The cover of Psygnosis' "Atomino" features a manic-looking scientist playing with a charged molecule. This might be a picture of you if you ever reach the advertised zenith of level 60,000. We wouldn't know, several hours of concentrated play put us at level 23.
Don't be discouraged, however. Those 20-odd levels were a lot of fun. "Atomino" (which rhymes with "Domino") is a painless, potentially obsessive brain teaser that can keep you entertained for many hours of game play without the usually attendant frustration of arcade zappers.
The basic premise of the game is built around atoms with one to four electrons. Put two atoms next to each other. Although certain scientific realities are probably ignored, two adjacent atoms will always share a common electron. If you assemble your atoms properly, you'll eliminate all stray electrons and . . . voila ! A molecule.
Each level of the game gives you a task to accomplish. "Make two molecules," or "Make three molecules of at least seven atoms each." The higher the level the harder the task. It's fun and it's obsessive. Just one more level.
But beware, the game manual bites the big one. Written in three languages, it gives very good directions and samples of how to build molecules and gets you started playing the game quickly. But some features of the game are badly treated. The biggest problem is that it fails to explain how the password option works. Without it, you have to start over at level one every time you lose the game. The second biggest problem is that the listed phone number of the game manufacturers is in England! Space limitations allow us to help with only the second problem. The American branch of the company can be reached at (617) 731-3553. They should be able to help with the first problem.
Rating: * * *
IBM & compatibles, Tandy, Amiga, Atari, C 64; 512K RAM; Sound cards & joystick supported; List: $49.99
Computer games are rated on a five-star system, from one star for poor to five for excellent.