Agent X

by John P. Tatlock, Steven Tatlock, Tim Follin, Gremlin [2]
Mastertronic Ltd
Crash Issue 37, Feb 1987   page(s) 117

Producer: Mastertronic
Retail Price: £1.99
Author: Steven Tatlock

A mad professor has run off with the President of the United States, planning to brainwash him and start World War Three. Agent X, being the best available, has been selected by the World Powers to make a rescue attempt.

The four stages to the mission are loaded separately from the B side of the cassette. A window below the main playing area shows the trench-coated figure of Agent X on a path that leads to a tombstone. Each time a mistake is made the figure takes another step towards the grave, but Agent X gains a little bit of life force when a new stage of the game begins. A vertical bar on the right-hand side of the screen indicates how close our hero is to completing the current section.

Agent X starts out at the wheel of a car which travels along a diagonally scrolling roadway. This vehicle is under continual attack from other road users who try and nudge it into the kerb or trap it behind obstacles. Being a Secret Agent's car, it is capable of leaping into the air to avoid crashes. At the end of the road the car stops outside a mine...

In the mine, Agent X is seen for the first time in all his glory, complete with trench coat, drooping fag and pork pie hat. He's on foot and makes his way along a horizontally scrolling tunnel, jumping over runaway trolleys that trundle along the floor. The professor's evil minions approach from the left and right and must be kicked or punched out of the way if they get their blow in first, Agent X is sent flying off the screen and the little figure gets a bit closer to that tombstone.

Level Three finds Agent X inside the professor's lair. From the security of a fortified compound, the mad scientist hurts missiles at our hero. Objects are propelled towards the agent from eight doors at the back of the screen which open at random to disgorge a projectile. A cross-hair sight is moved around the screen to target Agent X's gun, and the professor's projectiles have to be shot out of the air. When the bad boffin's stock of missiles is exhausted, you get a shot at the evil kidnapper before moving on to the final level.

To conclude the mission Agent X has to fly a helicopter through a cave system avoiding missiles and crusher bars that move, pincer-like, from floor and ceiling. The cave opens onto the sea, where the professor has constructed a series of platforms from which his henchmen launch themselves using jetpacks. They do their best to blow our hero from the sky. At the end of the scrolling sea there is a platform which contains a bomb. Agent X must collect the bomb, fly back through the cave network, deposit the device on the roof of the professor's HQ, and then fly back out to sea to avoid the blast.


Control keys: Q up, A down, O left, P right, M fire
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Use of colour: a bit restrained
Graphics: good detail and animation
Sound: amazing music at the start, okay effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: three scrolling play areas and the shoot out screen

Perhaps this isn't one of the most original budget games ever, but it is certainly one of the best I'm impressed with this: it has everything a game should have - my only moans are that it may be a bit easy to complete and that the multi-load is a real pain. The graphics are a bit of a mixed bag really: the first few sections are excellent, but after these the graphics stmt to get a bit iffy. The sound is the best feature. The title music is without doubt amongst the best 48K music around. The effects aren't bad either. For two quid you won't regret buying this at all.

It seems to me that MASTERTRONIC have now established themselves as one of the top software houses in the country. They continually come out with well polished products at an affordable price. Agent X is another bit of fun software: its presentation is great and the game is playable and addictive. The graphics are some of the best budget type around and contain a good mixture of colour. Agent X is not initially addictive, but after a while I found myself rewinding the tape without complaining at the multi-load. Even if it is fairly easy to get past the first two levels, the game is fun to play and is great value for money. Well worth buying, if only because it's a bit different from the norm.

Wow! For £1.99, this has got so much content. The graphics are all fairly neat, but I dislike the need to continually restart and reload. I suppose it's unavoidable, but it is a little bit more frustrating to die on a multi-load game than on a normal one. For the money, Agent X is a crucial purchase, because without it you miss all the fun! Loads of content, in some very different games, all of them very well done. Worth every penny.

Presentation: 92%
Graphics: 82%
Playability: 83%
Addictive Qualities: 81%
Value for Money: 94%
Overall: 85%

Summary: General Rating: A great piece of budget software.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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