Title Cygnus 8 Company Applaud Software / Islona (publisher) Game Type Action Strategy Players 1 HD Installable Yes (Copy to hd) Compatibility All Submission Joachim Froholt Profiled Reviewer Review Cygnus 8 is an updated version of the C64 game Star Trader (released in 1984 by Bug Byte). It's essentially a space trading game where the goal is to become rich and famous by buying and selling a variety of commodities, but it's different from most games in the genre in that your main character has a life outside his spaceship as well. He needs food and sleep, and he can do various things while visiting any of the planets in the game. The player's character is, of course, a very important part of the game, and you have to keep him well fed and in good health. This is, in the beginning at least, easier said than done. In order to keep up a good health, you'll have to eat and sleep regularly. This wouldn't really be a problem if you could just buy some food rations and get some sleep aboard your ship, but this isn't possible. Instead, you have to land on a planet, go to the local pub or hotel and get some sleep. Food is only served in the pub. And to make matters more difficult, you can't buy yourself a bit to eat at any time of the day - the pub's only open in the evening (same with the hotel). This means that if you arrive on some planet in the early morning and you're starving, then you'll have no choice but to wait for hours of in-game time before your character can get something to eat. Needless to say, this can be quite annoying, especially as there's no logical reason why food is only available in one pub at a particular time of the day - you can fly from one solar system to another with a very small amount of effort, but you're not able to find a decent morning meal no matter what you do. As you see, the time of the day plays an important part in Cygnus 8. Shops and stuff are only open at certain times of the day, so you'll often find yourself with nothing to do but wait. Time passes instantly from one part of the day to the next as soon as you do something - i.e. buy merchandise, buy a meal, visit the bank and so on. You can also select to do nothing and skip a turn. When you're not on a planet, you're in space. Space flight is quite simple - you're presented with a screen featuring an overhead map of the universe, with your ship hovering above the planet you were last at. You then fly the ship to another planet and push the joystick down to land there. On your way, you'll have to avoid getting hit by dangerous asteroids that zip around the screen. They're really no big deal unless you're unlucky, though (and if you get hit, you'll only lose some energy). Sometimes, there might be pirates in orbit around some planets, and if you try to land there, you'll be taken to the battle screen. Battles are very simple turn based affairs that borrows the basic gameplay idea from classics such as Laser Squad and UFO: Enemy Unknown. You've got your ship in the bottom of the screen and the opposing ships in the top. When it's your turn, you aim at a ship, fire your weapon and hope that the ship takes enough damage to blow up. If it doesn't, you shoot again. Firing a weapon drains a bit of your energy bar, and when you've spent all your energy, the remaining enemies fire back at you. When you've gone through this a couple of times, you're either dead or victorious... There's very little strategy to think of, as you can't move your ship (and it wouldn't have mattered if you could), and thus the battles become quite boring very quickly. You'll spend most of the game time trying to make money. This is done in the standard trading game fashion: You buy some goods at one planet, then travel somewhere else where you sell them, preferably at a profit. Trading is good fun for a while, though the prices seem to be determined more by chance than by a complex interplanetary economic system. There are also a couple of dishonest ways to make money: You can attempt to rob the banks or shops (while they're closed). This isn't really much fun and you probably won't do it often (if at all), as it involves quite a risk of getting caught, and there's nothing much you can do to influence the outcome. The main problem with Cygnus 8 is that once you get over the initial difficulties (when your character is starving to death outside the pub and stuff like that) making money eventually becomes too easy. Bucketloads of money would be okay if there were some expensive pieces of equipment to buy, but there's very little of that. So instead of trying to make enough money to buy a fancy new ship or lethal weapon, you just wind up making money for the sake of making money. When there's no point in having the money, there's no point in making it either, and the game just becomes boring after an hour or so, because you realize that you've seen pretty much everything there is to see. The actual goal of the game is to complete a series of missions, but the ones I played didn't really add anything to the gameplay. To make things worse, you can't save the game properly, you have to complete a set amount of missions and the game will give you a password so you can start from that point again. Uhuh? What's wrong with a save game function? It should have been rather easy to implement in such a game. With the current system, many players will just quit the game when they're tired of it, and so they'll have to start over again if they want to play again (which doesn't really make playing again very tempting). Cygnus 8 features a very nice and comprehensive ingame manual which explains most everything the game has to offer. The user interface is easy to get to grips with, and you won't have problems at all, provided you spend some minutes with the manual before playing. The game is also, as far as I can tell, pretty bug-free. The graphics are fairly decent and colourful. Most of the game's graphics are still pictures of the locations you're in, and there are very few animations to look at. The game could have done well with some more variation in the graphics, though - all planets look the same down to the smallest detail, and there are no colourful alien characters to interact with. The music is also quite reasonable, though it gets noisy after a while. It's standard demoscene stuff which doesn't really sound as if it was ever intended as background music for a game. In total, Cygnus 8 is a game which promises much but delivers little. It's not a really bad game, but it's not particularily good either, and while the first hour or so is quite entertaining, the game never really progress anywhere after that and most players will quickly lose interest. It certainly wasn't worth the original asking price, but rumours has it that it's available as a free download from a legal Amiga site, and it's certainly worth a try.