Saturday, 15 December 2012

Specvent Calendar Day 14 - Deus Ex Machina

Deus Ex Machina (Automata, 1984)

Not so much a game, more of an experience - the only Spectrum game with a full album-length soundtrack and also the only Spectrum game I ever purchased mail order (after persuading my mum to go over the road to the phone box to ask them who to make the cheque to, as the advert didn't say.) Just as the Llamasoft games could only have been thought up by Jeff Minter, so this had Mel Croucher's mindprint all over it. You guide the progress of the offspring of a computer overmind and a mouse dropping (told you...) conceived, as the lyrics have it, "not in a test tube but in a piny mug." Various minigames are synched to the soundtrack, most of which have you protecting your charge from malkign influences, and as a new track begins so does a new game - as long as the speed is in synch of course!

By themselves the games would hold little appeal, but when matched to the music it can get strangely hypnotic - putting this on to try it out tonight I was playing for almost 20 minutes before I could pause it to write this review. I can't stress enough that the soundtrack is stonkingly good, especially the second half on side one for me, and well worth listening to solus: Ian Dury, Frankie Howard, Jon Pertwee and Donna Bailey form the main voice cast, with a rather wonderful polemic from historian  E.P. Thompson thrown in on Side 2. Shame they misspelled Jon's name on the credits though...

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