Producer: Gremlin Graphics
Retail Price: £7.95
Author: Gremlin Graphics in-house
If Matt Trakker had known he was going to have to enter a time vortex to rescue his fellow MASK agents, he wouldn't have enjoyed his breakfast cornflakes quite so much.
Created by the odious organisation VENOM, the vortex has delivered Trakker's colleagues to four other times - Boulder Hill, Pre-Historic days, the Far Future and VENOM Base - in this licence featuring characters from the MASK TV cartoon series and Kenner Parker toy range.
There are two agents awaiting rescue in each time, save in the first where Trakker rescues just one agent and his own MASK - which gives him superpowers.
To begin the rescue operation, Trakker must enter the vortex in his flying car Thunderhawk, already racing against time. First he needs to put together eight keys. Each has been split into four parts, and must be pieced together on an assembly screen; there are useless bits of key lying around to confuse Trakker, though, and only six parts can be carried at a time.
Our hero needs the keys to activate two scanners which will locate his missing agents. Following the scanners electronic directions, Trakker can pick up his fellows by driving Thunderhawk into any doorways that might imprison them. A MASK agent will leap for freedom into the flying car - and then the search for his own MASK can begin.
Trakker's task is not made easier by obstacles that block Thunderhawk's path, so he collects bombs to remove them - a quick getaway is essential, though, because the destructive devices can wipe out Trakker as well! Up to three bombs can be carried at a time.
In each time, different perils are encountered: falling boulders in Boulder Hill, pterodactyls in the Pre-Historic period, UFOs in the Far Future, and at VENOM Base erupting snakes and lumbering firing tanks. If they're not destroyed by Thunderhawk's weaponry (for points as well as satisfaction), these can damage the vehicle. Damage is shown on a indicator display, and repair kits must be collected when two units of damage have been sustained.
After the agents on a level have been rescued, they can be returned to the vortex, and Trakker can make his way to the next of the unknown times.
Finally VENOM Base can be destroyed in a series of deadly stages - and then Trakker's ultimate goal is achieved, and he can go home for another soothing bowl of cornflakes.
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: well-defined; monochromatic playing area
Sound: 128 tune and additional FX
Games based on popular toys have never really worked before - Transformers and Challenge Of The Gobots were letdowns - but MASK 1 looks like it'll put all that right with a very involved puzzle/shoot-'em-up game. It's well-designed, well-executed and immensely playable, and has enough action to prevent it from becoming too much of a cerebral exercise. Controlling Thunderhawk may be frustrating at first, but when the inertia effect has been overcome it's positively useful (especially when dodging the falling rocks on Boulder Hill). MASK 1 is a game to spend time over and work at - definitely no one-minute wonder.
Graphically MASK 1 is very good, with a horde of nasty VENOM baddies chasing our hapless hero around a solid, colourful screen. Sound, though, consists of the usual bangs and crashes, and control is quite fiddly - but the game's addictiveness keeps you playing.
MASK 1 certainly has the graphical appeal of a successful game, but it's too tedious to keep you interested - most of the time is spent trying get hold of a very uncontrollable car. The layered graphics give as strong a feeling of 3-D as possible, but the lack of colour detracts from the atmosphere of the different eras. Though MASK 1 stands out from the others of its genre, mainly because of the graphics, it lacks the edge of appeal.
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