Red Mars

Title		Red Mars
Game Type	Management Sim
Players		1-3
Company		Elbox Computer (1999)
Compatibility	All (1mb Chip 1mb fast CD)
Submission	Joe Malloy

Red Mars is a turn-based strategy game with all the popular components to
keep you hooked: Resource management, Research, Design, and what strategy
game would be complete without a Combat phase. There's 30 missions to play
along with 'free play' where you can set up games for up to 4 players
either computer or human.

Basically the game revolves around building mines to extract 8 different
types of ore.  You then have the choice of sending this ore to a Power
Plant to make money for making buildings and researching new robot parts,
or to a Factory as resource for  building more robots.

In order to win the game you need to manage your resources wisely, if you
don't have enough money then you cannot build, repair or upgrade robot
parts. If you don't manufacture enough robots you will be overrun in no
time by the waves of marauding nasties.

Each time you start a mission the enitre map is blacked out and you are
given an assortment of Robot Units, of which there are only four different
types, Technicians, Miners, Warriors and Pioneers. Movement is comparable
to Civilization with regard to what you can and cannot see.

Each Robot Unit can have a maximum of 9 Bot's, although some of the units
that you start the game with may only have eight. Technicians are used for
manufacturing both buildings and robots, they have different skills in
manufacture which effects how long the job takes. Miners strangely enough,
are only good for mining. Warriors are used for punishing your opponents
and defending buildings. Yes, that's 'opponents' and you can play against
a maximum of three, so you're never short of something to obliterate. The
only other unit that is different from the robots is the Pioneer, early in
the game this unit can move the fastest, build the fastest and prospect
the best.

Things start getting tricky right from the off, before you can build a
mine you must first do a bit of prospecting, "there's ore in them thar
hills" but what type???. Prospecting is carried out by Miner bot's and the
pioneer unit. Pioneers are good at this and can survey with a range of 3
squares in every direction. Miners, however, can only survey as good as
their field of vision, this is dependant on which type of 'head' they use
and until you research a decent head you're limited to 2 squares. You can
build the most basic type of unit with just 2 types of ore, but, before
long, you will need to mine all the types of ore, especially if you want
to fit your warriors with that new Incinerator arm you've just invented.

Once you've built a couple of mines you will need to build a Power Plant,
Factory and Laboratory. These buildings come in three sizes and it's a
case of, the bigger the better. Each type of ore has an equivalent value;
Uranitite is the most valuable and rarest so sending this to the Power
Plant will reap you lots of cash. The Laboratory is essential in winning
the game, the more cash you pump into them then the quicker your
technology will advance. On the Lab options screen you can specify how the
research funds will be distributed between Heads, Torsos, Legs, Mining
Arms, Technicians Arms, and Warrior Arms.  As you can imagine the more
upgrades you research then the better your units can manufacture, mine and
fight. I'm not even going to  attempt to work out how many different
configurations of each of type of robot you  can have, trust me, don't go

Other buildings include Repair Centre's these are useful for repairing
damaged units, however, if you loose a robot (or three) from a unit, you
cannot replace them.

The maps are really huge so its best to try and keep your buildings
localised,  this will help when trying to fend off those nasty Robots. You
can always build teleporters if you do find a patch of ore you must have -
very handy indeed, considering how slow Robots move to start with.

Combat is where the game play changes, you cannot control your robots
during battle but you can give them starting formations, set their
preferred weapon arm (i.e. laser on Left arm, anti-matter on Right arm)
and set firing distance. The effect of shooting depends on the power of a
weapon, resistance of the torso to that weapon and the distance to the
target. When battle commences you are presented with a kind of isometric
'slice' of terrain with these tiny robots running about blasting shots
off, all you can do at this point is watch (and cheer if the mood takes
you) and see if you've got your tactics right or not.

 Ok what's missing then??
Only Warrior units can attack. Shame - some miner bots look very scary.
The combat sequence's landscape is repetitive and always flat. After each
mission your researchers forget everything so it's back to square 1 - Not
too bad though. You can't fit your latest designs onto old units. Each
robot squad has 9 men, if you lose a few in combat you cannot replace
them. Graphically it won't blow your socks off but who cares right?

 What I liked.
Designing robots is good fun (once you've got a few upgrade under your
belt!) The mission 'difficulty' setting seems to be just right. The game
play is so absorbing that the hours fly by. Overall, I like it and would
certainly recommend it to any one into strategy games. Don't be fooled by
the low spec requirements, some of the best strategy games appeared on the
ZX Spectrum years ago and are still playable now. Once you get into it you
can't turn the damn thing off.

Category list.

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