Reviewed by John Davison jnr


Issue 30

Nov/Dec 87

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Yet another 'budget' release from MicroValue, this time it's a vertically scrolling shoot 'em up, and not a bad one either!

This game will be a right doddle to all the Goldrunner freaks out there, but it is still quite an enjoyable game. The graphics are quite good, showing the large mother ship you are flying over mostly in different shades of grey. On later levels you will fly over large framework structures and around built up areas casting long looming shadows. The alien attackers are each very well drawn, especially the circular shaped ships on which the shading changes as they rotate, making it look as if the light is just catching the flat area of the craft. All of the alien ships fly in formation and are very smoothly animated. The scrolling is very good, the huge mother ships move slowly by without any flicker whatsoever.

The sound in Plutos leaves a little to be desired. The few sound effects that exist are not terribly good but they serve their purpose. Some music might have been nice, though.

The main selling point of Plutos will be the fact that it is extremely playable. One of the main reasons for this playability is that upon losing a life you do not die. Instead, your small spacecraft becomes a 'shadow' (just an outline) and you may continue playing the game, until a few seconds later you turn back into your spacecraft again. This is a great idea, as with most shoot `em ups it is most annoying to have to go back to the beginning of a level if you lose a life.

As with most games of this type, there is not much of a plot. Just a typical 'you must fly above the enormous mother ship destroying the weapons installations and the enemy spacecraft'. To finish a level in Plutos you must 'blind the Sentinel'. The Sentinel is the very last part of each mother ship, and here you must blast away at its eyes whilst it is trying to get you. If you fail, you will have to repeat the previous level, however if you succeed you will be awarded a five thousand point bonus, and you progress on to the next level.

Two player action in Plutos is simultaneous, i.e. both players are on the screen at the same time. Players cannot shoot each other but they must compete for fuel and points. This little feature makes two player games much more enjoyable, as you fight it out for the sparsely distributed fuel icons.

Overall, Plutos is a fairly good game with several nice little features not found in other games. I quite like it, but it's not amazing though, so check it out before buying.