Universal Hero

by Chris Harvey, Dave Stevenson, Lee Stevenson, Ray Tredoux, Stuart P. Middleton
Mastertronic Ltd
Crash Issue 33, Oct 1986   page(s) 126

Producer: Mastertronic
Retail Price: £1.99
Author: Xcel

Captain Burt has only 7 seconds in which to save the world. How will he do it? Slowly the captain swivels his chair around and stares at you coolly. 'Don't worry,' he says in a macho voice, 'I have a plan…'

Poor old Burt is in a right pickle. A space freighter is out of control and determined to blow up. This in itself is quite an alarming prospect, but to add to the dilemma, if the freighter does go K A P O W then poor old Captain Burt will be stranded on a horrid asteroid and will never get back to Mother Earth. Not ever.

What a terrible position to be in! But there's more. The space freighter is up in space and Burt is stuck on the asteroid. His only means of transport is a rather decrepit shuttle which just so happens to be broken. Contending with a pressing time limit, Burt must repair the shuttle, zoom off to a neighbouring planet, collect the spare parts for the ailing freighter and mend same before it explodes. Gasp! And all in seven seconds. As we said before, how will he do it?

The spare parts to mend the shuttle are scattered all over the asteroid and must be collected in order to get the shuttle back on the road, to mix a metaphor. This should be an easy task but most of the vital pieces of the shuttle are possessively guarded by various alien horrors and contact with them results in Burt's valuable air supply being sapped away. At the start there are four air bottles, but these are used up pretty quickly as he hurtles around the space rock. However, to make sure Burt has something useful to inhale; new air bottles can be picked up along the way. Oxygen status is displayed at the top of the main screen. When the chart reaches the red section on the fourth bottle you know it's going to be curtains for Burt very shortly.

Not all the objects on the asteroid are helpful and often you don't know this until they are safely tucked up in Burt's space suit pockets. Some are lethal such as the lump of Plutonium; some simply uncomfortable like the rough glass. Objects are picked up and stored by using the defined cursor keys and with nine pockets nine objects can be carried at one time. Objects can also be dropped and used when required and to know what's carried, a key press reveals the Inventory.

To move around, Burt is equipped with a jet pack that can propel him to great heights or carry him over large chasms. The asteroid consists of a series of underground caverns, as well as the knobbly surface which hides many surprises and many dangers. Watch Captain Burt as he battles to save the world (and himself of course!) in all of seven seconds. Gee, what a hero!


Control keys: redefinable
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Keyboard play: great, very responsive
Use of colour: excellent
Graphics: very nice characters and good backdrops
Sound: nothing revolutionary
Skill levels: one
Screens: 128

I was pleasantly surprised with Universal Hero. I found it very easy to get into and exciting to play. All the characters are extremely well detailed, with a great drawing of a Spectrum Plus in the Computer Room. The game revolves around putting items together and then using them to get other items, and is consequently very addictive, involving as it does the need for a quick mind as well as accurate moving. The 'feel' of the way that Burt moves around is excellent, but rather annoying when you actually bounce off ceilings and do not hover properly. Universal Hero is surprisingly smooth in its movement and is completely flicker free. A mass of Spellbound problems in a very complex game. Well worth the meagre two quid.

Molecule Man was a very good game, excellent at the price. Looking at Universal Hero, I begin to ask myself, have MASTERTRONIC turned over a new leaf? This game is good, not mega hyper ultra brill, but good, and excellent value for money. The puzzles are maybe a little simple, but the game plays well, and has addictiveness that more than justifies its meagre price. This is well worth buying, even if only because you won't have to save up for it.

It's been a long time since I've seen cheap software as fun to play and as compelling as this. It plays in a similar way to many other problem solving games although the problems, initially simple, get very hard towards the end. Graphically this one rates quite highly as the backgrounds are very nicely detailed and the large and porky characters whizz around well. Colour, too, is used to maximum effect without any attribute clash. The sound would have been greatly improved if there was a tune on the title screen, but there are some spot effects which are reasonable. Universal Hero certainly offers great value for money, so I recommend it.

Use of Computer: 81%
Graphics: 81%
Playability: 84%
Getting Started: 87%
Addictive Qualities: 84%
Value for Money: 90%
Overall: 83%

Summary: General Rating: Well done Mastertronic!

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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