The frontier world of Basymth has come under attack from the Trimorg empire and an urgent call for help has gone out. Time is short, and five freighters are launched with human skeleton crews aided by maintenance droids. The cargo is a wide range of awesome battle droids. All goes well until the fleet reports it is being scanned from an uncharted field. Minutes later a frantic captain sends a fearsome message - the ship's crew has come under attack from their own battle droids, they cannot hold out for long...
Three days later a rescue ship arrives. Beaming troops aboard the freighters is out of the question, the only hope is a prototype Influence Device. This remote-controlled device floats a meter above the ground, and although it carries a plasma gun, its principal defense is the ability to take over other droids' brains. Your plan is to use this machine to destroy all the fleet's droids...
The game has an overhead perspective, with the ship decks scrolling vertically. When the ID is in motion, pressing fire sends out a plasma bolt. If stationary, fire activates the influence spark - hold down fire and you can move around with it.
When the spark contacts another droid you go into the Transfer Game. This has a single screen with a Central Control Bar split into 14 segments, with wires from left and right. You can pick which side to play from. The aim is to turn as many of the central segments to your color by firing a limited number (depending on your current droid) of Pulsars down the wires. If two opposing Pulsars have been fired at the same segment, the one fired last wins. The exception is if a wire has an Auto-Pulsar - once hit it sustains the charge so this always wins the segment. There are also Splitter wires (divide to hit two segments), Terminators (dead ends), Color-Switchers (turn segment the wrong color), and Joiners (two wires going to a single segment and requiring two Pulsars to work). At the end of the time limit if there is an equal number of Segments per side the game is repeated. If you have most Segments you take control of the droid. If you have least, your current droid (or if none, your ID unit) is blown up!
There are also lifts to take you to other decks, and computers. Log onto a computer and it will show you a deck plan, ship plan and how many droids remain active. If you control a droid it will also show you pictures and info concerning your droid, and all the other droids below it in power. There are 14 droids, ranging from the sluggish vacuum cleaner to military robots and tanks!
There are also Raiders, aliens which are sent in if you do not take control of the freighter in time. If you succeed, you move to the next freighter.
Paradroid '90 is a brilliant conversion, superbly capturing the essence of the original and playing extremely well. Once you get into the game you do not really mind the lack of horizontal scroll. In effect you have got two games in one with the transfer mode on/off toggle; the game is better with the transfer option as it allows for more tactical play. Five ships may not seem a lot but it is difficult enough coping with one deck, let alone one ship.
One gripe, why not a different style of graphics with each new level? It is immensely satisfying to conquer a ship but I would have liked a bit more of a reward than just a different color scheme. What I do love about Paradroid '90 is the humor pervading the game: the ability to fry robots using the shuttle engines is neat, and the computers coming on with a 'whistle' brings forth a smile. What cracked me up was when a drinks carrying servant robot entered the room where I (in the form of the ultimate 999 robot) was, realized what it faced and just as rapidly shut the door and legged it, brilliant!!! More seriously, the varied ways the robots act is a superb demonstration of artificial intelligence; taking out one smart robot was like a replay of Alien.
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