Product: Shipwrecked 2: Jupiter III
Publisher: EUG PD
Compatibility: Acorn Electron
Reviewed by: Dave E
Originally published in EUG #50

The final game to come from Dominic Ford is his sequel to arcade adventure Shipwrecked - Jupiter 3. This time you're not shipwrecked on an island but marooned in space on board an ill-fated spacecraft. It's many years into the future - a lot more than the original even! - yet neither you nor the beastly alien critters that have stuck their flag into Stanley Kubrick's realisation seem to have changed their appearance at all.

More of the same as Shipwrecked, you wonder. For professionality, one thing's for sure: it can't be faulted. The disk version displays one of the most impressive Mode 2 graphical demonstrations you've seen for a long time, with a vortex of swirling pixel-stars nicely framed behind a huge multi-coloured title. In the space below you find a menu of four options. Although the first game had a loading screen of a reasonable quality, this one is purely unbeatable! And Dominic Ford manages to squeeze the whole game even into systems with PAGE at 1D00. Note that, for loading time reasons though, the Mode 2 screen is missing from the tape version.

Selecting option 1 loads in the game proper. Like with the first Shipwrecked, you are now treated to a backdrop of a location on board Jupiter 3 with the message 'Press SPACE To Start'. Yet the width and breadth of the playing area now fills the whole screen and waiting for a slideshow of the playing locations is in vain.

This is because, whereas the first jaunt was a Citadel-compariable room-to-room release, this whole element has been dispensed with now that Dominic Ford is really showing off. He is now pitting you in an Exilesque scenario - where the screen cleverly scrolls around to keep your character in the centre of it!

Note hastily at once this isn't another Exile however. What it is, in terms of gameplay, is the more of the same as you'd imagine when comparing it with the prequel. That is, a graphic adventure where you need to collect and use objects from and in various places and carry certain coloured passes to get through those coloured doors. There's a brilliant use of all of the BBC/Electron's colours and the scrolling keeps pace with the action reasonably well, although it's a bit jerky on an Elk with MRB and it's best to play without it (even though the speed is so evidently reduced!).

There are added touches to the craft, such as zero-gravity sections - and a fatal oil hazard in one area - and these are interesting, even if only at first. You may soon have reservations about Zero-G. It's a real nightmare to navigate without finding your man flying around the screen in the same patterns time after time!

You have been equipped with a marginally more crappy gun than you had in Shipwrecked and shooting the aliens basically has the effect that you lose lots of power getting close enough to them and as soon as they are scrolled back onto the screen after a short voyage to another part of the 'map' they mysteriously reincarnate. All these 'features' quickly become irritating, due in most part to the game being so frustratingly difficult. It really is one of the toughest pieces of software you've ever played...

The situation isn't helped by instructions which concentrate in large measure on the irrelevant. These can be accessed by selecting the second option from the disc version menu. (Printed instructions accompany the tape version!) The Game Objective section simply states words to the effect of 'Return Jupiter III to its orbit around Mars'. Great! How?

Completing the game, via the in-built option 3 immortality cheat (The only way to proceed unless you are a glutton for punishment!) will yield a four digit code that can be entered by selecting option 4. Doing so receives congrats and information about Dominic Ford's plans for the final Shipwrecked game - which never made it into production.

All things considered, it's very different to its predecessor, but not necessarily better. It has many more features but a surprisingly large number of irksome qualities which weren't quite so irritating in the first adventure. And although it uses the same game sprites and has the same general 'thread' of an arcade adventure, it straddles the genre with a little unease; the Zero-G and scroll-based parts may look visually impressive (despite an occasional quick flash of sprites in the bottom left corner during a scroll) but are rather alien to these puzzle-based types of game where establishing a method pays dividends!

In Jupiter 3, there is no simple way. You need a high degree of arcade skill and key manipulation, the ability to think logically, a comprehensive map of the craft by your side, a good memory, the cheat mode on and a dollop of patience smothering it all. Any missing element guarantees your failure in whatever it is you're supposed to be doing. Balanced against this are a full screen playing area, 100% machine code scrolling and displaying, full use of colour, a huge map to explore and document, impressive screens and a large number of differing puzzles to solve. Minimal sound is also utilitised when you fire a gun check your power, jump or die.

As with the first game, much time and effort has gone into this one and it's apparent. Whether or not you like it, or choose to compare it with Shipwrecked, two things are for sure: The object of the game is not to collect fishes this time. And it's a lot better than those games our Superior didn't have a hand in!