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MASK III: VENOM Strikes Back
|Genre||Shoot em Up|
|VENOM definitely strikes back via this great and addictive game from Gremlin. Mask III is a horizontal scrolling action platform game packed with detailed graphics and challenging puzzles. It is another great addition to the MASK series, released for the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 and MSX home computers.|
STORY / GAMEPLAY
This is the third and last game in the MASK series. Equipped only with a spacesuit this time Matt Tracker (also appeared in MASK and MASK II) signs up on a mission to rescue his son Scott that's been kidnapped by VENOM and kept imprisoned on the Moon! Teleporting onto the moon's surface, Matt starts a perilous journey through a lunar landscape of hills, depressions and vast stretches of deadly waters, while doors occasionally allow entry into inhabited parts of the Moon base. The planet is swarmed by hazards as VENOM's defense systems are in full alert, including blockbusters, death-spheres, serpents and angels of death, while projectiles hurtle through the air. Matt can collect and choose between four types of masks: the PENETRATOR mask that allows him to walk through walls and temporarily de-materializes his body offering invisibility; the JACCKRABBIT mask that allows Matt to fly along with double power particularly useful when having to pass through long stretches of water; the LIFTER mask, that allows to send things flying, especially monsters that are invulnerable to weapons; the HEALER mask that restores energy and, finally, the SPECTRUM, BACKLASH and BLASTER masks, powerful weapons that can destroy almost everything. So, learning when and where to use each mask is a challenging process of trial and error. When each level is completed, Matt decodes the password to the next. Typing the password at the main menu, unblocks teleport gates to the appropriate level and gives another desperate attempt to rescue Scott. This game plays much like Hewson's Exolon but includes the added bonus of more movement freedom. Once you memorize the attack patterns, the game gets a bit easier and you can advance further.
GRAPHICS / SOUND
As expected, the game's visuals are good and a great improvement over MASK II. The sprites are nicely animated, like when Matt turns his head as he bounces on the moon's bright surface. The scrolling is smooth, the collision detection is accurate and the controls are surprisingly fast. Every screen is full of excellently designed objects and characters, all blended in an atmospheric background of mountains, grounds and rivers that add a dimension of realism as, for example, the waving water! All these details contribute to a polished, sophisticated and extremely compelling action platform game with puzzle elements. The aural sector is similarly effective, offering a great title tune and a few above average spot effects during gameplay.
Amstrad CPC 464/664/6128
|CPU: ZiLOG Z80 4MHZ|
MEMORY: 64 KB or 128 KB of RAM depending on the model (capable of being expanded to 512k using memory extension boards)
GRAPHICS: Motorola 6845 address generator, Mode 0: 160x200 / 16 colors, Mode 1: 320x200 / 4 colors, Mode 2: 640x200 / 2 colors, A colour palette of 27 colors was supported
SOUND: The CPC used the General Instrument AY-3-8912 sound chip, providing 3 channels Mono Sound (via internal speaker) but capable to offer Stereo Sound provided through a 3.5 mm headphones jack (with pretty impressive outcome!). Also, it is possible to play back digital sound samples at a resolution of approximately 5bit. This technique is very processor-intensive though.
|RGB 27-colors palette (16 on screen)|
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