Dangers in the nether regions
Priceless Diamonds: £7.99 cass, £12.99 disk
Author: Chris Wood, from a concept by Jukka Tapanimaki
In a world far different from our own, you take the part of a spaceship pilot who has environment. To escape you must collect enough of the local currency, diamonds, to escape.
The game is made up of various levels, you have the choice of starting on the first, fifth or ninth - and I definitely advise the first for beginners. This eight-way scrolling world is filled with dangers. Demons spit deadly bubbles into your path, alien generators spew out monsters and goat's heads spit acidic blood. You've still got accidently warped into a hostile your trusty laser though, and the monsters can yield some very useful items when shot. Demon killers are self-explanatory as are brick smashers, but occasionally a question mark appeals which can bestow an extra life, invulnerability, uncontrollability or reverse controls (nasty).
Each level has a set amount of diamonds to be collected, very little time to collect them in. Hourglass objects can extend the time limit by 30 seconds if collected, but diamonds are always hard to find, let alone collect. On many levels tortuous mazes are created by strange alien structures, such as huge spikey globes and big skulls lurking among the walls.
Occasionally a secret door can be found in a wall which will give you access to somewhere previously blocked off, more common are transporters to zap you from A to B. Ten levels of horrific happenings stand between you and freedom, so run like hell, because perhaps that is where you are.
Don't be fooled by the pretty graphics - gameplay is tough. But after several tries you quickly learn the best way to deal with the various problems that arise. Collecting enough diamonds to enable you to warp the next screen is difficult enough, but the added aggro of a timer is nail-biting stuff. Take a good look at Netherworld, and pray that you never get lost in such a place.
Graphics: large, colourful demons and skulls etc, but the scrolling of the play area is a bit jerky
Sound: weird, distorted in-game 128K tune plus some nice spot effects
The first thing that strikes you about Netherworld is the amazingly noisy 128K in-game tune which is so distorted, it sounds like a computer version of the Jesus And Mary Chain! (Who? - Ed.) I suppose it's better than complete silence. The gameplay's the thing, though, and the concept is beautifully simple - and highly addictive. All the graphics are well-drawn and surprisingly colourful (so much so it doesn't look a like a Spectrum game at all). Unfortunately the price of this is some distinctly jerky scrolling, but even this minor technical flaw can't diminish the gameplay. Netherworld represents an intriguing twist to the collect-'em-up theme and as well as being instantly playable, is deviously addictive.
After Cybernoid, Marauder yet another Hewson classic. It boasts fast-action play and perfectly detailed graphics packed with colour. The basic aim is a simple one- collecting diamonds - which may not seem very exciting, but the way it has been implemented is what makes it worth while. The tunes and sound effects complement the game perfectly and add to the overall mayhem. If you want something original, addictive and great to look at, buy Netherworld now.
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