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Dexter is an android sent on a mission to capture data from a team of scientists that will result in life remaining constant within the galaxy. However, he encounters many treacherous obstacles and puzzles to achieve this along with his podocephalus companion, Scooter.
A Towering Eyeful
The year is 1986 and the Anglo-French treaty on the Channel Tunnel has just been signed. French newspaper, Le Parisien also cause nationwide concern on April Fools' Day by declaring that the Eiffel Tower would soon be moved to nearby Disneyland. But the biggest impression the French made to a teen computer geek that year happened to land on England's shores bearing the title of "Get Dexter".
Born as Crafton & Xunk in its homeland, this isometric 3D game built on the success of its 1985 forebearers, Knightlore and Alien8 (no relation to Pixel8!), by bringing with it a newfound collection of fresh visuals and appealing humour to the CPC. A nation of Amsgeeks were heard to cry out, "At last!"
This is one of those rare Amstrad games that knocked me away for six the first time it appeared on my screen, delivering lifelike textures and an enriched colour palette that invigorated the landscape beautifully. Compared to many of the monochrome Amstrad titles at the time, it seemed by comparison that the developers had somehow snuck in and crammed an Amiga motherboard into my machine.
And on to the mission. Well, it seems that Dexter is on the hunt around various rooms to seek out an array of scientists who each hold one digit of a secret code combination. But it's not, like, just the code to a locker with an old pair of socks and a half eaten cheese roll in it, oh no! It seems that all galactic life will be able to continue once Dexter is able to attain and copy the full code to let the good scientists at his end have their way with it. The trick to eighties computer games is not to allow a perfectly implausible plot to ruin your experience!
Joining Dexter on his exploits is his trusty podocephalus (a head attached to a foot), called Scooter. To get Scooter's help, Dexter can whistle for his attention. However, I personally find Scooter more of a hinderance than a help. He has a habit of getting in the way at the most inopportune moments, such as when you really need to get ahead of a scientist to stop him raising the alarm. Plus, the high-pitched noise he makes when you're stuck in a corner with him could make your ears bleed.
But there's otherwise so much to love about this game. As you navigate the rooms you can prevent your enemies, which includes a pernicious nurse, a punk, and several chromed-up robots, from reducing your health. This can be done by pushing certain obstacles in their way that they cannot clear, or by locating items that will permanently take out the robots. The robots' demise is beautifully rendered as they disintegrate into a puddle or a cloud of smoke. You have to recall that when the game was released, this animation on its own looked quite phenomenal.
There are colour-coded doors that Dexter needs to find the equivalent key card to open so that he can progress further along, and this might involve having to search for them from afar. However, as you can only carry one item at a time then this means you'll need to plan ahead a little to ensure a safe and painless journey.
A sense of humour is always on display and this is no more apparent than when you have to bounce up and down on the hospital beds to reach up high to pick up an object. But don't get too carried away as the bed is liable to break, permanently! This is so humourously animated with an equally amusing sound effect to boot.
Get Dexter is a complete gem from the bygone days of home computing, and it's also an all-time Amstrad classic. As such, it should be right there at the top of your CPC collection. Now!
One last thing: what a great game title for anyone who's a lazy bones. You can type it all in using just your left hand!
It's easy to get immersed in the beautifully textured rooms carrying with them a great sense of 3D perspective.
A nice jolly old tune during the demo but in-game effects are sparse. Some high pitched repetitive sounds can be a little harsh on the ears.
A fair amount of effort has to go in for long-term rewards, but you'll have fun trying! Scooter, your companion, can often be at the foot of all your problems.
Despite the animation rate slowing down sometimes when too much is happening on the screen, this is a triumph of a game.
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