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UK Mike (miner2049er)

The Bi-Weekly British Backtrack – 1985: The Day After

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Another 2 weeks go by and another one of these things pops up in my Calendar Reminders, so without further ado, here it is, the next fascinating installment of The Bi-Weekly British Backtrack, and this time around we’re looking at a game that I spent hours and hours playing on back in the 80s. Not only was it one of the most addictive games I ever played, but it was also one of the cheapest games I ever bought.

I would often buy Commodore 64 games on the Mastertronic label, and those would be priced at either £1.99 or £2.99. Occasionally you would get a real stinker, a game called Sub Hunt springs to mind, but most of the time that was rare if you did your homework and read the packaging, and looked at which version the screenshots were from.

If it was a Commodore 64 game and all the screenshots were from the NES version then the chances are the Commodore 64 port was awful. Usually though, the games were good for their price and I found many gems that I still play today. This game is one of them.

The premise and the gameplay are very simple but the game is very addictive and for me, it has that one more turn appeal that keeps you coming back. The game is called 1985: The Day After.

The back story is that the world is on the brink of disaster but there's something that can be done and you're the person to do it. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to fly a small space ship to four planets, and find the nuclear plasma that's needed to save the world.

Essentially this is a side scrolling game with similar controls to Lunar Lander or Thrust and you only have four controls, rotate left, rotate right, thrust and tractor beam. You start off on your base and once the launch pad releases your ship you have to navigate your way out of the tunnel and out into orbit before heading to a planet.

To do that you obviously rotate your ship right and give a little thrust and you'll start to move right, if you're going too fast then rotate left and give a little thrust to reduce your speed to the right. Standard Lunar Lander type controls, and similar to that game your ship has momentum as well so if you stop thrusting your ship will gradually slow down as oppose to just stopping dead.

Each planet is a different colour so you'll know which ones you've already been to, if any. Once you get to the planet by flying into it, you fly left or right and look for the pods that you have to capture, and like Defender or Dropzone the scenery loops so you can go either way and you'll cover all the planet's surface eventually.

The planets all have tunnels and caves that you have to navigate in order to pick up the nuclear pods and you mustn't touch the ground, the roof or the walls of any of these structures or you'll lose your ship.

If that wasn't tough enough then throw in gravity which will affect your ship and ground defenses that will shoot at you.

As with all games like this your ship has a limited fuel supply that gets consumed as you use your thrusterş and on the earlier levels that isn't too much of a problem but on the later levels where it gets consumed more quickly and you have more enemies to worry about then you fuel level could affect your game, and if you do run out of fuel you will lose one of your three lives.

To pick up one of the pods you have to hover your ship over it so you get your ship in line vertically above it and then let gravity take over and bring your ship down towards the pod.

Once you are close enough, and you do have to be pretty close, you can deploy your tractor beam with the fire button and you’ll pick the pod up.

This isn’t so much like thrust though where the pod is attached to your ship and affects how the ship flies, it disappears, presumably inside your ship and you can go and collect the next one.

Once you've cleared the four planets of nuclear pods you enter a final cave section that is a bit more claustrophobic, and you have to navigate your way from one end to the other to collect the final, larger, pod before making your way back again and ending the level.

Level two throws a real curve ball at you because although it is the same planets and final cave again, this time you are fighting against negative gravity, so instead of your ship being pulled downwards it will be pulled upwards, and it takes a little getting used to.

Once that's done it is back to normal for the rest of the 8 levels.

This game, like I said, was £1.99 so don't expect huge and differing levels because they're not there. It is the same levels repeated, and while some people mark it down for that, at the price point and for a quick pick up and play game it is hard to beat. In my opinion it definitely has that just one more turn appeal, and I'm still playing it today. I think you can safely say I've had my money's worth out of it, and I would say it is definitely one of Mastertronic's better games.

So, 1985 wasn't all about Live Aid, the launch of the Amiga and Mikhael Gorbachov, it was also responsible for a great little pick up and play Lunar Lander clone, so crimp your hair, paint a white stripe across your nose and shout “Stand And Deliver!”, then pull on your best legwarmers and load up 1985: The Day After.

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