Having entered into orbit round the planet Dander you are woken from hypersleep. You are a member of the AMC (Astro Marine Corps), armed with a heavy duty assault rifle, and are about to be dropped onto the planet to tight the diabolical Deathbringers.
The Deathbringers are a gang of interplanetary pirates who wreak havoc wherever they land. The game splits into two sections. The first has you yomping up hill and down dale in search of the Deathbringers'ship and is played in a left to right horizontally scroll with plenty of deathbringing creatures after your hide. An Astro Marine support ship will occasionally drop supply cannisters to you, containing grenades, energy, shields and extra lives.
Once the end of level creature called Krauer is overcome, and you've gained secret access to the pirate ship, it's onto load two which takes you to the Deathbringers' planet. Your free passage to their hideout is not popular, and bloody battle ensues. This time your target is the Great Alien King, a huge pseudo-robot who breathes fire, and tough to kill.
The most impressive part of AMC is the scrolling: multi directional movement is incorporated, giving a great feel of reality. It's a pity the colourful, but splodgy sprites aren't in the same league. The game is quite playable, the challenge is tough, but not frustratingly so. I just wish that as much attention had been payed to the looks as to the technical wizardry.
Simply brilliant. That's the only way to describe Astro Marine Corps. I haven't enjoyed playing a game so much for ages. There is just so much going on, you wouldn't think you were playing on a Spectrum. AMC comes in two parts, each as mind blowingly playable as the last. The graphics in both are out of this world. Large, animated sprites fill every corner of the game, packed full of colour without any clash at all - a masterpiece of programming skill. Amazing, but there's more: full colour, animated backgrounds, oodles of sound effects and a toe tapping tune. Collecting the capsules that drop from the sky as you run along can have a variety of results. Some give you super weapons that kill everything in sight, but others release even worse nasties to nibble at your feet! AMC is one game that I will be playing for some time. Go on, be a devil and buy a copy - you won't be disappointed.
Yes, I thought AMC was some new hip hop artist from the Bronx too, but in fact it's Dinamic's latest scrolling shoot-'em-up, and fans of Dinamic's shoot-'em-ups will be delighted to hear that it's exactly like all Dinamics other scrolling shoot-'em-ups.
So where are we? What's going on? What am I looking at here? Good questions one and all, and after long and detailed research (reading the instructions) you soon discover that you're on the planet Dendar, a beautifully multi-hued world full of more than mildly deadly alien beings. You have, it transpires, been sent there by the AMCCB (short for Astro Marine Corps Central Base, part of the SOKK Federation). Why? Because you're the hot poop leading light in the AMC (Astro Marine Corps), and their best hope in defending - the planet from the notorious Deathbringers, a collection of sprites so evil that they plan to take over the galaxy. Well, why not? It's early Sunday afternoon, everything's shut - what else is there to do? But you, poor fool, must turn off McCloud and go and stop them.
This broadly involves running along the usual scrolling course trying to kill everything that moves. There are an awful lot of nasties - Assault Troops, Killer Worms, KL-234 Robots, AT-140 Mines and even XIAROS birds, and that's just for starters. Although the instructions tell you what these things do, they don't tell you what each of them looks like, which means you just have to guess when one of them crops up, by which time you are usually DEAD.
Still, this makes for fast and action-packed gameplay, as Dinamic, after years of producing what essentially amounts to the same game, have refined it to a high art. Graphics are clear, colourful and quite hefty, while the actual game whiffles along at real speed. I'm not entirely convinced by the scrolling, which, when it moves up and down hills (hey, let's get multidimensional here) is a little jerky. But you soon get used to it. The game has many other odd idiosyncrasies - for instance, when you shoot your bullets on a level bit they'll carry on going level if the course slopes down. But if the course slopes up, the bullets follow it - which gives you a vital and entirely unfair advantage if you happen to be in a hollow.
Naturally the powers that be have left lots of goodies for you to collect - extra lives, more energy, better guns, shields. As you attempt to finish the first part of the game - yes, in true Dinamic tradition, this is a two-parter - you'll need every bit of help you can get, so don't spurn it. You'll also need a memory like an elephant's, because the controls - and we're only really talking about running, jumping, ducking and firing here - are devilishly complex. Want to advance shooting upwards? Then press Left or Right (whichever way you are going) and Fire, then Up and Fire, then Up. Or if you want to jump and shoot diagonal downward, press Left or Right and Up, then Fire and Down, releasing Up. Still, if you're still scratching your noggin over that, there's always the (newly translated) instructions to keep you amused. At one point, apparently, you'll be encountering AHE - or Authentically Huge Enemies, to you and me. And each version has been developed in full colour "without any mixage". "Phew!" is all I can say.
But the game, in the end, is so much like Army Moves, Freddy Hardest, Game Over and all the others that there's never any feeling that you're playing anything that you haven't seen a million times before. My guess is that it's not quite as hard as those earlier games - at least not at the beginning, where you are actually allowed to get beyond the first screen or so - but it's a refinement, not a development. What it desperately cries out for is an idea - just something new to lift it out of the morass of utter predictability. It's beautifully programmed, of course - Dinamic have improved enormously in this respect since their early titles - but it's desperately uninspired. Only if you're a hardened Dinamic fan (and you don't mind shelling out for the same game over and over again) should you really consider investing in it.
More colourful than Rainbow Islands! Tougher than Robocop! Worse scrolling than Great Giana Sisters! Astro Marine Corps can, at times be a bit of a slog, but should the discerning gamesplayer look beyond the utterly pooh-ey screen movement and the learn-the-hard-way gameplay, he'd find a pretty sound game.
As an Astro Marine, your mission is to liberate the planet Dendar from the evil forces of the Deathbringers, using your wide array of weaponry, missus. Not only do you have to contend with the enemy troops and machinery, but some decidedly unfriendly locals features too.
If you've previously experienced Dinamic's games, you'll know what to expect when it comes to gameplay. AMC is very difficult to begin with. Beyond a mere challenge, it sometimes becomes damned frustrating. There are countless incidents where the ground collapses under you, or a huge carnivorous plant suddenly appears and swallows you whole.
Since you can't see any of these pitfalls coming, the only way to progress is to blunder along and note where you get wiped out and remember to avoid it next time. Once you've memorized these insta-death situations, though, it's possible to avoid them every time, and concentrate on killing the mobile enemies.
Again, in keeping with Dinamic's style, the game is broken into two stages, allowing major number of complex and detailed alien attacks. The first stage is a rush toward the Deathbringer's ship. The second places you on their home ground, after a flight through space. Here you are offered the opportunity to wipe out the evil force once and for all.
Probably the most dangerous alien foes are the Yurk Snakes; like sandworms on steroids, they shoot about on the planet surface and will swallow you whole on contact. Since they come in waves, jumping over them can be darned tricky, and by the end of their onslaught, you'll be lucky if you've got any grenades (or legs) left.
It's a pleasant experience to get that feeling of wonder with each successive alien wave. On top of the desire to simply blast away the slimey suckers, you also become fuelled by the need to see what the next army of fiends looks like.
It certainly isn't a game for novices, and it's got some irritating features but if you're after a stiff challenge with lots of variety, this is the game fer you.
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
Spectrum Cassette: £9.95, Diskette: £14.95
At first I thought 'What the hell are Dinamic doing with Minter's Attack of the Mutant Camels?!' But this game's title actually stands for Astro Marine Corps, the army who have sent you to the planet Dendar in the SOKK Confederation to defeat those dreadful criminals, the Deathbringers (if I were you I'd duff over the prat who thought up these naff names). You have to fight through horizontally-scrolling areas with your rifles and grenades (and some help from God).
You can tell this is an iffy game even before it's loaded. The title screen isn't too badly drawn but colour has been spewed over the screen with complete disregard for the Spectrum's capabilities. The same goes for the game itself. Definition is rough anyway and two-plane parallax scrolling's jerky, but most noticeable are the many colours spread around - clash city (man).
Gameplay is awkward and remarkably mediocre, certain features/areas seemingly harmless until you touch/reach them (bit late by then). It's repetitive, cliched and unnecessarily difficult. Many better stroll-along shoot-'em-ups are available on budget.
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