Down to Earth

by Antony R. Lill, Darren Byford, MOS, Martin Pointer, Ralph Emery
Firebird Software Ltd
Crash Issue 42, Jul 1987   page(s) 95

Producer: Firebird
Retail Price: £1.99

As site foreman in control of an Astra-Dozer, you must clear 30 different planetary systems of the hostile inhabitants.

Anyone who's played Dig Dug or Boulderdash will recognise the action and appearance of Down to Earth. In this chaotic geological jumble live three types of alien: dangerous Circsaws and Trigons who must be wiped out and Conenabs, benign to you but mortal enemies of the Circsaws. Don't ignore the Conenabs, though - they multiply quickly and can block off escape routes.

At first these aliens are trapped in soil pockets, but they're released by the Astra-Dozer's activities. Circsaws or Trigons cause instant death, though touching dozers left by previous work crews gives extra lives.

You can drop bombs, or leave them behind to be activated by an alien's touch. Contact with a bomb doesn't destroy you, though the blast does. Extra bombs are found in armoury chests.

Bombs have also been left buried in the soil be previous space probes: if you chobble earth from beneath them and the large natural boulders, they'll fall upon aliens.

As supergalactic four-star is a precious commodity, additional supplies are held in oil tanks. But fuel isn't the only problem - there's a time limit on your mission.


Control keys: Q/A up/down, O/P left/right, SPACE to drop bomb
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2
Use of colour: lively object-differentiation
Graphics: small characters, little animation and extremely jerky scrolling
Sound: very poor
Skill levels: one
Screens: 30 systems

Graphically Down to Earth is primitive; movement is jerky and the characters uninspiring. It plays just like Boulderdash, and just like Boulderdash it's almost instantly addictive and playable - but it's a touch too frustrating. And Down to Earth could have been improved tremendously had the programmers taken time over sound and graphics. Something for Boulderdash-genre fans, this doesn't improve upon the original.

I'm not particularly impressed with this obvious Dig Dub/Boulderdash clone. The tractor's cute with his big beaming face, but the meanies look like they've been nicked from Ballblazer. The scrolling's awful, giving instant eyestrain as the screen flickers from area to area. It's all spoiled by unfairly tough replay, and I still prefer the subtleties of Boulderdash and the simple addictivity of Dig Dug.

I thought we'd got rid of this type of game ages ago. Colour is well used, but the graphics lack the realism and smooth animation needed for an addictive game, and the sound is terrible - no tunes and only three effects. I quickly became bored, and I can 't see myself bothering with Down To Earth again.

Presentation: 52%
Graphics: 39%
Playability: 50%
Addictive Qualities: 45%
Overall: 47%

Summary: General Rating: Latter-day clone of an old arcade game with average playability, but too frustrating to be very addictive. May have some appeal for newer gamesters practising for the delights of classic Boulderdash.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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