C64 Review of Sentinel, The from Issue 20

ZzapTest Logo by Biggest Jim


The Sentinel -- all seeing, all powerful...almost. No-one is quite sure who or what it is or where it came from, but it's here. It's here and if it isn't stopped it will take control of the whole universe. It will drain the energy from every planet in our solar system, redistributing it as it sees fit. It has already conquered 10,000 worlds, and now it will claim ours.


A miracle. The creation of a robot. A Synthoid. A lifeless shell powered by thought. An entity with properties similar to those of the Sentinel. Capable of absorbing and shaping energy to its own requirements. Capable of destroying the awesome threat.

And so the Synthoid is transported to the nearest planet ruled by the Sentinel. It's objective is clear: eradicate the presence of the Sentinel and reclaim as many of the 10,000 worlds as possible.

Each planet dominated by the Sentinel is presented in first person perspective and is fashioned into a landscape comprising of three-dimensional solids arranged to form hills, valleys and chequered plateaus on which trees are planted. The Sentinel always stands atop the highest point on the landscape. The Synthoid always materializes at the lowest point. To dispose of the Sentinel, the Synthoid must absorb it. However, to do this the Synthoid must be able to see the base of the square occupied by the Sentinel. This is the only way an object can be absorbed.

The Synthoid is not part of the landscape or the energy distribution, so its appearance is not detected by the Sentinel ... until the Synthoid absorbs a tree and affects the planet's energy status. Should the Sentinel detect such a change in the balance of energy, it will slowly turn clockwise or anti-clockwise to view its surroundings in an attempt to locate the source of the imbalance, is: the Synthoid. Once located, the Sentinel will slowly drain the Synthoid of all its energy, reverting it to trees which are then replaced at random positions on the landscape.

If the Sentinel can't see the square on which the Synthoid resides, it can't absorb the Synthold's energy. So, the Sentinel creates a Meanie from a tree near to the Synthoid. A Meanie can't absorb energy, but it can force the Synthoid to hyperspace to a different, possibly more inconvenient part of the landscape. Three units of energy are lost when the Synthold hyperspaces (Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it only changes from one form into another). Both Synthoid and Sentinel have the ability to manipulate energy thus, energy permitting, the Synthold can change a portion of its energy into another object: either a tree, a boulder or another robot.

The Synthoid cannot move physically. However, by creating another robot shell it can transport from one point to another, provided the base of square onto which the Synthoid wishes to move is visible. Once the Synthoid has teleported, the old shell can be absorbed to regain the energy lost.

If the Synthoid places a robot on top of a boulder and then teleports, it can increase its 'height' and see squares which were previously out of view. By continually using this technique, the Synthoid can make its way around the landscape until it can see the base of the square occupied by the Sentinel, whereupon it can absorb the Sentinel.

Once the Sentinel has been absorbed, no other object can be taken. So, the Synthoid must place, robot shell where the Sentinel once stood and hyperspace to another planet. The more energy left after hyperspacing, the further the Synthoid will travel. Thus, by absorbing a sufficient amount of energy it is possible to hyperspace from the first planet to say, the twentieth.

Each planet has a special security code -- given after the Synthoid has absorbed the Sentinel and hyperspaced. By using these codes, the Synthoid can progress through the 10,000 levels without having to start from the first planet every time.

Higher levels also feature Sentries --- creatures which look slightly different to, but behave exactly the same as the Sentinel. However, the Sentries remain active once the Sentinel is absorbed, so they are best disposed of before the Sentinel. There can be as many as five Sentries positioned on landscape along with the Sentinel, each posing a problem of its own.

Julian Rignall

Mmmm _ For quite a few days now there, have been arguments over the ratings to this game. I'm in a minority here at ZZAP!-- I don't think The Sentinel quite deserves the Gold Medal awarded to It, personally I think a Sizzler rating is more fitting. OK, so It's a good game which I initially really enjoyed playing, but I couldn't quite find that extra something to keep me coming back for another go, Admittedly, The Sentinel is an amazing concept, one of the best a home computer has seen, and there's plenty there, for those who like the game. But I couldn't quite get into it. perhaps I'm completely wrong ... What I strongly recommend you to do is try it out for yourself first -- you could either love the program, appreciate its qualities like me or just downright hate It. After all, our reviews are based on a balance of personal opinions -- sometimes unanimous, sometimes not.

This review was typed in/OCRed by Brigadon - Zzap!64 Online

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In the spirit of ZzapBack, you can have your say about how the game reviewed above, stands up in the cold light of today. Has it aged badly or is it still worth a few plays? Read other peoples thoughts and post your own.

The current ZzapBack rating is : 100%

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zzap in oz - 27 Jul 2007
mind blowing!

Rating : 100%
Sean Masterson
Oh dear, what have Firebird done? How can they expect to sell an absolutely brilliant game when it depends on your capacity for deduction under pressure? Yes, sad as gels must seem, gels game makes you think. I know this will come as a shock to some of you who have only ever pressed fire buttons before, but really It's not all that bad. In fact, contrary to popular belief, it may be f