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Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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Dougie Bern
Chris Bourne

Dougie: This is the biz! Critical Mass is one of those all too rare games that combines some of the tried and tested methods of a golden oldie. Asteroids, with plenty of new and refreshing elements.

Far out (Man? Ed) In the galaxy, at the outer edge of man's expansion, a colony of humans is under attack - only this time the aliens are being very sneaky about their subterfuge.

Now there's none of the old full frontal onslaught - after aeons of playing computer games we humans have learned how to handle that! No, they've sneaked in the back door and captured the colony power supply that's located on an asteroid. It's from there that they're threatening self-destruction unless the colonists capitulate immediately. Stay calm - help is at hand!

You have to penetrate the alien defences on the asteroid and disable the anti-matter plant before it can reach Critical Mass. That's the only way of ensuring that the asteroid and everything else within a few billion light years of it, doesn't disappear down an extremely large black hole.

You hover above the barren surface of the asteroid in your land skimmer - a tricky task on its own as it's a ground effect vehicle and so extremely hard to manoeuvre. Plus, you must also defend yourself against marauding alien ships, look out for rocks and watch out that you don't run over the land mines. If your ship is hit, it'll eject you just before it's blown to smithereens, so you've a chance to reach a replacement pod. But keep a sharp eye out for the Dune-style worm creatures that come wrigglin' and writhin' out of the sand on the trail of breakfast.

The graphics and playability of this game are superb, making it well worth the money. 9/10


Screenshot Text

Your ship uses a hovercraft-style principle so it's pretty tricky to control. You have to turn the ship in the direction you want and then apply the thrust in the opposite - direction!

Mined the Gap! Stationary landmines are no hassle but the spinners move around and are almost always fatal if you hit them...

Alien ships don't really harm you but they do get in the way and slow you down.

When you're flying, the arrow shows the direction of the next alien attack wave. If the ship is destroyed, it shows the direction of the nearest emergency pool.

The place is riddled with Sandworms, particularly if you're using your emergency jetpack. But they can't actually kill you as long as you've got some energy left!

Mind the rocks and heaps of jagged crystals as they'll drain your shield if you hit them.

This indicator keeps track of your score and the time left till the reactor blows - when it reaches zero, it's all over folks!

Don't go crazy with the laser - you've only got a limited amount of energy and you'll need it to make it to the next zone...