Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
FACTORY PANIC • SEGA • £24.99 • OUT NOW
If ever there was a topical game then this is it - although it almost wasn’t. The main character is called Gorby, and looks not too dissimilar to a major foreign leader. Just imagine what a cock-up it would have seemed if Gorbachev had remained “ill” and the USSR had hidden behind their iron curtain again.
Just like in real life, Gorby’s main problem is getting the right food to the people who need it. In fact, the whole coup attempt was reportedly about this very point. But you can keep the USSR united and save Gorby’s butt by distributing the food to the people.
All the food must travel down pipelines across the country, although often people get food they don’t want and subsequently it goes to waste. Gorby is the only man who has the power to intercept the food and send it in the right direction. But dark forces are at work, trying to undermine Gorby’s power, so these must also be dealt with, too. All in a day’s work for a Soviet leader.
As soon as you see Gorby running his little legs off on the amazingly fast scrolling intro sequence, you just know this game has had that bit more time spent on it than other simple conversions on the Game Gear.
It’s heartening to see a Game Gear product that has copious amounts of the big three: graphics, sound and playability. In fact, the combination of frenetic action, wonderful graphics and buzzing sound make Factory Panic a real joy to play.
Firstly, your ears are hit with the numerous cheerful anthems and spot effects. These are great, mixing traditional themes in with other snippets from, say, the Lone Ranger.
The highly-polished presentation continues into the game graphics. The height of detail is shown on the main character, Gorby, who even has a red splat on his head. Also, all the other sprites look just as if they’ve come straight out of Doctor Zhivago, with their boring clothes, big beards and funny woolly hats. The characters’ movement is fast and reminiscent of TV cartoons as they urgently shuffle about the place.
At the end of each stage, you are given one of the many congratulatory sequences to boost your flagging moral. The words “Good Job” come on screen, and you receive a large thumbs up. After your bonus is calculated, the crowd cheer and a young lady presents you with a bouquet of flowers. Totally unnecessary, but much appreciated.
With five continues, I managed to get well into the second round. Here the game gets really tough, as you try to juggle many different types of food. However, even when it was game over, I never came away with a feeling of being cheated, as you do with some games. Every game is totally challenging, but never frustrating.
Factory Panic is a beautifully presented arcade style runaround. It excels in all areas, with very attractive, colourful graphics, hugely addictive gameplay and a whole host of varying challenges to improve on the basic formula. Good luck, Gorby!
Wait by a switch and shoot the guard as he comes for you. Keep shooting to immobilise him and then hold open the switch. When the food s passed through, run on to see the object through to its destination, bashing Chomper if he’s around.
On later levels, it’s difficult to remember which person wants what food. If you press pause, you’ll recap the opening screen which displays your objectives. You can do this as often as you like.
Round two. The aim of the game is to swap the conveyors around and direct the supplies to your awaiting friends. Before embarking on your mission, make sure you know who wants what. Be warned, this level contains the meanest and fastest guards.
Factory Panic is available in Japan under the title Good Luck, Gorby. You can get the Japanese version from Dream Machines, PO Box 34, Hartlepool, Cleveland TS27 3YX. Tel: (0429) 231703. This version has Japanese instructions and is available for just £19.95 - £5 less than the UK version! Meanwhile, our continental chums in France can pick up the game under the guise of Adventure of Gerubi. There's also rumour of a Russian version which goes by the name Good Luck, Yeltsin - but we can't confirm that, comrade!
Throwing the switch brings the factory to life - and all hell lets loose. The display above reveals who needs what and in what sorts of quantity.
The first and easiest level poses no real difficulty for any self-respecting Russian leader. The guy with the stick will cause you extreme hassle, so stun him if you can. Unfortunately there's no way of getting rid of him permanently.
The Japanese can't pronounce the letter R...
Hence they call the Russian leader Golby rather than Gorby.