M.A.S.K. III – VENOM Strikes Back

The best of the M.A.S.K trilogy on the 8-bit home computers and one that I really enjoyed playing on my ZX Spectrum. Musically I was just expecting the title screen to feature the same version of the M.A.S.K. theme that the previous games had used but Ben Daglish surprised me but producing a superb piece that was nothing like I expected.

The Game

Matt Tracker receives a message on the MASK computer – “We have kidnapped Scott Tracker and are holding him to ransom on the moon. Unless you surrender your entire forces to venom you will never see him again. signed Miles Mayhem”

Matt is faced with a terrible dilema. To agree to VENOM’s demands would give them total control of the Peaceful Nations Alliance, but ignore the demands would surely mean to Scott life.

Can you, as Matt Tracker, rescue Scott and return him safely to Earth?

Critical Reaction

Mixed review for this one. Your Sinclair and Sinclair User agreed that the game was hovering above average while Crash couldn’t get enough of the game and loved it so much they awarded it a Crash Smash. Lets see why…

Your Sinclair – 7/10

It’s a shame that the game-designers were on a tea-break while this one was being written, as it really IS unnervingly similar to Mr Cecco’s monumental hunk of coding, extra weapons lying around to pick up and everything. Maybe that’s no bad thing in some respects, especially as quite a few new bits ‘n’ pieces have been tacked on, but it’s hardly going to make heads turn and tongues wibble.

Prejudices aside, I’ll have to admit that Mask III is probably the best of the trio and it’s reasonably good fun to play. Like Exolon, it’s one of those games where you get ever so slightly further each time you play, so you won’t get fed up with it too quickly.

Crash – 91/100

VENOM is definitely striking back with this great new addictive game from Gremlin. It’s basically just a horizontally scrolling shoot em up but it’s just packed full of detailed graphics and challenging puzzles that will have you glued to your screen for hours. Right from the start of the game you’re confronted a variety of nasties that all have their own way of destroying you. Once you’ve memorised the attack patterns then the game does get a bit easier and you can get further. I loved the way that once you enter a password you can go to that level through one of the four transporters. It saves a lot of time and stops the first few levels getting monotonous. Every screen is full of excellently designed objects and characters, all on an atmospheric background of moons and mountains. The animation on each screen adds a dimension of realism with rippling water and pretty detail! Brilliant colour, fantastic sound and there’s even a good game in there somewhere. VENOM Strikes Back is another great game in the MASK series.

My Thoughts

Your Sincair and Sinclair User both compare MASK III to another recently released game – Exolon. I personally don’t consider this to be a valid comparison as there is one major similarity – they both use a flip screen method rather than horizontal scrolling. Other then that there are major differences that set them apart.

I enjoyed all three of the MASK games but this one if the best of the trilogy and quite rightly so. It’s a great action game with puzzle elements as learning to use each of the various masks in the correct place is vital to your progress as each of the masks has different abilities but also a limited amount of energy so learning where best to use each mask is key.

The graphics are great, very nice and colourful with some good animation which really helps the game stand out as due to the limitations of the ZX Spectrum’s hardware colour-clash was often rife but with some clever design it’s kept to a minimum here. This is a very nice game. Very playable and addictive – even today.

The Music

As well as the title screen music from MASK III it would be remiss of me not to include the title screen music from the previous MASK games as it’s quite a nice but not outstanding piece of music unlike the theme for MASK III.

MASK I & II – Main Theme
MASK III – Main Theme
!!! BONUS – MASK TV Series Intro !!!

About Phendrena

Father, Retro Gamer, PC Gamer.

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