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Terra Cognita

Title: Terra Cognita
Publisher: Codemasters
Year: 1986
Language: English
Genre: Shoot’Em Up

Review By Baz

Here is an excellent little budget shooter by Codemasters and a game which is about every bit as fun to play and no less complete as its C64 counterpart.

Codemasters only released a few titles for the 264 series but this is arguably by far their best offering, that’s if you’re not too keen on BMX circuit simulation games that is.

The plot is as nonsense as always. Somewhere far into the future on planet Krion, 3 mining engineers stumbled upon some ancient robot head which one silly miner decided to kick thus bringing it back to life. It spoke, vowing some terrible vengeance on the very planet they were so happening to be standing on at the time. Erm….eh?

OK so the miners are now so terrified by this limbless head that they all quickly scoot off back to their craft on a sole purpose to reach their mothership and get as far away as possible with their tails between their legs. Right, so no heroics here then.

The planet surface area they need to navigate through is made up of 100 vertical scrolling screens. Apart from the usual obstructive barriers to avoid, you will invariably come across certain pickups which will either help or hinder your progress.

Firstly there are the fuel dumps which will top up your fuel to maximum, make sure you get these or you’re bound to lose a life. There are also 1up squares for extra lives and Bonus for extra points. Speedup and slowdown squares which are sure to alter the speed difficulty of your mission. From time to time you will also find squares which will make you indestructible to the enemy fighters for a short while.

The main square to avoid at all costs though are the brownish stripey ones. These are what are known as Timeshifts. Not only will it send you hurtling back towards the beginning of the game, but it will also reset your score back to zero and your lives reset to default, so basically a new game.

Not much of a title screen to wonder at, but the in-game Graphics are nice and when it zips along you are not left feeling motion sickness. The cunning map design is as big and identical to the C64 version and for this I’m wondering whether this game was first concieved on the C16 and later ported across for other systems.

The sound is plentiful, crisp and effective with a short but sweet cut-down excerpt of the Star Wars theme on the title screen. BTW the legendary David Whittaker more noted for the C64 is credited for the work here.

I have a few very minor reservations. It’s a little too easy to beat. The game also doesn’t loop over when you do finally manage to clock it. It would’ve been a nice and obvious improvement if it did loop over and possibly throwing in an extra enemy for the challenge each time, maybe to a certain max.

Also, there is an oddity with the title screen, that it is only set on a 15 second delay before the game automatically begins. This is regardless on whether you want to play a new game or not, and if not then you’ll just have to watch your ships crash until game over then back to the title screen for another 15 second title screen before you watch your men die again etc etc. Why they couldn’t have just kept it as the standard ‘Press Fire to begin’ option we may never know, although you do have that option.

Minor issues aside, this is an enjoyable game and although the map is a little on the short easy side, there is still oddly a nice element of difficulty to it which gives you that urge to have one more go. All in all it is quite good fun and a pretty challenging game, it is immediately grabbing but the easy difficulty level may well mean that you’ll only play this for short bursts at a time once in a while.

Presentation: 5
Joystick or keyboard control, Game oddly starts automatically after about 15 seconds on the bland looking title screen.
Graphics: 7

Nice clear well defined graphics and character sprites which scrolls down vertically as smooth as a hot toddie on a cold winters night.
Sound: 7

A very brief Star Wars title intro and the different in-game spot effects are rather nice.
Playability: 8

It doesn’t take a genius to work this one out, and it is immediately simple and interesting enough to just pick up and play.
Lasting Appeal: 7
You’ll be cursing yourself into having just one more go until you beat it, which won’t take forever to unless you’re not very good at games.One you’ll occasionally no doubt come back to regardless.
Overall: 7
If you ever see a sinister looking robot head lying around one day, don’t kick it. But If you ever miss a chance of playing this fine shooter, kick yourself.

Clocked by Sixteen Plus

Categorized as: Games | Reviews

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