Astroclone, ZX Spectrum

This 1985 release from Hewson Consultants is basically a futuristic variation of the classic Avalon/Dragontorc games by Steve Turner. It uses similar presentation and game mechanics to those games, with a central character moving around pseudo 3D rooms, exploring and solving puzzles.

Astroclone is split into three different ‘phases’ – a strategic phase, a space combat phase, and a ground combat phase.

The strategic phase is basically a map of different sectors, each showing the location and strength of your forces, plus the strength of the enemy in that sector (indicated by the skull icon). Enemy-controlled sectors are shown in green. You can turn these yellow by clearing enemies from each sector and placing your ships in them during the space combat phase.

The ground combat phase is probably the most interesting part of the game and it involves you controlling an ‘Astro-Clone‘, exploring a maze of rooms inside an enemy base and ultimately trying to destroy it.

The Astro-Clone has three modes of control: movement mode, arm mode, and laser mode. Movement and laser modes are obvious enough (one allows you to move around and the other allows to you aim and fire your laser), but the ‘arm’ mode is the one that allows you to pick up and use items that you find while exploring.

If you encounter hostile enemies in a room you must enter laser mode, aim your cursor at them, and blast them before they deplete your energy. It’s a clunky way of doing combat, but it works okay. It’s also very similar to the combat system in Avalon/Dragontorc.

Manipulating objects and tools is also quite clunky, but when you get used to it it works well enough.

Astroclone is an involving and interesting game, but it won’t appeal to everyone. Like the previous Avalon games on which it was based it was only ever released for the ZX Spectrum.

One final note of interest: Astroclone is considered to be part of the “Seiddab Trilogy“; a series of games written by Steve Turner, but it is actually the fourth game in the series, which should make it a quadrilogy and not a trilogy… Seiddab, incidentally, is the word “baddies” written backwards.

More: Astroclone on Wikipedia

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