1982. Michael Jackson’s Thriller album sells 20 million copies. Ozzy Osbourne bites the head off a live bat during a performance. Liposuction is introduced. And coin-operated arcade game revolutionary, Williams Electronics Inc. release a dual-joystick, adrenaline-pumping futuristic “save the humans from our own evil creations” arcade game called, Robotron.
Robotron quickly spread across the country and almost instantly became one of the great arcade classics of all time. The game featured a mutant human who could shoot lasers out of his body in eight different directions. Controlling the mutant, players would have to clear a field of obstacles overrun by a huge number of robots chasing after blue-suit or pink dress-wearing businessmen and women. The quick pace of the game and the sheer number of adversaries made Robotron a heart-stomping frag fest unequalled by any other game since. That is, until now.
Twenty years after the release of the original, UK software developers PomPom, creators of the award-winning Defender re-make Space Tripper, are about to release the Mac version of their Robotron-inspired Mutant Storm. Featuring a spruced-up version of their Space Tripper OpenGL graphics engine, Blizzard Entertainment software engineer Sam Lantinga's Simple DirectMedia Layer (SDL) library, and an implementation of the lua scripting language, Mutant Storm packs all the excitement and adrenaline of the arcade classic while incorporating Tron-inspired visuals and state-of-the-art OpenGL special effects.
Building upon elements from Robotron and Williams Electronics’ 1990 release, Smash TV, Mutant Storm places you in charge of a ship on some distant and strange claustrophobic planet whose once-peaceful inhabitants have been struck by dark cosmic rays, causing them to mutate into a wide range of vicious Blighters. These mutants are hell-bent on swarming you in an effort to obliterate any visitors to their planet. Your job is to return order and peace to the overrun planet by destroying the Mutant Storm.
Like its arcade game predecessor, Mutant Storm places the camera well above the action, giving players a top-down view of the action. Starting alone in the screen, players are quickly surrounded by alien mutants that either rise to the surface of the planet or fall from the sky. Players can move and shoot independently in four different directions, allowing complete freedom to obliterate all evil mutants. Red box-shaped walls, placed judiciously throughout the arena provide strategic obstacles to the mutants, allowing players a little reprieve to the onslaught of the alien horde. Scoring is based on the number of enemies destroyed; the longer it takes to destroy the mutants, the nastier they become, and the greater number of points they’re worth. You are limited to the amount of time you spend on each level – if the level countdown comes to an end before destroying all Mutants, large indestructible alien mutants materialise on the planet surface, swarming around you and increasing in number until you’re inevitably overrun.
Luckily, Mutant Storm does provide players with some reprieve to the good fight. Powerups are periodically released by the aliens that, if caught in time, enhance your firing power or provide temporary shields. Smart Bombs are also provided as a last resort, triggering a huge explosion killing everything within its blast radius. Smart Bombs are in limited supply however, and, like extra lives, are awarded at every tenth level of gameplay.
The overall object of the game is to get as high a score as possible. The longer a player takes to clear a level, the more points the mutants are worth. Score Multipliers kick in as players progress throughout the game without being killed and as the game progresses, the difficulty level, tracked by martial-arts style coloured belts, steadily increases depending on how well players are doing.