Chronos (Mastertronic), 1987

Or, to give its full title, ‘Chronos – A Tapestry of Time’.

Firstly, I’d like to get a little something off my chest. I never actually paid for this game – a friend who’d gotten a Spectrum +2A with an order of magnitude more games than I got with my grey +2 lent me a couple of tapes. This was one of the games that was swiftly copied onto C90.

If Steven or John Tatlock are reading this today, I’m very sorry and I’ll gladly buy you a coffee 🙂

Upon loading the game, it’s hard not to be blown away by the title music, which is all about Tim Follin making the beeper do things it frankly has no right to do. It’s a wonderful assault on the eardrums and one could sit happily listening to this tune over and over again.

The menu screen is colourful and makes nice use of proportional fonts, and borrowing from the Design Design playbook several humourous high score tables are included, with a different one chosen at random each time you load the game.

Pick a control method, and start the game and you’re immediately cast into what turns out to be a Scramble clone. Your ship is a little bit featureless but the rest of the graphics are nicely drawn.

Armed with just a single shot laser and 3 initial lives, navigating the hordes of enemies is relatively easy at first but on later levels the game really chucks challenges at you, like rotating cubes that hide behind scenery only to fling themselves at you suddently, or yin/yang symbols that hang in the air only to change direction towards you at the last moment.

Luckily you get an extra life every 10,000 points as you will inevitably find yourself in a no-win situation. There are power-ups of sorts too, however these are limited to extra lives and points bonuses, no shields or upgraded weaponary are on offer.

There are five levels in total, each more difficult than the last, and you’ll see messages from the authors interspersed with the landscape.

You’ll really need to be on point to get through the fifth and final level where you encounter the final boss, which looks like a flying diamond. It doesn’t actually shoot back, but moves around the restricted screen area quite quickly, and you’ll need to land a lot of hits to defeat it.

Once you do this, Chronos himself appears and warns you about causing a crack in time which you must fill, a nice pretext to sending you back to the start to do it all over again.

There’s not a massive amount of variety in this game, but remember that this was a budget title. For £1.99 you could have done a lot worse.

I give it a solid 7/10.

Jing it Baby!

– Brendan Alford