2112 AD

by Graham Stafford, Stuart J. Ruecroft
Design Design Software
Crash Issue 26, Mar 1986   page(s) 40

Producer: Design Design
Retail Price: £7.95
Author: Graham Stafford and Stuart Ruecroft

Apart from being a thirteen year old rock album, 2112 AD is the title of Des Des's latest game for the simple reason that it is set in that year. London in the scenario, is not the fair (?) city we all know today but in fact a massive computing complex dedicated to running the entire country. Everybody is free from participating in menial tasks as robots have been designed to do all the dirty work. Everything is ticketyboo until some naughty hackers go and play around with the system.

Now the supposedly benevolent computer is turning into a digital dictator, using the robots it designed for peaceful purposes to impose its reign of terror. Your task is to locate all the pieces of a Switching Code and insert them into the computer in the correct places. Ten of these are scattered around the complex. You have an electronic companion called Poddy to help you achieve your quest.

The game uses icons for control. These are displayed at the bottom right corner of the screen. There isn't enough room for all of these to be displayed at once so selecting a particular icon changes all those currently shown. To the left of the icon display area is a scrolling message screen used for both game and help messages.

Apart from a Help icon which sends information to the message window when selected, icons allow the control of Poddy, the carrying and use of miscellaneous items collected during the game, the ability to check the current status of both man and dog (or modify each within certain limits) and game options such as joystick selection. Double clicking an icon returns you to direct control of your character on the screen.

Graphics are somewhat akin to those employed in such games as Tir Na Nog as they use hi-res single colour graphic backgrounds upon which the characters move about. The main difference is that each room is a different screen. The characters may also walk into the foreground so the screen scrolls up and down to a degree. As the characters may also move behind objects on the screen, any that are likely to seriously obscure the view, disappear at opportune moments.

Most of the other characters in the game tend to be mechanical in nature. As these are con trolled by the malfunctioning computer, the most harmless looking robots have a habit of hampering you at every opportunity. Items may be placed in their way to stop them or if you have the first aid kit, you can often rectify any minor damage they inflict. For effective control of Poddy, he must remain within the immediate vicinity and this tends to slow you down somewhat until you become accustomed to controlling two characters. Also Poddy must be kept fully powered. There are various power points enabling this but if you neglect him, his usefulness inevitably suffers. Likewise, the main character must be kept fit so it becomes necessary to keep an eye open for food.

The game begins in the central location where the Code ROMs have to be placed. To ensure that they are being collected in the right order, when one is found it should be dropped in this room. If it appears in the special cells it is correct. If it falls to the floor, it has been returned too soon. It doesn't take long for things to get complicated.


Control keys: selectable layouts
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair, Cursor
Keyboard play: very responsive
Use of colour: limited on screen but effective on icons
Graphics: very good resolution and animation
Sound: none
Skill levels: 1

This game resembles Cuchulainn's adventure sagas in only the most superficial respects. It has some good original ideas and an interesting approach to gameplay. Although it takes a while to get used to the idea of dealing with two characters and a series of special function icons, once this familiarity is acquired, it becomes possible to get totally immersed within the game. However, the pace of action is such that unless you found the speed of Marsport satisfactory, you may well decide that this is a little slow for your tastes. Personally, I found it enjoyable to be able to appreciate the animation whilst dealing with the thought provoking problems the game provides.

Oh dear! I'm the sole hope for humanity - well the UK anyway - in this game. DD have made a good job of the icons and the animation and scrolling are both very smooth. The lack of sound made a big impression on me, though why, I'm not sure. I don't think this one holds any major surprises, but it is better than the standard, run of the mill game. I think Graham Stafford could have done better, because the storyline has a lot of potential. It's the first Design Design game I haven't been mad on. The graphics, despite being smooth, don't seem to have anything over those of On the Run. You'll have to pull your socks up Design Design - I wouldn't want my favourite software house getting a bad name.

I first saw 2112AD screens a few months ago from a very shy and retiring Graham Stafford and couldn't wait for the finished version with a robotised Poddy. The first thing that struck me was the way the screen was set up - a sort of cross between Filmation I and II, which creates a tremendous effect with smooth movements and detailed animated characters. Everything, except moving, is done via icons which are large, detailed and easily recognisable. All the things you can pick up could come in useful, and my problem was deciding what to keep and what to give to Poddy. (Don't forget, if you give him too much to carry, he slows down). Lots of pretty graphics and great games with little sound seems to sum up Design Design - and it works most times. One of my favourite games to date.

Use of Computer: 89%
Graphics: 85%
Playability: 82%
Getting Started: 83%
Addictive Qualities: 81%
Value for Money: 83%
Overall: 83%

Summary: General rating: Good animated adventure.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 3, Mar 1986   page(s) 21

Let me make one think clear - I don't like dogs! And this game features a dog, though it's a robotic one so at least it doesn't foul the footpaths. Poddy is the pooch and in theory he's quite invaluable, carrying things for you, blocking enemy robots - all the things you'd expect of a K9 clone - only I kept finding he was in my way or not waiting with me at a door I wanted to go through.

But that said there's a whole heap here that compensates for the robotic Rover's presence, not least being the plot line. This has the London of the future turned into a computing complex, a maze which gives new meaning to the phrase tangle of bureaucracy. However, if you and Poddy can locate the ROM card codes scattered around you can then disable the tyrannical main computer that's busy controlling various robots of its own to stop you. It fancies another 500 year term of office!

Probably the neatest feature of the game is its graphics, slightly reminiscent of Marsport though with depth, so that as you move into a screen it scrolls down and partitions disappear to let you see what lies behind them. That could be anything from the invaluable and inevitable keys to the more dubiously useful, though don't neglect anything, just in case.

As you wander round the corridors of power you'll come across certain problems that are beyond mere picking up. Now it's all down to icon control. While the options are varied it takes a while to get used to them all and they're not printed in the instructions, just via an on-screen Help. There are also several layers of them which can take some flipping through, though eventually they work okay.

All in all a clever arcade maze adventure with some original touches, and that includes Poddy - even though I found him a bitch!

Graphics: 9/10
Playability: 8/10
Value For Money: 9/10
Addictiveness: 8/10
Overall: 9/10

Award: Your Sinclair Hot Shot

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 48, Mar 1986   page(s) 54,55

Publisher: Design Design
Programmers: Graham Stafford and Stuart Ruecroft
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair, cursor

The year is 2112ADa nd technology has advanced... Citizens do all their shopping by computer, work at their computer and derive all their entertainment by computer... All menial tasks are now carried out by robots...

"The city of London... vast computing complex... running the country... turning into a Dictator... oppressing the British public... power... servants...

No prizes for guessing you're reading extracts from yet another piece of cassette inlay hyperbole, in this instance that accompanying Design Design's latest, 2112AD. Sounds more like 1986 to me, but even if it was, it would be just as irrelevant to what you actually have to do, which can be summed up in fewer words: explore the complex, locate the ROM cards, return them to the central room and insert them in the correct order. This, as the inlay puts it rather less hysterically, "will hopefully bring the computer round to a more sensible way of thinking."

And the game's not at all bad.

It's certainly attractive to look at. Clear, detailed screens depict the various rooms in the computer complex, each room a different colour, full of fancy mechanical thingies, gliding robots and whirring wall discs.

You are in control of the wimpish character who attempts to stride purposefully across the rooms. At his heels - or more often than not, somewhere else entirely - is his faithful robo-hound and K9-lookalike, Poddy. A bit like Tintin and Snowy, really.

In fact, the game looks like an animated Tintin book, with its sideways-on, crisp 2D graphics. As your hero and his mutt explore the complex, you can turn them towards and away from you, and there is scarcely a jerk as they change direction. Impressive masking ensures that they can disappear behind banks of machinery and partitions to reappear, hopefully, on the other side.

Below the large action screen is the scrolling message window and, to the right of that, a very complicated icon display. This is used for picking up, dropping and using objects, checking on the status of man and hound and objects carried by both. There are first aid and food icons, and one for unlocking doors.

There are lots of others on further screens, mostly to do with operation of the computer and the joysticks.

Virtually no explanation of these is found in the cassette inlay, which concerns itself instead with listing what the game does not feature ("Bloody Mushrooms! Spray Mount..."). It took me over 20 minutes just to get the Kempston working, by which time I was almost ready to stuff 2112AD and its bloddy Poddy.

Accessing the icons can be frustrating at times, particularly if you're trying to drop a bomb in the path of some approaching robot, but you'll get the hang of it eventually.

You can carry only three items at any one time, but Poddy is capable of transporting many more, so give him the less immediately important ones, such as cans, can opener and light bulb. Give all fuses to him. You can only give or take things from Poddy if he's in your vicinity, so carry the first aid kit yourself, so you can use it if you get separated from him.

There is no straightforward way of controlling Poddy, who operates very much like a real dog - ie unpredictable and frequently stupid. If you enter a room with Poddy he will tend to meander off on his own, but if you remain stationary he will eventually return to you.

If you want him to return quickly - if, for instance, you're about to leave a room - then place yourself in his direct line of vision and thus manoeuvre him towards the door. Wait until he is at your heels and facing the right direction before leaving a room - he cannot exit a room without you.

On the whole, Poddy is not much use other than for carrying objects - though in that alone he is essential. There are, however, a couple of occasions on which he behaves oddly - and it might be worth paying close attention to the directions in which he moves.

Poddy needs constant recharging, and periodically you should get him close to a wall socket and employ the Poddy power icon, checking the Poddy status icon afterwards to see if he has been recharged sufficiently. If "Poddy feels okay" then you should let him have another burst or two so that he feels "good". Take care not to overcharge him; if he blows a fuse he will be rendered immobile unless he is carrying spares.

Like Poddy, you too will run out of energy, so pick up some cans along the way, find the can opener and enjoy the occasional tasty nibble.

Many of the doors are locked, and are opened using different keys. One of the first you'll come across is the Legge key; another is a Chubb, and a third looks like a cashpoint card. Other useful items to look out for are the bombs. These function rather like land mines and can be placed in the direct path of an oncoming robot. You don't have to wait around for the explosion.

The light bulb should be kept for illuminating a darkened room, and use the first aid kit when you've been immobilised by a robot.

When you find one of the randomly placed ROM cards, take it back to the central room and drop it on the floor. If it appears in one of the cells then it is correct; if not, then you'll have to leave it until you find another.

That's about as far as I got, visiting probably only a tiny area of the complex, before Poddy finally ran out of juice, miles from a wall socket. I did discover one idiosyncracy. On leaving one room - yellow - for another, I was transported inexplicably to the central chamber; a useful shortcut, but it's only one-way. It took me a while of back-tracking to locate the hapless Poddy once more.

2112AD is a departure for Design Design, and for me it works a lot better than some of their more recent efforts. There's nothing stunningly original about the pick-up/use/drop object theme, but the graphics take it above many others of the genre.

Why 2112AD, rather than 2110AD or any other exciting year sufficiently remote from the present? Well, programmer Graham Stafford got married on the 21st December, last year. It's nice to know programmers are human too.

From everyone at Sinclair User, congratulations Graham, and all the best for a long and prosperous future, free of robots... Dictators... oppression... power... servants... etc... etc.

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Overall: 4/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 54, Apr 1986   page(s) 26

MACHINE: Spectrum
SUPPLIER: Design Design
PRICE: £7.95

Here at C+VG we have to beg a borrow or steal Design Design games in order to bring you - the people DD expect to go out and buy them - reviews of their products. Why numerous phone calls requesting copies of their games have no effect is anyone's guess...

Still we went out and purchased a couple of copies of their new games - to bring you this look at the cult software team's latest cult games. Forbidden Planet is part three of the trilogy which began with Dark Star many moons ago. It features lots of DD's gimmicks like the hidden game - Space Invaders this time, plus the game that started it all, Halls of the Things, free on the back end of the tape. There's Spectacles 2 as well included in this bumper bundle.

Forbidden Planet itself is a pretty basic psychedelic shoot 'em up with a nice line in weird vector graphics and off sound effects. The usual completely definable game options - you can change just about everything from the sounds to the difficulty level to the screen display - are available.

If you hold down the zero key at the end of the load you'll get a game of Space Invaders. Try holding down the 1, 2, and 3 keys together in the middle of a game, for another free gimmick.

The best part of the game are the "lyrics" which appear on the hi-score table. Written by one K. Jordan they would grace any Marillion or Genesis tune - and they are different each time you load up the game.

If you liked Dark Star etc - then you'll enjoy Forbidden Planet. But you can always get too much of a good thing. 2122 AD is a completely different proposition. It's a really good 3D arcade adventure set in the year of the title when technology has advanced to a stage where society has become completely computer based.

London has become one vast computing complex taking over the job of running the country, providing Government, Law, Food Production and Finance Control.

However, due to the activities of some irresponsible hackers messing with the programming, the computer is quickly turning into a Dictator by oppressing the British public and handing all power over to machine servants it has designed itself.

Your job is to regain control over the computer by finding all the pieces of a Switching Code and inserting them into the computer in the right places, this will hopefully bring the computer round to a more sensible way of thinking. These Codes are stored in large Rom Cards, numbered 0 to 9, and scattered around the complex.

To help, you have a loyal Robo-hound called Poddy, whose numerous uses you will have to work out.

He is controlled by a remote control device you carry at all times.

The control will also perform other useful functions. The display from the remote control device is shown at the bottom of your screen. The left section is a message window, and the right displays various icons.

These are selected by pressing Fire and then placing the cursor over the icon you require and pressing Fire again.

All the icons are explained in the Help Menu, which is displayed by selecting the Question Mark icon. Moving around the complex will delete both your food reserves and Poddy's energy.

There are things in the computer complex that will be useful and some that will be essential, but you will find that most things mechanical are loyal to the computer and will do their best to stop you.

The graphics are all one-colour, prime colour changes from room to room. The sound is pretty basic but animation is good.

2112 AD has real atmosphere and is pretty addictive. The interaction between the main character and Poddy, a K-9 clone, adds an original aspect to the game. It's very playable, too.

Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 6/10
Value: 8/10
Playability: 9/10

Award: C+VG Hit

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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