Amaurote is an isometric action game, developed by Binary Design and published by Mastertronic in 1987. It first appeared on the ZX Spectrum and was later ported to the Amstrad CPC, and it suits the machine quite well.
You control a spider-like craft, called Arachnus 4, that crawls along the ground, scouring the countryside looking for alien invaders. It can shoot bouncing bombs out of a hole on the top of the vehicle. Unfortunately, though, the Arachnus can only fire one bomb at a time, so you have to wait for the last one to explode before you can fire another. Also: due to the craft’s leg configuration, walking along ploughed fields means that it cannot move sideways – just in the direction of the furrows (worth bearing in mind).
The aim of the game is to explore various ‘sectors’ (selectable from a map screen), in order to hunt down the queen of an invading alien insect race. When you find the queen you must then radio in for a ‘Supa Bomb’ to take her out. Her drones crawl the landscape and will damage the Arachnus if they touch it. The idea is to take out the queen before your craft succumbs to damage, although you can radio in for rescue and repair if you’re close to dying. When you’ve completed your mission in one sector the Arachnus is picked up, fixed-up, and then sent to another. There are 25 sectors in total that require clearing.
Compared to the Spectrum version, Amaurote on the Amstrad uses more colours to create an arguably more interesting-looking game. Some might argue otherwise as the colours chosen in this version are a little dour in places. It still suffers from the slowdown that plagued the Spectrum version, although not quite as badly. Other differences: there are horizontally-moving rows of dots at the top and bottom of the screen that are a little distracting, but they seem to be there to show the level of damage your craft has.
David Whittaker‘s soundtrack seems to be pretty much identical to that of the Spectrum 128K version of Amaurote (since both use the same sound chip, the General Instrument AY-3-8912), although that’s no bad thing as it’s atmospheric and haunting and suits the game well.
Amaurote won’t appeal to everyone since it’s quite slow and strange, but it’s not a bad game, if a little frustrating at times.
More: Amaurote on Wikipedia