Strike while the Iron (Helix) is HOT
Author: Kevin M. Savetz
Date: November, 1993
Keywords: Spectrum Holobyte software game review program CD-ROM CDROM Helix
Text: Iron Helix is my first CD-ROM game. Although I found a ''good deal'' on a CD-ROM drive, it didn't come bundled with any software. Luckily, I received the drive the day after a SMUG meeting, so I had something to pop in to test out my new toy. Iron Helix went in, and I was not disappointed.
Your goal in Iron Helix is a lofty one: save the world. Well, not this one, but a peaceful, earth-like planet named Calliope. A fleet of space war ships is about to perform target practice by destroying an uninhabited planet. Inexplicably, one of the ships breaks off and heads straight for Calliope. Naturally, you are the only one with the ability to intervene. Using a robotic probe, you must wander the halls of the renegade spaceship looking for clues to stop its progress. The plot of Iron Helix includes a couple of nice twists, including an evil ''defender'' robot intent on smooshing your robot probe, and an unknown virus that caused the death of the entire crew of the wayward ship. The graphics and sound are first rate. QuickTime movies and digitized sound effects combine to create a fine game with a cinematic feel. The QuickTime windows are relatively small, but this provides for smooth-scrolling animation that doesn't detract from the experience of the game as a whole. (The CD contains a whopping 513 megabytes of graphics, sounds, QuickTime and program code!) The user interface is simple although system response time can be agonizingly slow. Of course, this depends on the speed of your computer and CD-ROM drive. I find the controls annoyingly pokey as I try to scramble away as the defender robot bears down on me. Eep! As with many high-quality CD-ROM games, Iron Helix demands a spiffy computer to play it on. It requires a Mac LC, Color Classic, II series, Performa, Centris or Quadra model with at least 4 megs of RAM (5 is recommended,) 256-color capability, 6.5 megabytes of free hard disk space and a CD-ROM drive. Helix works with all CD-ROM drives with the exception of the NEC CDR-25 drive will not work with Iron Helix. (The way this particular CD-ROM drive buffers and caches data is incompatible with Macromind Player, the software used to run Iron Helix. No fix is planned.) The program is easy to install. The installer comes in two flavors - regular and ''minimal'' for systems with less memory (4 megs) or less computing power. The 30-page manual is nicely done, combining game instructions, hints, and material that, although not essential, adds to the ''feel'' of the game. Although the beginning of the manual states ''Play now - read later,'' you may have to read the manual sooner than later to understand how to control the game as you maneuver the probe through the halls of a dark and sinister spaceship. Iron Helix has five difficulty levels, which vary the speed and intelligence of your nemesis, the Defender robot. If you're like me, you won't need (or want!) to explore beyond level one. That's tough enough, thank you. Spectrum Holobyte 2490 Mariner Square Loop Alameda, CA 95401 510-522-1164. To order: 800-695-GAME
Copyright © november, 1993 by Kevin M. Savetz