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Article #31 (79 is last):
From: ap803@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Robert Jung)
Subject: LYNX: Crystal Mines II
Posted-By: xx004 (aa399 - Len Stys)
Reply-To: ap803@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Robert Jung)
Date: Sat Mar 21 16:15:47 1992

  In the winter months, the video-game reviewer slumbers, slowly feeding off
its accumulated texts from the months before. But then, upon the first signs
of a new Lynx game in spring, the sleeping giant awakes again, and the
newsgroups tremble...

  (I'm baaaaaaaaaaack...  B-)

1 player, horizontal game
Atari Corp., for the Atari Lynx
Stereo? No

    What do you get when you cross DIG DUG with CHIP'S CHALLENGE? The answer
is CRYSTAL MINES II, the latest puzzle/strategy game for the Atari Lynx, and a
sequel to Color Dream's original puzzle game for the Nintendo Entertainment
System. You control a mining robot whose objective is to gather precious gems
from a series of underground caverns. You must do this while avoiding falling
rocks, wandering monsters, radioactivity, lava, and the dwindling time limit.

    The robot is equipped with a digging laser and dynamite, which can be used
to fight creatures and create caverns.  Meet the gem quota for a level, and
you must next find the exit to travel to another, more complex cavern. Some
caverns offer more advanced challenges, such as gravity-altering switches and
item-changing pipes. The game offers 150 regular levels and 31 hidden levels,
ensuring lots of challenge.

    One of the best aspect of CRYSTAL MINES II is the diversity of game
elements, which all interact in consistently complex ways. Rocks, dirt, and
creatures can be explosive, indestructible, or easily disposed. Temporary
enhancements are available for use, such as a long-range laser, a map of the
current level, or protective shielding.  Gathering more valuable gems can help
you meet the level's quota faster; other game elements can help or hinder your
progress, depending on how you use them.

    The game elements all interact in a consistent manner, and a lot of the
time is spent learning how they interact with you and with each other. A big
reason for this is the instruction booklet (yes, the booklets are back) -- It
is deliberately general, teaching only the most basic elements of gameplay and
leaving the rest for the player to explore and discover. To make this easier,
you have an unlimited number of robots, and each level has a four-letter
password to let you play there in future games. Even better, if you take too
many tries to finish a level, the game will offer to skip it.

    Though CRYSTAL MINES II is clearly a strategy title, it places a bit more
emphasis on good reflexes than other games of this genre. This is neither good
nor bad; how much you will enjoy this title depends mainly on what combination
of strategy and action you prefer. Completing a cavern relies on figuring out
how to use the features of that level to uncover gems and equipment, stop
pursuing enemies, and avoid robot-destroying dangers. Aside from the first few
introductory stages, the levels are very challenging and not easily solved.

    The sights and sound of CRYSTAL MINES II are simply functional, and no
more. The main game graphics are drawn with grid-oriented components, with
little or no animation. On the other hand, game features with similar
properties are drawn similarly, making it easier to predict how they will
react. Similarly, music and sounds are all very basic. Most of the noise comes
from the title theme, which plays throughout the game, though it can be
toggled off with Option 2. Other game sounds are generic, though distinctive
from each other.

    CRYSTAL MINES II borrows a lot from earlier puzzle games, especially
BOULDER DASH and CHIP'S CHALLENGE, and produces a decent challenge to both the
mind and the reflexes. Though it won't win any awards for special effects, the
large number of demanding levels and the wide array of game elements make
this a respectable title for any strategy game player.

                GAMEPLAY:        9
                GRAPHICS:        6
                SOUND:           5
                OVERALL:         7.5

  Rating values  10 - 8   Great! This game can't get much better.
                  7 - 5   Good. Average game, could be improved.
                  4 - 2   Poor. For devotees only.
                      1   Ick. Shoot it.


  Here's hoping for more games very soon.


   Send whatevers to    |      If it has pixels, I'm for it.
--------------------------------------+------------------------------Lynx up!
"You weren't chosen because you are the best pilot in the Air Force. You were
    chosen because you are the class clown and frankly, you're expendable."

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