First shown at the December ZX Microfair, Krakatoa grabbed the attention of most passers-by because its wealth of detail is amazing. There’s such a lot going on. And there’s a lot to do in the game, most of it neatly shown in the excellent demo, which runs automatically after loading and between games.

Your task as a chopper pilot is twofold. A tanker is sheltering in the bay from attacks by V1 missiles and submarines armed with torpedoes. Across the bay the dormant volcano (hence the title) has come to life and is threatening to erupt. You must try to rescue as many people from its threat as possible. Your helicopter is equipped with a machine gun, depth charges and a rope for rescuing people. The game starts with the chopper on the ground on the heli pad, beside the workman’s hut. When your fuel gets low and you return to the heli pad to refuel and re-arm, the workman dashes out and does it all in a very busy animated sequence. On taking off, you pass out over the bay and reach the massive tanker. Its crew start to leap overboard as soon as the enemy do them damage, and so pose another problem for you and your trusty rope!

Beyond the tanker is open sea, full of enemy, and the Volcanic Island with its hapless inhabitants. The screen shows all this in profile, scrolling as it goes, ‘Scramble’ style. To the left and right of the display area are ammo and fuel bars, and below are instruments including a radar display, and score.


‘This has to be one of the busiest games in a long while! There are such a lot of keys to use that it takes a lot of practice before you can even become slightly proficient. The graphics are really excellent, well drawn and animated, and there’s also a lot of detail in the game ideas too. If you accidentally drop a depth charge on the tanker there’s a very good explosion with chunks flying off, and a second later a crew man appears and takes a leap off the stern and begins swimming around. If you successfully pick him up on the end of the lowered rope, it is very tricky to get him into the chopper as he must be on the very end of the rope otherwise he gets knocked off as the rope is pulled aboard, and falls back into the sea! This is a complicated and demanding game, which I can’t see losing its appeal for a long time.’

‘Krakatoa is both addictive and hard to play. But I thought the keys were poorly laid out and there is no joystick option. This makes it even more difficult to play. And it’s a shame that there isn’t much in the way of instructions, because there are quite a few instruments which are not explained. But these are small niggles because the game itself is marvellous. Excellent graphics (fantastic explosion when you are hit), very colourful and with plenty of sound. Watch out for volcanic explosions!’

‘It’s only in some small details that Krakatoa is less good. Why, for instance, didn’t they print the 10 control keys on the cassette inlay? During the attract mode, the keys are listed for a very short time and there are too many to get written down that quickly, and too many to remember. The control keys are difficult to manage and laid out in a rather odd way. Once over these problems the game proves to be very good to play, with loads of detail, great graphics and sound and a lot of imagination. It should keep players going for a long time, if only because it takes ages to become any good, and the scope for getting better scores each time you play is enormous with so many people to rescue.’


Control keys: 5 = up, 3 = down, 7 = forward, bottom row = reverse, 9 = fire, zero = drop depth charge, W = rope down, R = rope up, ENTER = pause
Joystick: none
Keyboard play: undeniably a handful, but very responsive
Colour: very good
Graphics: excellent, very animated
Sound: excellent
Skill levels: 1 — it’s enough
Lives: 1 — it’s enough
General rating: very good — highly recommended

Use of computer70%
Getting started70%
Addictive qualities88%
Value for money90%