Universal Hero

by Chris Harvey, Dave Stevenson, Lee Stevenson, Ray Tredoux, Stuart P. Middleton
Mastertronic Ltd
Sinclair User Issue 55, Oct 1986   page(s) 53

Label: Mastertronic
Author: Xcel
Price: £1.99
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

It's getting very difficult to find exciting new ways of describing games which essentially repeat the same formula over and over again.

I mean, how can you disguise the fact that Universal Hero has approximately the same plot as Spellbound and all those countless other Mastertronic titles where you move your man around, collecting objects, some of which are useful for solving puzzles, opening doorways etc, whilst looking for spare parts to repair your shuttle which will otherwise not be able to repair a space freighter which is out of control and... (cont page 211).

Anyway, it's bounce, collect, select, and use time again, but as such things go Universal Hero is considerably better than most of the competition. For one thing the graphics are large and don't flicker - you don't even notice attribute problems overmuch. For another, I managed to solve a couple of the puzzles within an hour which always cheers me up.

Universal Hero is a kind of Jetman figure and his jumps are controlled by jetpack so they have that slow motion look. There is an interesting mix of landscapes - a few tedious all-purpose caverns admittedly but also some detailed surface areas and control rooms.

You may carry nine items and you will find many more, what is and isn't useful is by no means readily apparent. In addition, sometimes it seems that a combination of objects is required to clear an obstacle. For example, one route was blocked by a fall of rocks, using the dynamite alone was pretty much a damp squid but if I was carrying the plunger as well...

Time limits are mandatory on games such as this. In this case your air is running out - if it should run out completely you get the exasperating advice, 'perhaps you should have filled up somewhere'. I know that.

Universal Hero is quite clever, I especially liked the fact that some problems can be solved by performing a specific action in another location many screens away - it'll take some thought but so far none of the puzzles I've discovered has actually been unfair (not so some other games where picking up some onions and dropping them on a frog opens the security door...)

In any event. Universal Hero once again poses the classic Mastertronic reviewing problem - it costs £1.99 - that's very, very cheap. The game is self evidently good value, and in that sense difficult to sensibly criticise. Nevertheless even taking other Mastertronic arcade adventures as a point of comparison, it's still recommended.

Overall: 5/5

Summary: Not terribly original perhaps, but a very well implemented and visually appealing space adventure.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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