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Dark Side (1989)      

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Shoot 'em Up



3.5" Floppy disk

Commodore Amiga  NR

Same title from other publishers:
Amstrad CPC
Atari ST
Commodore 64
Sinclair ZX Spectrum

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Iss 12 Jun 1989
Amiga/ST Format
Added: 4 Dec 2011
Almost 200 years have passed since the vents that took place in incentiveís previous release, Driller. Now the Ketars live on the moon Tricuspid which orbits your home planet of Evath.
On Tricuspid there has been built a huge weapon called Zephyr One (Did you know that Incentive are based at a place called Zephy One?) with which the Ketars intend to destroy Evath.
A massive amount of energy is required to fire the weapon and this is collected by a network of interconnected solar panels called ECDs (energy collecting devices). All you have to do is destroy the network and save the world.
To help you in your mission you hagve a jet pack, a laser and a force shield. Unfortunately fuel and shields are in limited supply and you must find a way to replenish them during the game.

In Driller, the pace of the game was very sedate and you had lots of time to do things, but Darkside is much faster paced. Initially the ECD network is charging at 100% and if you are going to stand a chance at all at completing the game you need to disable as much of the network as possible in the first few minutes of play. Disabling an ESD is not easy however, because you can only disable one if it is at a terminus. ECDs connected to more than one other ECD regenerate almost instantly.

The Ketars have not left the place unguarded though, they want Evath to be in lots of little pieces and so tanks, satellites and forcefields litter the planet. Forcefields deplete your energy if you hit them and shots from tanks and satellites do the same. Running out of fuel can be equally fatal when you are flying, because once gravity grabs hold of you it just wonít let go until you hit the ground and go splat.

Apart from disabling the ECDs and avoiding or destroying the Ketar forces there are other problems that you will face: collecting telepod crystals, finding hidden doors and activating switches to get to other sections of the moon.

In some sections of the planet there are sensors which deposit you in prison and the only way to get out again is by paying a fine. Inside the jail there are two letterbox-like objects, one takes fuel and the other shields when you shoot the slit. After enough shots have been fired the door will open and you can leave.
Make sure you choose wisely because the only way out of the jail is by going through a trapdoor.
Gary Barrett

Amiga/ST Format, Issue 12, June 1989, p.p.88-89

The static graphics in Darkside are very similar to those in Driller; buildings made up of blocks of colour with extensive use of shading to help enhance the three-dimensional effect. There is more animation in Darkside though and more of the Ketar forces move around rather than just sitting there gathering pixels 9dust!). Sound is a vast improvement over Drillerís which was distinctly eight bit. There are not only some very very good sound effects, but also an atmospheric tune that goes on for ages before repeating.

Graphically, Freescape games have always suffered from a very boring block structure and there is no change here. However, challenging strategy elements certainly keep your mind off of problems in the effects department.
Darkside has the one thing that was lacking in Driller, some pressure to drive your forwards and make sure that you do not waste time. The problems are more logical in their solution and the fact that your opponents move around makes a more challenging and demanding game.

The team behind Driller and Darkside are Major Developments. The main emmebers of this infamous team are Ian (Dan Ayckroyd) Andrew, Chris (Freescape) Andrew, Sean Ellis, Wally (Hagar) Beben and Robin Chapman. All bracketed comments are found inside Darkside along with digitised pictures of some of the above. Ian does not want us to tell you how to find them though, you will have to do that for yourselves.
Ian came with the plot for the game and this brother Chris is responsible for designing the Freescape system. Sean Ellis programmed the 16-bit versions of Darkside and also wrote STAC, the ST adventure creator.
Hagar (we are not sure if that is Hagar the Horrible) composed the music, as he has done on countless other games and Robin Chapman is responsible for the graphics.
Next month will see the arrival of Total Eclipse and after that? Well you will just have to wait and see because the next game is not due for release until about this time next year.





Added: 19 Jun 2012


One of a series of games in Cinemaware's Spotlight line, DARK SIDE
combines the dynamism of an arcade game with the exploratory
features of an adventure. It showcases a system called "Freescape,"
a landscape design program that uses filled polygonal vector
graphics. You're going to see more of this design in the future,
because it permits the rapid updating of three-dimensional areas. In
DARK SIDE, you move into and out of the screen, as well as in the
eight cardinal directions of conventional action games. As a
result, for the first time outside the realm of flight or driving
simulation, you're playing in a truly three-dimensional gaming
world. (This review is based on the Amiga version; IBM-PC and Atari
ST version notes follow.)

You're a lone soul in a high-tech spacesuit who's been sent to
prevent the destruction of the planet Evath. The local criminal
element has set up Energy Collecting Devices (ECDs) in a network on
Evath's moon, Mitral. These ECDs collect solar power in a cell on
top, and then transmit that power through lines to the Zephyr One.
The Zephyr One, when fully energized, will destroy Evath in a simple
blast. Your job is to disable the ECD network so that Zephyr One
will never reach full charge.

Your spacesuit controls are sophisticated yet simple. They're
arranged in an area below your face mask, much the way a flight
simulator's controls would be. Using the mouse to move around, you
point and click on the onscreen control pad. You can also increase
and decrease the distance each step requires, and change the number
of degrees radius when turning right or left. There is a jet pack
that can be turned on and off. When on, you can fly at any altitude
within the game world; you can look up or down, tilt right or left,
and crouch. In all, you have tremendous yet precise control over the
variety of movements possible in the game; you really feel like
you're in that spacesuit, learning to mobilize it for the tasks at

Other control options include toggling between music and sound
effects, and loading, saving, or aborting a game. Situated around
the view window are: a compass; an attitude indicator (useful for
when you're looking up or down); a listing of X, Y, and altitude
coordinates; a step percentage and angle degree indicator; a message
window; a shield and fuel reserve meter; a power pack on-off
reminder; a window monitoring ECD efficiency (which starts out at
100 percent and subtracts one percent each time you destroy a solar
cell); and a vertical bar indicating the amount of charge collected
for the Zephyr One. Despite the seemingly overwhelming variety of
controls and indicators, the screen is simply and efficiently
designed; it takes only a short while to master the controls and
become familiar with the instruments.

It's what's outside the window that's really exciting, though! You
gaze through your faceplate into a surreal world of brilliantly
colored polygonal buildings, trees, tanks, ECDs, and other objects.

Some of these are fully animated: The tanks slide horizontally
across the screen, firing at you along the way. When you shoot at
the buildings' doors, they slide open, or entrances appear
elsewhere. The ECDs are sometimes surrounded by protection devices,
which can be manipulated with the proper techniques. Some trees take
off when you fire at them. Flying attackers dash at you from above,
inflicting heavy damage.

Other objects are there to be explored: You enter buildings to
refuel, to restore your shields, to find telepod crystals, or to
teleport rapidly from area to area. You crawl under platforms to
find special entryways into tunnels that link the different
regions. You avoid channels of water and platform edges, perch on
strange architectural structures, and discover sphinxes and energy
barriers (and other indescribably weird objects), most of which
perform some sort of function. For instance, if you find the hammer
on the wall in your first supply station, try taking a pot shot at
it and watch what happens...fun!

The main process of the game involves a combination of exploration
and careful use of firepower to manipulate things. You have 14
different sectors (not including the tunnels beneath them) to
explore, each of which is fundamentally different from the others.
You discover that some places are your supply depots, while others
are at the center of the ECD network. You shoot out the solar cells
wherever you find them; sometimes they regenerate, so you have to
figure out how to keep them from doing so. Some sectors contain
telepods, from where you can transport into otherwise inaccessible
areas (if you've collected the right objects).

At first, the game seems short and incomprehensible. Until you've
gained enough control and knowledge of the relationship between
sectors to reduce the ECD percentage flowing to Zephyr One, the game
ends all too soon: Ol' Zephyr's charged up and blasting before you
can say boo. After a while, though, with a little mapping, a little
better understanding of what's going on, and an increasing ability
to zap ECDs quickly and efficiently, you'll find yourself playing at
a more leisurely pace. That's when the game really becomes richly
satisfying. Because you've learned enough to take hold of your
primary task, you now have time to explore the more abstruse aspects
of certain sectors: You can marvel at (and revel in) the ease with
which you manipulate your suit; you'll have a chance to take the
offensive, instead of rushing breathlessly to the nearest refueling

The Amiga version of DARK SIDE is designed to run with 512K of
RAM, so there should be little in the way of hardware compatibility
problems. The game is controlled almost entirely with the mouse;
there are a few options that require the keyboard, but it's possible
to play successfully without using them.

DARK SIDE comes on one disk, and uses key-disk copy protection,
which means the disk can be copied, but the original must be
inserted in order to start the game.

It's a small point, but this version has a wonderful musical
soundtrack that you can turn on in place of the sound effects. The
musical composition lasts for about ten minutes, then starts over
again. It's both serene and evocative: It reminds me of some of the
more popular German electronic rock of the early '80s, except in
this case, there's a beautiful koto part played over the moody
electronic orchestration.

DARK SIDE is a successful introduction to the world of Freescape
design, and it's a great game, too. A lot of play is packed into a
little space. Although it may not seem as territorially extensive as
the more conventional adventure designs, or as filled with flying
targets as the more conventional action game designs, DARK SIDE does
a near-perfect job of balancing action and adventure elements. I'd
say it defines a whole new genre of game -- along with a few others


DARK SIDE is almost as much fun on the IBM as it is on the Amiga.
My only reservation concerns having to control the game either with
the keyboard entirely, or with the keyboard combined with a
joystick. I found it simpler just to stick to the keyboard;
otherwise, at some crucial moment, you find yourself having to let
go of the joystick to access a command -- at which point, something
invariably goes wrong (you fall, you stop moving and get shot at,

The keyboard interface is fine, but requires a little more effort
than the Amiga mouse-control interface to master. Flight simulator
aficionados should have no problem with this, though.

The IBM-PC version is very up-to-date in terms of hardware support
and copy protection. The game comes with both 3-1/2" and 5-1/4"
disks, neither of which is copy-protected. EGA, CGA, Hercules
Monochrome (256K), and Tandy 16-Color (384K) are all supported.

There is no sound board support, and the marvelous music soundtrack
is missing, but the sound effects themselves are just fine.

Scrolling is slow on the more primitive XT clones, but still quite
playable, even in monochrome Hercules mode. Naturally, with a fast
'386 machine and EGA graphics, the screen moves much more smoothly.
I didn't like the color schemes in this version quite as much;
comparatively speaking, they're a bit too gaudy for my tastes. But
the graphics are just as sharp and smooth here as they are on the
Amiga, and in all other respects, the two versions are identical.


DARK SIDE is essentially a sequel to SPACE STATION OBLIVION (from
Epyx). The Atari ST version can be considered identical to the Amiga
version, including the soundtrack.

DARK SIDE is controlled with the mouse (which worked best), the
keyboard (second best), or a joystick. The program disk is
copy-protected, and you'll need a blank, formatted disk for game
saves. The instruction manual explains gameplay and controls for all

Graphics on the ST look even better in DARK SIDE than they did in
OBLIVION; if they aren't really better, and it just seems so,
well...so what? The 3-D structures move smoothly and swiftly with no
flicker or breakup, and the game plays easily once you have your
wits (which DARK SIDE will misplace shortly after the game starts,
while you gape through the viewport at the fabulous scenery).

In SPACE STATION OBLIVION, your goal (which DARK SIDE assumes
you've reached) was to prevent the destruction of the Ketars' home
planet Evath, and its first moon, Mitral, to which the Ketarian
criminal element had been banished. According to the background
story in the DARK SIDE manual, it is now 200 years later, and the
criminals have taken refuge on Tricuspid, Evath's second moon.

What I mean to say is that you can play DARK SIDE without having
played OBLIVION. What I also mean to say is that you might want to
play OBLIVION, too. While DARK SIDE seems like an improvement (not
that OBLIVION needed any), both games are excellent, and the
Freescape graphics are marvelous.

DARK SIDE is published by Spotlight Software and distributed by

*****DOWNLOADED FROM P-80 SYSTEMS (304) 744-2253

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This title was first added on 2nd October 2006
This title was most recently updated on 19th June 2012

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