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REVIEW: R3 (Registered) by Bruce Webster
By: Jason Compton
Thrust! Thrust! Thrust!
I got Thrust as part of a two-game el-cheapo Firebird disk years ago on the
64. Sadly, the Thrust disk has been corrupted.
But Bruce Webster has captured the fun of that game and mixed it with his
own rather bizarre sense of humor to create the eminently playable R3.
For those of you unfamiliar with the genre, R3 puts you at the controls of
a spaceship. In R3, your goal is to fly your spaceship across a large
virtual world to retrieve cargo for the aptly named Nice People of the
Universe or something like that. The bad guys, who have an unpronouncable
name, have stolen it. Standard plot.
At your disposal to start is 1000 credits, which you can use to buy one of
the 3 Class 1 vessels. (Classes 2-5 are out of your price range at the
start.) Luckily for you, the introductory levels are easy, because these
vessels, with quite graphic names, aren't much to rely on for defense,
offense, or maneuverability. You get paid for blowing up bad guy
installations such as guns that shoot at you, as well as retrieving the
Each ship has a fuel tank, a cargo carrying capacity, a certain amount of
shields, a missile launcher with a certain number of ordinance, and a gun
or three. The Schmu, the top of the line vessel, has an extremely powerful
engine, a small turning radius, two high-power fast-repeat guns, and more
missiles than you can count. The Fart, the bottom of the line vessel, has
a tough time getting off the landing pad, makes horrible noises (I'm not
making this up), and you're likely to run into whatever you're trying to
kill before its gun is in range.
One or two players can work to rescue cargo through the game's many levels,
or they can face off in a Dogfight game with levels designed specifically
for the purpose. In Dogfight, each player gets an initial generous outlay
of cash and is sent off to fend for themselves. The goal is to kill the
other guy, or alternately to let him kill himself. Big money can be had
here just racking up destroyed enemy installations.
The game has a split-screen, where the left hand side (in 1-player mode)
shows the outside view of the ship and its surroundings (the game playfield
is 2 dimensional, you can move up, down, left, right, but not "in") with
the right side as the Missile-Cam, which tracks your missiles. This isn't
horribly useful in most cases, but if you want to know if enemies lurk
around a corner or down a passageway, firing a missile through isn't a bad
idea. The camera stays locked at the missile's detonation or impact point
until another is fired. In 2-player mode, each gets a side of the screen,
with no missile cams. Under each display is a diagram of your ship showing
damage incurred when shields drop to zero. When this happens, you'll want
to immediately find a red cross station which will repair some or all of
your damage and shield loss. Ironically, your home base will only refuel
you and repair your system damage but will not recharge your shields.
Military cutbacks, I guess.
Although the author is from New Zealand, for some reason he smiled upon
North America and wrote the game in NTSC. It runs best in 1 meg or more of
RAM (1 meg CHIP highly recommended) but will work in a 512k 1.3 machine,
with lousy sound effects. You really ought to have a better machine than
The graphics are ECS, but still attractive. Flying through water is fun.
Flying in zero gravity is even better.
Despite its silliness, R3 is really a great game. It is not without flaws,
the most obvious being that you can get yourself stuck in a wall (which is
often rectifiable but occasionally not), and the fact that sometimes
certain explosions will leave "shadow" explosions behind somewhere else.
These don't get in your way, but look ugly.
What do you get for registering? For your US$15 or equivalent, you get the
ability to play all of the included levels in the shareware package, as
well as all of the levels in the recently released add-on pack. That gives
you hundreds, all told, between 1 and 2 player and dogfight levels.
You also get a very clever and relatively easy to use level editor.
Nearly infinite enjoyment if you have the time.
You also get Tritus from Davin Pearson, a 3-player competitive Tetris clone
that has to be seen to be believed. At one point, I found myself much more
drawn to Tritus than to R3--and I like R3. You can play against the
computer or 1 or two human opponents. Certain diabolical weaponry comes
into play, such as the slimy creature that eats your lower bricks, a huge
nasty thing that shakes the screen and gives your opponents lines of junk
to deal with, and a way to disable the walls between you and your opponents
and drop YOUR pieces on THEIR stack in nasty ways to screw them up. If
there was a way to make Tetris a combat sport, this is it.
Two games, a low price, and two registration locations. It's a pretty good
To register, send your (real) name and address and the registration fee
TO: Ellen Johnstone (pounds preferred)
11 Abbey Rd
Bruce Webster (NZ$ preferred)
29 Tika St
New Zealand 8004