Professional, Originally Released On Cassette Only
Game Type : Arcade Platform Game
Authors : Timothy J. Wilkinson & John R. Day
Standalone Release(s) : 1985: THE HACKER, Firebird, £2.99
1987: THE HACKER, Firebird, £1.99 (BBC Side A/Elk Side B)
Compilation Release(s) : None
Stated compatibility : Electron
Actual compatibility : Electron
Supplier : FIREBIRD, Wellington House, Upper St. Martin's Lane, LONDON
Disc compatibility : Incompatible. Customised Loading Sequences
"The Hacker is the ultimate technological voyager, capable of travelling from terminal to mainframe via the telephone network. There are 12 treacherous stages to overcome before The Hacker reaches the access code at the heart of the system. Grit your teeth and hold on to your floppies!"
Intent on gaining access to the central computer games library, Hank has developed The Hacker - a controllable sprite capable of travelling through microscopic circuits. The Hacker must pass through Hank's terminal and modem, into the telephone network and out through a second modem, access the mainframe, its buffer and data bus, enter the CPU and reach the main file store. At each stage of the journey, The Hacker appears at the bottom right of the screen and must overcome the obstacles in his path to reach the top left corner. Five white floppy discs appear in each screen and must be collected before moving on. The Hacker has only limited time before his power expires - any power remaining after the completion of a screen is added to your score.
There are 12 stages in this game, each of which can be practised independently by typing HELP when the High Score Table is displayed.
You can control The Hacker with the following keys:
Z - Left, X - Right, RETURN - Jump, H - Halt, C - Continue
Instructions' Source : THE HACKER (Firebird) Inner Inlay
Review (Electron User)
This hacker really has little to do with hacking. However it makes an interesting and topical story line for the game. It's actually a Manic Miner-type levels game. There are twelve screens and man different puzzles and obstacles to overcome. Your objective is to gain access to the central computer games' library.
You are cast in the role of a small man who is able to pass through electrical circuits. It's here that the action takes place. You must pass through your modem into the telephone network. Then it's out of the mainframe's modem, into its buffer, down its data bus and into the central processing unit. Then you can access the files.
On each screen are five floppy discs to collect and a time limit in which to do it. The time remaining when you've completed the screen is added to your score.
Any screen can be practised without having to start at the beginning and go through each one. This is a useful feature which I wish more games had.
The graphics are quite nice but the movement of the characters is fairly slow and they aren't very smooth. This spoils the game somewhat. I should imagine it's much better on the BBC Micro with that little bit extra speed.
However having said that, Firebird software tends to be cheaper than most, so taking that into account it's a reasonable game.
Roland Waddilove, ELECTRON USER 3. 4
Review (Electron User) - "Cheap, But Not Cheerful"
Quite a lot of budget software has been released recently, some of which compares favourably with games costing up to three times as much. Unfortunately, some only serves to give other budget software titles a bad name and in my opinion this game falls into this category.
It is of the platform and ladders genre, having 12 separate screens. A new one appears only when the previous one has been completed, though there is a practice mode which lets you access any screen.
Controls and movement are limited to left, right and jump. Progress is timed, but there is a pause facility enabling you to stop and plan your route. Unfortunately, I found that the movements of THE HACKER were rather jerky and key response wasn't all I would wish.
The theme is that THE HACKER has to pass through a terminal and modem into the telephone network. Then it's on into a central computer mainframe through a second modem (this is probably why screens B and F are identical and both titled "Do it the Modem Way").
Any similarity to a real hacker breaking into a real mainframe exists only in the screen titles, with names like On The Data Buses which at least gave me a chuckle, and Terminally Yours, which just about reflected how I felt when playing the game.
The sprites are well drawn, being fairly good representations of ROM chips, discs, cassettes and the like, but the remainder of the graphics are rather basic and the backgrounds plain.
Sound was virtually non-existent being limited to one monotonous tone as the character walks. There are different tones as he falls or dies on landing.
The screens are difficult to complete, but I wouldn't describe them as challenging as there doesn't seem to be any incentive to keep trying.
THE HACKER originally appeared about three years ago when software was difficult to find and arcade addicts a bit less demanding. Software houses would do well to remember that standards have improved and games of this quality can be found as simple magazine listings. My overall verdict: Dull and uninspiring.
Sound ........................... 1
Graphics ........................ 3
Playability ..................... 2
Value for money ................. 2
Overall ......................... 2
Beejay, ELECTRON USER 4.10