I've never really had the chance to play any Oric games before, the closest probably I've had is playing Spectrum games (with both machines fairly similar in terms of style). With this in mind, spotting a Oric title on the "to do" list was enough to make me curious and venture onto the platform to check out Toxic Slime and also the machine which some felt was greater than Sir Clive's baby. The game is a simple still screen affair and puts you in the control of an environmental activist who must go around various levels destroying factories which are creating deadly toxic slime (are we sure this isn't a Tony Gibson game...?). To do so, you must very simply enter the door, which will cause the factory to crumble. The twist to what sounds like a simple game is that there is an element of Tron in it. When you move around the screen you leave a toxic waste trail behind you, in a Tron-like manner. Just why this is the case, I don't know, but anyway... touch any toxic waste, and it's the end of civilisation as we know it (or you just lose one of your lives). The wreckage of factories contains a few impassable bricks, some toxic slime and occasionally some collectables. Crates give you extra points, Crosses will give you lots of bonus points, Lightning will destroy a lot of slime and debris and but the barrels will cause a random placement of more toxic slime across the screen. If you're not careful, hitting too many of these barrels could block your path to another factory or the exit, which appears at the top of the screen once you've destroyed all the factories.
YOU'RE TOXIC, I'M SLIPPING UNDER
The game starts off very simple with just the one factory and, as the game starts to really get going, more will appear that need to be destroyed. Certainly as you have four or more factories to destroy, you really have to start thinking about the best path to choose so that you can burn all the factories and escape safely at the top of the screen to the next level. Switch up to the hard setting in the game and then you have to clear the factories in order of the numbers on them, which isn't as simple as it sounds! Sadly I felt that the game became a little repetitive too soon, but the big downer were the niggles which can make it a bit of a pain in the backside to play; for instance, the movement overall is very clunky, and you have to resort to slight taps of the keys to move around, otherwise you can easily fall into the slime. One particular annoyance was that once you destroy a toxic plant, your character moves upwards automatically afterwards by a character. Sometimes this can catch you unawares and then you move up again to crash into some nearby toxic slime. Same thing happens when you collect some of the collectables in the game and can result in much frustration if you have got quite far and are on your last life.
The sound in the game is quite sparse with only sound effects available and no music, but what exists is functional. After checking out some other Oric releases, I've heard much better from the machine, and it's a shame we couldn't get more from the machine's sound department. Graphics are quite simple (objects around one char in size apart from the factories and their wreckage), but again functional and do their job - though not the best I've seen on the machine. Titles and general presentation is good however with some nice bold logos and text and some helpful hints between levels, but it's all a little quiet again on the sound front to support it and give it some extra polish. Overall Toxic Waste is all a bit too like one of your old magazine-type in affairs with some presentation bolted on top, but if you can see through its clunkyness and lack of decent sound, what you have is a fairly addictive little game which will cause you to lose maybe an hour or so, but maybe not much more than that. This isn't the best showcase for the Oric by a long shot, but it's not all that bad. The only thing to lose is a bit of your bandwidth to download it, as it's all free of charge. So why not take a look?