The world of the cute needs to be removed from your memories for the next slice of gaming history! Rainbow Islands is nothing like our next game in the Your Sinclair Top 100, which is currently loading into our ZX Spectrums. Granted No.#7 from Firebird is a hailed as a classic, but you’re really not going to take down The Sentinel with rosy cheeks and a rainbow.
The Sentinel, created by Geoff Crammond, first appeared on the BBC Micro in 1986, but on that machine it was called The Sentry. However as it was ported over to numerous other home computers it picked up The Sentinel as its new title and in 1987 Software Creations – which included, Mike Follin, Geoff Crammond, Tim Follin – brought this game of absorb or be absorbed to the ZX Spectrum.
The primary goal of the The Sentinel is to become it; however to achieve this you need to first gain enough ground to tower above the current overseer. To gather the materials to raise yourself above the always watching guardian of this land, you need to absorb anything around you, this includes trees, boulders and your previous body. Only when you have enough energy can you begin your climb, however if you fall into the gaze of the Sentinel it will rapidly drain all your energy until you are nothing.
The Sentinel is a huge achievement of a game on the ZX Spectrum – it’s graphically brilliant to look at, the suspense is there and it still shows game programmers today, what programmers of old could achieve on a mere 48K of RAM. However time, as ever, has played a cruel part in diminishing the power of The Sentinel as a whole. We’re now well into the “Age of the Mouse” and as there was no mice on the ZX Spectrum, here you have to pull and push the screen or cursor around – using keys – looking for your next boulder, tree or previous host to absorb. This is a bit of a drag and when the Sentinel has you in its sights you tend the make a rash jump due to this speed, so you then spend valuable time looking for your previous hosts empty husk.
The Sentinel is a technical achievement on the ZX Spectrum and should be played to see what the Follins and Crammond managed to squeeze into a tiny 48K machine. However if you really want to play The Sentinel now there are a fair few PC ports out there, but for anyone that wants a quick blast I’d recommend the flash version here.
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