C64 Review of Citadel from Issue 52

ZzapTest Logo by Biggest Jim


At last! Since April of last year (two editors back!) Martin Walker has kept us enthralled with his diary, day by day detailing his life, his leisure activities and how often he changes his socks. In the odd hour or two aside from writing the many volumes of the diary Martin has also produced his next opus, Citadel. And lo and behold here it is!

Man has colonised much of the the universe in the centuries since leaving mother Earth. But even in this age of advanced technology, a great many things remain a total mystery. One such enigma is that of the barren world far out on the outer rim of civilisation. Probe exploration has revealed a massive underground complex of deserted rooms, corridors and passageways. Deserted that is except for probe-destroying robotic defences. Whoever built the city forgot to switch off the defences, or maybe they didn’t...

Following the probe’s destruction, a remote Monitor Mk IV armed vehicle is beamed down to the surface with orders to reach the heart of the complex and learn all the alien secrets within. The Monitor starts its exploration in the first of eight cities, each city consisting of two levels interconnected by lift shafts, and fiercely guarded by robots and floor guns.


Watcher - Hovers nearby
Stunner - 4 way horizontally / vertically firing
Diagonold - 4 way diagonally firing
Assassin - Rams on sight
Blocker - Fires in all 8 directions
Aggressor - Fires in all 8 directions
Dropper - Fires lethal Homer missiles
Destroyer -8 way firing and fast with it!


Dome Gun Fires in 4 directions horizontally and vertically
Diagun Fires in 4 directions diagonally
Turret Gun Fast at firing in all 8 directions mean!
Steppergun Fires Homer missiles REAL mean!


Rapid Firing says it all
2 way firing rear and front fire
3 way firing forward 3 directional fire
Burst firing long range rapid salvo fire

In theory, Monitor can wander the corridors in complete safety if it doesn’t get too near traps where robots lurk. Stray within two spaces of one and it’ll open to reveal any one of six types of mobile guard or four types of increasingly smart static guns. Protecting long-gone masters, the defences still perform their function with total efficiency.

The long term objective is to reach the heart of the complex, something which will take a lot of puzzling over seemingly impassible defences. A laser bolt will usually do just fine on the guns but often traps contain a never ending stream of mobile guards - best to use discretion and sneak past, especially it it’s a Destroyer or Homer looking for targets.

Monitor has a special capture probe built into its hardware. By activating it Monitor can use switches and pick up weapons. Most importantly however, It can be used to capture enemy robots (although this costs energy). Once caught the hostage robot can be put into any of eight positions around Monitor to serve as a shield and battering ram the stronger the robot to begin with, the longer it will last before being destroyed. The robot can also be fixed in a set position to pass trickier obstacles.

If Monitor gets within two spaces of a trap and it hasn’t opened then Monitor’s luck is in. The ‘trap’ is either a switch (used to turn off forcefields barring the way to other areas of the city), a weapon pod (one of four increasingly powerful types), or an energy recharge pod (like gold dust on the later levels few and far between but priceless when found). Collected weapons will eventually run out of power so make careful use of them.

Our metallic friend also has a finite energy level which can be reduced by contact with laser bolts, homing missiles or suicidal robots. Total destruction results in another Monitor (one of six) being beamed down to the last lift shaft used. A new droid is earned every 10,000 points.

This review was typed in/OCRed by Iain

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 : 92%

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Phil - 15 Jun 2009
I haven't played this as much as I would like, but what a game. Definitely underrated, if only by a little. So well designed, so much thought and effort put into every little thing. Superb job.

I'd whack the presentation up to 94%, graphics up to 90%, and lastability up to 95%.

Rating : 92%
SLF - 23 Jun 2006
I couldn't really get into this one at the time, probably because I didn't have the patience to master the controls and mind-set required by the game.
Looking at it now, I must say that the original review was spot on, if a tad too strict.

The game plays a little on the slow side but excellently so, with new styles and surprises in each level, and its polish truly is remarkable. In the end it proves to be a bit easy, but the learning curve is finely put.

Graphics really shine through, but what is absolutely above the competition is the sound FX: the different background hum for each different level set a superb atmosphere. Both ratings should definitely have been higher.

I by and large prefer this over Paradroid, and hail it as a c64 Classic.

Pr 90, Gr 93, So 96, Ho 75, La 91

Rating : 93%
Ant - 14 Nov 2005
A beautiful, under-rated game. One of Martin Walker's best.

Rating : 92%
Andy Vaisey - 4 Sep 2005
One of my most favourite games ever. This game is really polished and just so playable - the GFX, SFX and gameplay all shine. It took a long time to create, but the time was *WELL* spent. A classic

Rating : 91%
Robin Hogg
Alright, so it hasn’t got the pure, non-stop action of Armalyte, or the unadulterated puzzles of Tetris, but what it does have is a superb mix of the two different game-styles. Presentation throughout is very slick indeed and the graphics, in particular, are faultless, chrome-like shading and look amazing when closely examined. Each city has not only its own unique look but a marvellous background ‘hum’ as well (listen out for the pumps in the Second City). A first class and brain-bending shoot-’em-up.
Stuart Wynne
Well, we’ve waited a long time for Citadel and it’s something of a relief to be able to report Martin Walker has used all that time to excellent effect. On first sight what comes to mind is Paradroid which also has an overhead view of robot warfare, but Citadel plays a lot differently. While shoot-’em-up reflexes are vital, the real heart of the game is thinking ahead and most importantly not panicking! The background graphics are above-average, but what really shines (literally) are the enemies. The one I like best has a sort of strobe effect inside it superb! This is an excellent game, and if you’re prepared to persist for the hour or so it needs to fully get the hang of, then you’re in for a real treat.
Phil King
Citadel is one of the most absorbing games I’ve played in ages. Far from being the fast shoot-’em-up most people expected, it is an original mixture of strategy and arcade action, with the emphasis on the former. Simply charging around trying to blast everything in sight triggers more traps than can be handled. If you want to avoid an early grave you must plan your attack, then charge around blasting everything while following a plan. The eight levels present a big challenge, but even when you’ve just died after spending ages getting somewhere, there’s something which draws you back. Beautifully presented with an excellent soundtrack, Citadel is a great original game a classic not to be missed.


Demonstration sequence, random / normal trap layout with a superb attract mode showing what's lined up.


The enemy robots are so well polished they look brand new. Subtly different cities contain well-drawn pipes and corridors etc.


Each city has its own type of highly atmospheric 'hum' accompanied with above-average tunelets. The pounding title tune is brilliant too.


First attempts will be met with utter confusion but the method of play is quickly mastered and easy to use.


Eight cities increasing dramatically in difficulty with the random traps to pose a REAL challenge even if you complete the game.


It's been a long time in the making but Martin Walker's come up with the goods in fine style. An excellent cross-breed of shoot-'em-up and puzzle action.