Tackling tut-vultures are on your tail

by Michael Blanchet

Of all the maze-game variations that followed in the wake of Pac-Man, Stern’s Tutankham is the first reworking of the popular labyrinth theme to show any originality and consequently, any new challenge. Assuming the identity of an intrepid treasure-seeker, the player’s objective is to navigate through a series of underground hallways in search of valuables and keys.

Since each maze differs from the one before and each creature you encounter moves at random, executing a preset series of moves or patterns is worthless in Tutankham. Familiarizing yourself with the rules of the game is the first step to mastery.

As you might expect. the brief description Stern supplies on how to play Tut is just that—brief and somewhat incomplete. The difficulty most first-time players encounter is not knowing what to do.

Your man is controlled by a four-way joystick. while your gun is aimed and fired either left or right by a two-position control handle. It is very important to remember that firepower can only be used facing east or west. When treading through a vertical corridor, be sure no one is following too closely. Your weapon fires on an automatic basis. Therefore, it is not necessary to return the joystick to center after each volley. In Tut, like Robotron, the game that pioneered the dual joystick control, you can fire and move independently. In simpler terms, you can fire as you retreat to cover your tracks or you may shoot ahead to clear your path.

The best approach to Tut is to make haste. Bonus points are awarded based on the amount of time left on the timer at the end of the round. This is the most lucrative source of point revenue. Hanging around to battle the snakes, vultures and bats is not only unsafe, but also unwise, economically speaking. lf you choose to hold your ground and blast away. the points awarded for killing each creature are offset by the value of bonus points lost. Furthermore, the longer any round lasts, the greater the number of bats that will appear. By virtue of their speed and erratic flight. bats are your most dangerous opponents. By firing in defense only and stopping only long enough to pick up the keys and treasures, you guarantee yourself the highest possible bonus.

Don’t waste time on vultures

When you reach the second maze, your strategy should not vary. Backtracking is required though. since there are two keys and two locks to be opened. After picking up the first key. proceed to the end of the maze and unlock the door. Now tum back and get the second key. Once you have found it, return to the first door and continue on. You will enter a large room. The second keyhole is in the lower right-hand comer of the screen.

Having a Flash at your disposal once you enter this room is very important. As you head toward the lower comer, bats will begin to materialize all around you. In this open-field situation, they have a superior strategic advantage. Use the Flash judiciously in the earlier stages of the game to ensure that you have it when it will really count. On the other hand, it is foolish to be too frugal with them. You are granted one Flash per game life, not three per game. The Flash is not retroactive and any game life lost before the Flash is used deprives you of a valuable weapon that cannot be recovered.

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