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! The Amiga version has 32-colors on-screen but the game basically looks like a polished 8bit game and not like a pure 16bit game! The sprites' animation is fast but limited only to a few frames per sprite while the backgrounds look colorful but mediocre.
SOUND The game's sound (Amiga version) offers a few blasting sound effects along with a great background tune composed by David Whittaker (it's the same tune found on the game's intro) and it's way superior to the ST counterpart.
CPU: Motorola MC68000 7.16 MHz MEMORY: 512KB of Chip RAM (OCS chipset - A500), 512 KB of Slow RAM or Trapdoor RAM can be added via the trapdoor expansion, up to 8 MB of Fast RAM or a Hard drive can be added via the side expansion slot. The ECS chipset (A500+) offered 1MB on board to 2MB (extended) of Chip RAM. GRAPHICS: The OCS chipset (Amiga 500) features planar graphics (codename Denise custom chip), with up to 5 bit-planes (4 in hires), allowing 2, 4, 8, 16 and 32 color screens, from a 12bit RGB palette of 4096 colors. Resolutions varied from 320x256 (PAL, non-interlaced, up to 4096 colors) to 640x512 (interlace, up to 4 colors). Two special graphics modes where also included: Extra Half Bright with 64 colors and HAM with all 4096 colors on-screen. The ECS chipset models (Amiga 500+) offered same features but also extra high resolution screens up to 1280x512 pixels (4 colors at once). SOUND: (Paula) 4 hardware-mixed channels of 8-bit sound at up to 28 kHz. The hardware channels had independent volumes (65 levels) and sampling rates, and mixed down to two fully left and fully right stereo outputs