Captain Scarlet

Question: How do you make a game based on a man who’s ‘indestructible’?

Answer: Create a racing game based around his vehicles which aren’t.

Needless to say, this was also the easiest option for the developers – Brain in a Jar – to take. Destined for bargain bins from the word go, the presentation is just about passable for a budget effort. There’s no music in-game though – just the Captain Scarlet theme tune during mission briefings. This wouldn’t be a massive problem if the two vehicles available – Spectrum Patrol Car and Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle – didn’t sound like broken lawn mowers.

Captain ScarletOn the flipside, the most surprising thing about the game is the variety of missions, which range from against the clock races to VIP escorts. But no matter what task you undertake, the vehicles handle like tanks stuck in treacle and are about as fast. They don’t come out of second gear until you hit around 70mph, and even then they’re a bugger to swing around corners at speed.

Another problem is that the missions aren’t very well thought out. Take the one set on an ice covered mountain. The objective is to destroy seven Mysterion vehicles, but rather than spreading them out evenly to keep things interesting, only three are found on the way up the mountain – which takes five or six minutes to climb, incidentally – with the other four stupidly dumped together at the end of the level. If you die here then you have to do the whole lot again. Then there’s the escort mission set in London. In the first half a handful of enemies appear; during the second half just the one. That leaves you to aimlessly drive alongside the VIP’s vehicle while ‘admiring’ the pixellated London countryside.

The real crime, though, is the way the license has been wasted. With a bit more effort – and perhaps time – they could have created a neat little third person action-adventure game, with the characters animated to move like the puppets on which they’re based. They could have even left the strings in for added authenticity.

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