Rogue Trooper on the ZX Spectrum was developed by Design Design and published by Piranha in 1986. It was the first showing in a video game of the blue-skinned soldier of the future, from 2000AD comic, and it is not a bad game at all. In fact: Rogue Trooper on the Speccy was probably the first decent video game to feature a character from 2000AD, as all the previous ones had been terrible.
That said: the blue-skinned super soldier was not actually blue, due to the limitations of the Spectrum‘s hardware, and the graphics – though well-drawn and animated – are mostly monochromatic.
The aim of the game is to search Nu Earth for eight video tapes that, when re-assembled, reveal the traitor who caused The Quartz Massacre and the death of your comrades.
Your only companions are your three Bio Chip buddies: your fallen comrades whose personalities were stored onto chips at the moment of death, and who are now mounted on your helmet, gun and backpack. Your chip buddies “Helm“, “Gunnar” and “Bagman” advise you on your mission with text messages in the information panel at the top of the screen. They’re quite chatty too and come out with the occasional funny comment, like “Ain’t no Nu-Blackpool, huh?” (when walking in the desert), which isn’t really in keeping with the stories in the comic, but is indicative of the humour of the developers, who were known for their in-game jokes.
The isometric landscape is swarming with enemy Norts and you can shoot them to lessen the risk of getting killed while you search for the tapes. The place is also peppered with landmines, but at least they’re easy to spot. If you manage to find all eight tapes you must then deliver them to the Mili-Com space vehicle and reveal the traitor of The Quartz Massacre. Complete the mission and your chip buddies will then be re-gened back to life – probably to be circulated back into service and lose their lives all over again…
Rogue Trooper on the Spectrum is a decent enough adaptation of the famous comic strip. Considering that it’s squeezed into just 48K, it’s a reasonable challenge and a fairly absorbing action adventure.
Rogue Trooper would again appear in another game in 1991, on the Amiga and Atari ST, and again in 2006 on Windows, PlayStation 2 and XBox, and then once again in the excellent Rogue Trooper Redux in 2017. A film is supposedly in the works too, which gives some indication of the popularity of this futuristic war hero.
See also: 2000AD Special.