was a fairly good isometric 3D shoot-'em-up, and gave it 72 degrees. But now (now! Now!) I've changed my mind. The fast dashabout action really gets the pulse a-racing and the squodgy dollops of humour add a real buzz to the gameplay. In two player mode the game's a complete scream and the whole thing is more addictive than, well, a one player game of EFTPOTRM really.

Yes sir, I've seen the light where this game is concerned. Rush out and buy it right now. If you don't like it, toss it lightly into a cupboard for two months and try again. You'll be hooked. Yes you will.

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Overall: 90%

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 101, Jul 1990   page(s) 54,55

Price: £9.99
Reviewer: Garth Sumpter

Oh No! The evil Reptilons, those bastions of baddieness, have kidnapped the gorgeous, pouting Professor Sarah Bellum and taken a number of hostages who they have enslaved.

What's all this to do with you? Well, as one half of the meanest, intergalactic SWAT team this side of the Yoursole Slime worms from Pongo 10, it's up to you (and your partner) to rescue the terrified terrans and give the Reptilons and their base on Planet X a damn good slapping.

You play either Jake or Duke and you must make your way onward and upward - you must activate escalators on some levels using the switch and go up ladders on others. At the end of each level there is a Reptilon Guard who you must defeat before advancing to the next stage. Each player is armed with a laser gun and you begin with 5 bombs which when detonated wipe out all hostile robots within a certain radius. Some of these mechanised morons leave behind crystals - collect these and your Ray Power will increase to devastating proportions.

Escape From the Planet of the Robot Monsters has already appeared in the arcades where it has been no small success story. This could also prove to be way of the game.

The graphics are good - they're clear, well defined and funny. The hostages are rescued by standing near them when they are working at a computer which looks suspiciously like a Mac, or are in glass cylinder-like prisons which are opened by destroying the computer or hardware nearest them. What sound there is, is fine and complements what is an enjoyable and also highly addictive game.

The only small problem is with the controls themselves, Domark having opted for the quirky Ultimate directional and rotational control which means left and right have your hero pirouette on the spot and up moves him forward. This particular form of control was never a favourite of mine but it does mean that all actions are at your fingertips.

Having said that, once you get used to the controls, EFTPOTRM provides excellent blasting fun for up to two players simultaneously, and quite frankly is a must for anyone's blasting library. Excellent.

Graphics: 89%
Sound: 73%
Playability: 85%
Lastability: 91%
Overall: 91%

Summary: Fun, compulsive and fast action with more than its fair share of humour. Fab.

Award: Sinclair User Classic

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 124, Jun 1992   page(s) 44

Label: Hit Squad
Memory: 48K/128K
Price: £3.99 Tape
Reviewer: Garth Sumpter

This is a game that's.... HOLD IT! There's a barely audible radio message coming in on the space ether band from the enslaved humans of Planet X and it says... "The human race is in it up to their gussets again, as the evil Reptilons have enslaved the entirely female population of the planet X and are working to create a robot army with which to conquer the Earth. Someone please help us..."

This is it! We're looking for a couple of heroes to boldly free the girls and kill the evil Reptilons, in the budget version of one of Domark's finest Tengen coin-op conversions.

Up to two players can play simultaneously, with the action taking place over a series of metal tiled floors that are populated with various levels of evil, Reptilon robots. Each of the robots have different characteristics and move at anything from a snail pace to that of a rabid hamster with his bottom on fire speed.

Either avoid or destroy the robots as you make your way around, picking up enslaved girlies and using your potent here though, although it's not very friendly, if you do accidentally shoot a lovely lady, it is graphically rather good. There's also a nice touch if you fall off the edge of a building whilst trying to avoid a robot.

By far the best way of dealing with the robots though is to shoot them. When large robots are shot, they leave behind energy crystals which when collected. will increase your ray power (as shown on the screen) and make you just that little more heroic.

There are escalators between levels which you have to turn on by throwing a switch and on later levels there are evil spiked traps to avoid being impaled upon in order to progress to end of section Reptilons. It's always a good idea to use some of the bombs that you can collect from the lockers to defeat the big nasty and go onto the lifto-matic that takes you to the next phase. Way to go. Get this game.

I've never really been a fan of the 3D like movement of the characters in Escape but there is no denying that this is a very special coin-op conversion that works well, plays well and has a lot of depth on the Spectrum.

Graphics: 84%
Sound: 85%
Playability: 90%
Lastability: 91%
Overall: 90%

Summary: This just has to be the greatest coin-op conversion that Domark ever did. The graphics on the SAM version are easily the best ever whilst the Spectrum version, even in monochrome, is well-drawn, beautifully animated and hugely playable.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Issue 37, Oct 1990   page(s) 97

Domark/Tengen £9.99 £12.99;
Atari ST version reviewed Issue 32; ACE rating 880

EFPRM has finally arrived for the Spectrum, having already being reviewed for all the other major formats. Escaping from the robot-infested planet, you have several tasks to perform along the way, these forming several sub-plots to the game. These sub-plots include freeing human prisoners (who are slaving away in the factories that you travel through), fighting the robots, and on every third level using your collected bombs to kill an evil reptilian.

Something that is lacking in these 8-bit versions is the inclusion of the space mobile maze, which gives a good variety to the 16-bit versions of the game. The graphics are in a tasteful shade of pink and black and the sound is reasonable. The game plays in a similar style to the other versions and almost manages to retain the pace and atmosphere, but the result is definitely a less addictive experience.

Overall: 700/1000

Transcript by Chris Bourne

The Games Machine Issue 33, Aug 1990   page(s) 52

Spectrum Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99

Originally reviewed: TGM031.

Jake and Duke are on the case as two rough, tough SWAT operatives who must stop the Reptilon invasion. On the Spectrum, Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters starts with an impressive intro sequence explaining the plot of the game along with a catchy tune (128K). A nice touch is the arcade game's humourous atmosphere: watch what happens when your character falls over the side. Purchase is recommended.

Overall: 91%

Award: The Games Machine Star Player

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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