#12. December 1986. Pages 52-53.
What d'you get if you cross Jet Set Willy with Daley Thompson' s Decathlon? You get what? Leave this page at once, that's positively disgusting! Of course, you get Phantomas, one of the first releases from a new software house called Codemasters. And for an opener that won't rock your pocket, it's not at all bad.
Yes, its JSW only the sprites are a bit bigger. Plenty of nasties going up and down, plenty more going from right to left and plenty of platforms so that you can avoid them. Only one life though, but you can replenish your energy by picking up the little coloured squares that are scattered around the screens. And there are plenty of screens.
You play the thief, Phantomas, out to 'alf-inch the jewels hidden on the planet. But first you have to get hold of the strongbox they're kept in by switching 36 separate levers. So, it's jump, dodge, switch on, swan out. Like all good platform games, it comes down to timing - in this case, have I got time for just one more go?
But why? There's nothing really remarkable about the game. On a scale of one to ten it scores minus four for originality. Even some of the sprites are stolen straight from JSW. But it's fun with a capital Ph. And it's full of good things. Like the music. One of those tunes that you end up humming weeks later. Like Phantomas, a real nobody of a computer character. No body, just a head on a pair of feet. Like the variety of screens. Each one holds the promise of a surprise. And yes, like Daley Thompson. On one of the screens you're whisked away in a helicopter and deposited on a planet surface with yet another switch. Throw it and you're told that to run you need the keys V and B. Now run. If you don't you're squashed flat by a large rolling boulder. No body, no head, no game.
This is one of the best arguments I've seen for still comparing budget games with the full-price stuff. There's a couple of days solid playing here at a quarter of the price. Sure, if you're heartily sick of Willy clones, steer clear. Otherwise, give it a spin. It doesn't rate a megagame; not nearly original enough. And it has a few annoying faults that would've been ironed out of a full-price game (I hope).
But I'll play Phantomas again. Phor the sheer phun of it!
VALUE FOR MONEY: 9
#35. December 1986. Pages 34-35.
Phantomas' task in this game is to hunt out a millionaire's mansion and plunder to his heart's content. But before he can indulge in this financial fantasy he must face many dangers and, solve the odd riddle or two.
All these weird and wonderful creatures must be avoided because they sap Phantomas' essential life energy. And as he only gets one life you must ensure that this energy doesn't go down to zero or the game will be prematurely ended. Phantomas's life force is indicated by a coloured bar at the bottom of the main screen.
There are 36 levers on the planet Earth-Gamma. Each of these levers must be triggered. These levers are scattered throughout the labyrinth and Phantomas must switch them by jumping into them. Most of the levers are p protected by the moving nasties. Some of the other levers however, take some hunting for. Rides in helicopters and space rockets are just some of the ways Phantomas can be transported to these remote areas. Some of these locations are rigged with traps, like the huge rampaging boulder he meets after the helicopter ride. When Phantomas triggers this switch it releases a huge boulder which will crush the poor pilferer unless you're quick on those running keys and can get him successfully out of the screen. Once all 36 levers have been switched an alarm bell will sound Phantomas will get a big strong box (presumably to carry his treasures in) and secret doors will open.
'Phantoms, is lots of fun to play and quite addictive for a short while. It is very well presented and includes lots of well designed features; such as the tune at the beginning and all the little animated objects like the coat hangers and radar towers. Phantomas is very colourful and contains loads of little but detailed characters - the clouds are very good. Even though Phantomas is another in the massive group of arcade/adventures I found it a great little game.'
'Another Aardvark from CODEMASTERS and his time it's a goo one (horay!). Controlling your bloke can be a little confusing at first as there are two types of jump which are virtually identical. The graphics are small and undetailed but they are adequate. The sound on the other hand is very good, there is a lovely tune on the title screen and many admirable effects during the game. This isn't at all a bad given the price; recommended.'
'Help! Not another platform game! I seem to have done almost nothing this month except review this sort of thing. And it's getting to me. Phantomas isn't the worst of the lot though. The graphics are quite good, if very similar to its predecessors, and I enjoyed playing it to an extent. Platform games have never really appealed to me, but I think that Phantomas is a reasonable version on a far too old theme.'
Control keys: definable
Joystick: Kempston. Interface II, Cursor
Keyboard play: Probably easier
Use of colour: rather jolly
Graphics: rather flicker in places
Sound: A really good un-Spectrumy tune at the beginning. Basic sound effects throughout
Skill levels: one
Screens: 80 separate rooms
General Rating: Indifferent little aardvark.
Use of Computer 66%
Getting Started 64%
Addictive Qualities 62%
Value for Money 70%