Reviewed by Pug
Remember Scramble? That game where you pilot a spaceship through caverns collecting fuel and dropping bombs, etc.? Well, this is an early attempt at bringing the game to the CPC. For the year it was released, this is not a bad attempt. Sure, the scrolling is a little jerky and you can’t actually drop bombs, but it’s fun and makes good use of the CPC’s colour palette. It’s presented well and you can choose which stage you wish to start at. A pleasant but primitive tune plays on the title screen, with in-game effects doing their job. A hidden gem from the early days of the CPC.
Reviewed by Robert Small
Star Bowls is a really good little action game featuring platforming, exploration, item collection and shoot-’em-up action. The game features well drawn backgrounds and satisfying explosions when you destroy enemies. I particularly liked the ability to change direction in mid-air while firing as this helps improve the gameplay. To help you traverse the environment you have a a jet pack and you can use hooks to ascend and descend to different locations. The game does have some poor music at the start but the in-game effects are good enough.
Aliens have invaded several galaxies and you must stop them. Each galaxy has sixteen sectors, all of which must be cleared before you can go to the next galaxy. In each sector, you must simply blast waves of aliens until the ‘danger level’ reaches zero. If the going gets too tough, you can warp out of danger by holding down the fire button for several seconds. Your ship’s power can be restored by visiting the mother ship, but you can only do this once per galaxy. This shoot-’em-up was released early in the CPC’s life, so the graphics and sound effects are quite basic, although the scrolling is rather fast. The gameplay is very straightforward, and while it will eventually become repetitive, it’s actually not a bad game if you’re looking for a quick blast.
Reviewed by Robert Small
Star Control offers something to both fans of arcade games and those looking for deeper strategy and I think that’s a really good thing. It’s like having two games in one. You’re not stuck with one type of game, so you can fulfil your starship captain fantasies as you see fit. Going toe-to-toe with the enemy is a bit like Asteroids. It’s all about circling each other and finding the best way to strike. There is a nice variety of craft for you or a friend to choose from. The strategy element offers a change of pace and adds a bit of depth. The graphics are functional but I don’t think this game needs anything fancy as it plays so well.
(Radical Software, 1994)
After the asteroid mines were abandoned, the runways and roads were used as racing tracks instead, in the Asteroid Championships. The rules are simple; stay on the road and complete an orbit of the track in under 60 seconds in order to qualify for the next round. If you are successful (and extremely good), you have the option to try a ‘double orbit’ in under 100 seconds to get a massive bonus, but if you fail, you’re knocked out of the Championship. Graphically, the game is very impressive and the scrolling is very fast, but controlling your car is quite awkward, and the game is very unforgiving with regard to the time limit and the width of the track.
(Topo Soft/Kixx, 1987)
Reviewed by Pug
Earth sights a large fleet approaching from the depths of space. The Biodroid Empire is planning a mass invasion upon Earth. The heavily shielded fleet’s only weakness is their shield generator. This is where you come in, piloting your Astrohunter spacecraft. In this top-down shoot-’em-up, you must fly past the alien cruisers, taking out towers, guns and ships. The last part of the game involves running on foot to take out the shield generator. This game boasts some truly amazing graphics, and for once, is not a Spectrum port. A pleasant tune plays on the menu screen with good in-game sound effects.
You have travelled far across the galaxy to annihilate a race of hostile aliens called the Firebirds. Your mission is simple – shoot them all! This is an unoriginal Galaxian clone with two or three additional features. The Firebirds appear on the screen in waves, and if you don’t shoot them all quickly, another wave will appear. If things get too much, you can switch on your shield, warp to the top of the screen, and destroy a few aliens at the same time. As well as aliens, there are bombs that fall very slowly and which release a line of shrapnel when shot, and an Emperor Bird that homes in on you and requires several hits to destroy. It’s all been done before, and in addition, there is almost no difference between one level and the next.
(Electric Dreams, 1987)
The Celos IV star range is under attack from the Zylons. You must stop them from destroying all the cities on the four planets of the Celos IV system, and in turn, destroy all of their bases within their own Procyon star range. The action sees you zooming over the planets, blasting Zylon fighters and destroyers, and then travelling to a space station for repairs – and doing it all over again, and again. Your spacecraft also has shields and a Surface Star Burst, or SSB, which is used to destroy Zylon bases. The graphics are fairly simple, although the explosions are spectacular and the scrolling of the planet’s surface produces a great pseudo-3D effect. It’s a game that will appeal to shoot-’em-up fans, although ultimately it is a bit repetitive in the long term.
This is a version of the classic Lunar Lander with a few bells and whistles added. Firstly, the simple line-drawn graphics of the original have been replaced by much more colourful graphics. The sound effects are decent as well, and there’s the added problem of dodging flying rocks. There’s only one screen, though, in which you have to land your spacecraft on four landing areas – misjudge the landing, though, and you lose one of your six lives. You’ve also got to watch your fuel level! The second level (using the same screen) is harder, as you must also avoid laser beams. Sadly, the difficulty is so high that it’s doubtful that you will complete the second level.
Fast and furious shoot-’em-up action is what you’ll get in this game. Pilot your spaceship through four levels of mayhem and dodge the waves of aliens and scenery, as well as all the bullets that are fired in your general direction. Every so often, you can collect bonus icons to improve your firepower, and as well as an end-of-level monster, you also have to deal with a similarly powerful alien spaceship halfway through each level. In short, nearly all of the ingredients of a typical shoot-’em-up can be found in this game. Although there is no music to listen to, and there are only four levels, the graphics are beautiful and the scrolling is very smooth, even when there are a lot of aliens on the screen, and it’s definitely a game that is well worth checking out. There is also a 128K edition which contains lots of enhancements to make it even better!