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[Icon]Moonquake II: Marsquake is an excellent Bomberman clone written by Paul Taylor. This sequel to Moonquake (as the title suggests) has been completely rewritten and now features everything the original had and a whole lot more. Originally distributed on an Acorn User coverdisc in September 1997 the game is now freely distributable, with the three month distribution restriction having now expired.

[Screenshot 1]
Playing with pipes

As in the original, the general idea is to use an infinite supply of bombs to clear the passages of a Marsbase whilst avoiding various hazards, and to make use of any special abilities you might find lying under piles of rubble. These specialities include the ability to throw bombs over obstacles (and even from one side of the screen to the other), push bombs along the floor, flour bombs, to rebound bombs off walls, mega-bombs (maximum explosive range) as well as the classic extra bombs and extended explosions power-ups. Mystery objects can also be picked up which can do various things to you including giving your backpack a rather nasty - and potentially explosive - fuel leak. When you get a fuel leak everywhere you walk the flammable fuel from your pack leaks behind you. Woe betide you should a flame accidentally touch it! A nice touch is that rather than bonuses being destroyed when by explosions they instead are blown out of the way and can be picked up later.

The landscape of the levels changes as you progress - the background and indestructible blocks change from level to level, but more importantly you find new features scattered around the level, such as conveyor belts and pipes. When you drop a bomb on a conveyor belt it whizzes off in the direction of the conveyor belt ready to hit anything that gets in its way. Another superb feature is the pipelines that are present on some levels - if you put a bomb near the opening then when it explodes the flames travel through the pipe, appearing simultaneously at all other exits to the pipework.

[Screenshot 1]
You didn't want to do that...

The game is okay in one player mode, although it can become a bit boring, and the initial levels are very tedious, but just like its predecessor its real interest lies in multiplayer head-to-head battles that you can now play with up to four players at once (the original only allowed two players)! The game then becomes truly wonderful. Frantic screams soon ensue when a group of you run, throw, dodge and lay bombs, desperately trying to stay out of the others' way, and the tension often builds to a point where you scream blue murder when you pick up a fuel leak. Not a game to calm down or relax with, then, but truly a joy to play.

Since the Acorn user v1.00 of Marsquake was released Paul has continued development of the game, and a shareware version, Marsquake Boom:Deluxe v1.10 has now been released. It features a WIMP level editor, computer controlled players in multiplayer games and a serial link option so you can play over two separate computers.

Having played Bomberman 94 on the PC Engine (under emulation) I'd have to say that the one-player mode is pretty poor in comparison. The graphics are nowhere near as good, and the gameplay isn't there to stand up for it. I'd like to see improved graphics and scenery (even if it doesn't have any gameplay function) and more features such as secret doors around the level, creatures to ride on, varying speeds of movement and such like - things that can be seen in other games of this type. That said, the multiplayer mode is excellent, and you won't find a more playable multiplayer game!

Review by:
David Sharp, 20/5/98

Marsquake v1.10 (626Kb Spark file)
Marsquake Homepage

...this page last updated: 23/8/98...
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