Spectrum 2.0

Review of 'Deflektor'

Rating:5 User: Digital Prawn

Excellent mix of puzzle and arcade action in this 1987 game from renowned spectrum programmer Costa Panayi. Very enjoyable to play and very original concept too. Superbly implemented.

For those who don't know, each level is self-contained and consists of a series of mirrors and a laser beam that must be directed onto targets (called nodes) in order to destroy them all. Once this is accomplished, a barrier is removed and the laser beam must be directed back into a laser-sensing receptacle in order to complete the level. The player cannot control the laser directly, only indirectly by reflecting it off rotatable mirrors in its path. This is achieved by moving a cursor around the screen using QAKLM keys or a joystick. Holding down fire on top of a mirror whilst moving left or right causes a mirror to rotate by 45 degrees. Personally, I like to break out my USB Competition Pro joystick for this one, as its one of those games which just naturally seems designed for use with a digital joystick and works really well with it. It plays fine using keys too however.

The difficulty of the game is provided by in-level obstacles such as mines, barriers and also the possibility of overloading the laser by reflecting light back into itself. Each level also has a time limit making things quite tricky. If any mines or the laser blows up or you run out of time, you lose a life. You start with three lives. Even the first level isn't exactly a pushover on the first attempt. You have to learn the levels so that on successive attempts they can be done more quickly. I've been playing this game very sporadically for nearly two decades and I still haven't completed it. I do use end-of-level snapshots as I think it is VERY challenging otherwise, but I just have a habit of losing my saves over the years, so always find that I have to start from the beginning again.

Graphics are superb with the magenta colour of the levels really seeming just right, and also use of orange for barrier objects (well red and yellow dithering anyway). It's nice and colourful, certainly. m/c sound effects also suit the game really well.

I've just added this one to my list of games to definitely be completed. You should do the same (if you like this sort of game), I can't recommend it enough! Surely this one is one of the core classics of the speccy, up there with the other most popular games? I was a little surprised to find it hadn't yet been reviewed at the time of writing so perhaps it is often overlooked.

I understand from the Deflektor Wikipedia article that there was a sequel called Mindbender. (not to be confused with another unrelated speccy game called Mindbender) I've not yet had a chance to check it out.

There was also a PC remake from Retrospec. Again, I've not seen it, but personally I've grown to like the speccy version so much I think I'll be sticking with it.