Deep into outer space, a distress call has been received from the mining base on planet K3R-NL of the Leonis system. It appears that a virus has infected their network, causing a life support malfunction that has forced all personnel to evacuate the base. A deeper look into the message uncovers an unauthorised payload…KERNAL LIVES.
In Dawn of Kernel for the AMSTRAD CPC and AMSTRAD GX4000, your job is head on into the mining base complex, locate and destroy the source of the virus and restore the base back to operational status.
To control the rocket craft that you will be using to complete your mission you simply use:
- Joystick left and right to move sideways
- Joystick up to apply upward thrust
- Fire button to shoot your primary weapon
- Fire button plus down joystick to shoot your secondary weapon
- Push joystick down twice to switch secondary weapons
Mastering the use of the thrust is imperative to help you successfully navigate your way through vertically orientated chambers as once you stop pushing up, your craft will start to descend down due to the planet’s gravitational pull.
While the craft’s primary weapon, a canon blaster, has unlimited ammunition, the same does not apply to either of the secondary weapons (long range missiles and bombs), so you need to ensure that you use them wisely.
Dawn of Kernel’s game world is sizeable but it is split up into manageable sections where the aim of each is navigate your way through series of corridors and tunnel shafts to locate a teleporter that will take you further into the complex.
To prevent you from progressing, you will have to deal with various forms of security droids and weaponry that are all under control of the AI that has taken control of the computer system. Each enemy type has their own attack and defense characteristics which ensures that you are constantly kept engaged with the action on hand.
It is imperative that you destroy all power stations you come across as these form part of the AI’s core defenses. You will not be able to complete the game unless all power stations are eliminated. At times you will be given an opportunity to collect some invaluable pick ups such as additional units of shields or secondary weapons. If you are lucky you will come across the Nova pickup which instantly destroys all enemies on screen.
The key to progressing within Dawn of Kernel is to take in the corridor and enemy layout of each screen and then adopting a cautious shoot and retreat approach to ensure that you don’t lose too much of your energy when engaged with enemies. The game only provides a single life and if you lose all your energy then you have to restart the game all the way from the beginning as there are no save or checkpoints. But fortunately, eliminated enemies do not respawn, rewarding the player for the effort put in to eliminate them in the first place.
Despite the slight annoyance of having to replay the earlier sections of the game, Dawn of Kernel is very enjoyable to play. This is primarily due to you being able to control the pacing of the action on most screens and the uncanny ability to constantly progress further into the complex with each successive game. Add the unfolding story to the mix and the drive to see the game through to the end is strong.
Dawn of Kernel is developed by Juan Martinez and I have always appreciated the graphical style that Juan adopts with his projects and Dawn of Kernel is no exception. Characters are well defined and well animated, making full use of the extended colour palette on offer. The backgrounds look textured and various structures even cast shadows, which illustrates the attention to detail that has been lavished on the game.
Aurally, the game is also strong with handful of music tracks on offer, accompanied by suitable sound effects in the way of good blasting and explosion effects.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Dawn of Kernel. It provides a simple game design that is very well executed to provide gameplay that is addictive and challenging but most importantly rewarding. Juan’s ability to progress a story within general play is another highlight and enhances the title further. Dawn of Kernel is easily one of my top 5 favourite games released for 2018 across all 8 and 16 bit vintage systems and I encourage you check the game out irrespective of whether you are a fan of Amstrad and its games.
To learn more about Dawn of Kernel, check out the video game review below.
A simple game design that is very well executed. Game-play is addictive, well paced and challenging but ultimately rewarding.
Retro gaming journalist promoting NEW C64, Amiga, Amstrad CPC & ZX Spectrum games. Runs the Retro Gamer Nation YouTube channel and is a contributor to RVG and Vintage is the New Old blog sites, Komoda & Amiga Plus magazine and various other publications.