Dan Dare III: The Escape is the third installment in Virgin's Dan Dare series that marked the 40th Anniversary of this great comic. DDIII is a classic platform shooter with lots of colorful aliens, great music but mediocre graphics and high difficulty level. The game was released for the 16bit Commodore Amiga, Atari ST and the 8bit Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum.
STORY / GAMEPLAY Dan Dare has been imprisoned by the dastardly Mekons again. Dan must now find a way to escape! He must wander (fly actually) around the Mekons' large ship using his spacesuit jet packs and collect several bits and pieces to trade for valuable fuel. There are many mutant creatures around so the task is not easy. Dan needs a special key to go to the next level and only a few big (really big) Green aliens have it. Travelling between levels is a hard part as Dan will easily lose a lot of energy if he doesn't follow the correct flying-path. The whole progress is rather slow and frustrating and the game is tough from the outset, with Dan dying time after time and in a quick succession plus that things are getting worse as Dan's weapons run out of ammo very quickly! Overall, this game is not impressive and needs some guts to play, so, if you have them....go for it!
GRAPHICS While the game starts with a loading sequence of colorful and well-drawn comic frames, accompanied by a few well sampled pieces of speech along with a great tune, the main game could have been better (at least the visuals). The sprites are small and rather flat-looking plus that they lack the appropriate animation to bring a comic strip to life! Although its 16-colors on-screen the game on the ST looks mediocre and sometimes suffers from the known framerate drops.
SOUND The ST version starts with a great sampled tune composed by David Whittaker (but of lower sampling quality compared to the Amiga version). Into the game, the sound consists of just a few basic sound effects along with the intro's tune but limited to the Atari's chip sound.
CPU: Motorola 68000 16/32bit at 8mhz. 16 bit data bus/32 bit internal/24-bit address bus. MEMORY: RAM 512KB (1MB for the 1040ST models) / ROM 192KB GRAPHICS: Digital-to-Analog Converter of 3-bits, eight levels per RGB channel, featuring a 9-bit RGB palette (512 colors), 320x200 (16 color), 640x200 (4 color), 640x400 (monochrome). With special programming techniques could display 512 colors on screen in static images. SOUND: Yamaha YM2149F PSG "Programmable Sound Generator" chip provided 3-voice sound synthesis, plus 1-voice white noise mono PSG. It also has two MIDI ports, and support mixed YM2149 sfx and MIDI music in gaming (there are several games supported this).