C64 Review of Desolator from Issue 40

ZzapTest Logo by Biggest Jim


The evil and congenitally nasty Kairos has kidnapped the entire population and imprisoned them in his dark castle. Mac, hero of the coin-op, Halls of Kairos, is called into immediate action: his quest takes place over five multiloaded levels within the vertically scrolling fortress. This stronghold comprises passages, chambers and walkways - all of which are viewed from above, Gauntlet style.

A charm has imprisoned the children in the many mirrors hanging from the castle walls. They are rescued and saved from a fate worse than death by punching the mirror panels and collecting the toddlers as they are released. Progress is impeded by Kairos and his cronies: henchmen absorb energy on contact, fire men fire flame shots and swordsmen unleash a continuous volley of sharpened knives. Mac's dwindling energy is shown by a bar at the top of the screen: should this level drain to zero, then - you've guessed it - big Mac becomes a feast for the worms.

Initially, the hero has no armour and can only fight hand to hand; however, by punching rolling barrels and collecting bomb icons, he can improve his weapon power. Picking up nine infants temporarily transforms vulnerable Mac into his incredibly hard and rugged alter ego: the invulnerable Machoman. For a few brief moments he can march through the villain's castle without fear of harm and with his underpants on the inside of his trousers - unlike some superheroes we could mention.

Points are boosted by collecting a series of treasures scattered around the levels; these occasionally materialise when certain icons are gained or landscape features destroyed. Points possessed on capturing these determine exactly how much Mac's score improves or the strength of enemy forces changes. At the end of each level, Mac encounters a particularly daunting set of enemies - these have to be killed before he can move on to the next.

This review was typed in/OCRed by Luke

ZzapBack Logo by Biggest Jim
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 : 20%

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zzap oz - 3 Aug 2005
dont bother!!!!!!

Rating : 20%
Paul Sumner
The hero of this game must a real 'ard man, because he starts his quest with no weapons. The only means of defence at his disposal are his own bare hands, with which he beats the hell out of all and sundry in his seemingly eternal search for the Peters (Mary? Peters and Lee?). Graphically, Desolator is pretty awful: chunky, garishly coloured blobs cripple around seemingly like-minded backdrops. Sound consists of an ear-grating tune that plays constantly: reaching for the volume button is highly recommended. The action is boringly repetitive: punch a few baddies, collect the goodies lying around, hit a few more nasties, etc. To make things worse, our heroic warrior can very often walk through the meanies without sustaining any damage. Sorry, US Gold, I can't say that you have got a winner with Desolator...
Paul Glancey
If a game featuring Blue Peters, telephones, dolls, pandas, castle sketches and a person called Mac whose alter ego is Machoman, isn't odd, I'll eat my Walkman. In spite of such strange elements, though, Desolator almost manages to be a good game. Playability-wise, it's very competent, though at times the player is under-equipped to coping with hordes of malevolent firemen and cats. Not that you can really tell they're firemen and cats, mind you, because the graphics do tend to leave a bit to the imagination. Once you work out what sprite is what, it's apparent that there's a fair bit of variety to the action, certainly enough to hold the player's interest for several hours. It's just a pity that its superficial ugliness may discourage all but the most perseverant, and unless you're feeling particularly affluent, I would check out what else you can get for a tenner this month.
An annoying delay between lives mars the otherwise competent presentation.

Smooth scrolling but very little variety in the backdrops and sprites.

A horrible, whiny tune plays throughout.

The action is very repetitive and unchallenging from the start: if you've played any of the other Gauntlet clones, this won't appeal.

Only five levels, which won't take too long to complete - if you can be bothered.

A feeble and unchallenging conversion of the coin-op.