Slap Fight

by Probe Software Ltd: Nick Bruty
Imagine Software Ltd
Crash Issue 43, August 1987   (1987-07-30)   page(s) 20

Passing over Orac in the Slapfighter, a multidirectional starcraft, you are attacked by aliens. Their weapons home in on the Slapfighter, so constant movement above the vertically scrolling surface of the planet is essential if you're not to become easy meat. (The spacecraft has four lives.)

For protection the fighter carries a forward-aiming blaster, and more weapons can be added by flying over the stars revealed when certain aliens are destroyed.

Other advantages - extra speed, side fire, bombs, homing missiles, a temporarily protective shield, and a wing unit that improves fire power but increases the craft's size and vulnerability - can also be picked up.

Destroying the aliens and their works earns points, as astute readers might have predicted.

Control keys: definable
Joysticks: Kempston, Sinclair, Cursor
Use of colour sparse
Graphics: reasonable, but the attacking missiles are nearly invisible
Sound: uninteresting spot FX
Skill levels: one
Screens: continuously scrolling landscape

'For all its colour and effects the coin-op Slap Fight didn't excite me, but the Spectrum version seems better - though still nothing miraculous. Frustration can kill off enjoyment, because the bullets are difficult to detect (because of monochromatic graphics) and death may arrive at any moment. But if you can handle that, Slap Fight is addictive and should appeal to fans of the arcade game. And it has beautifully defined graphics with smooth scrolling, though the sound is weak - even on a 128K.' RICKY

'There's only one fault I could find with Slap Fight: you can't see the pesky bullets. The shading on the intricately detailed landscape is superb, and with the super-smooth scrolling makes a very attractive game. The playability is improved by extremely accurate collision-detection and the chance to control your ship at your own speed. The weapons are fun and the aliens move beautifully in excellent formations - Slp Fight is certainly one of this month's most addictive blast-up games.'

'Slap Fight is an extremely dubious shoot-'em- up. It looks like Probe Software used the same code for the scroll and the score line as they did for Xevious - but like that US Gold game, this has poor graphics. Slap Fight becomes frustrating because the enemy missiles are so difficult to see - it's very easy to die with no idea how it happened! Incidentally, if you choose SPACE as the fire key you can't choose another select key, which means every time you fire the computer selects the current option. Annoying. Slap Fight is a disappointment, but fans of the Spectrum Xevious conversion might find it reasonable.'

Presentation: 66%
Graphics: 78%
Playability: 74%
Addictiveness: 70%
Overall: 72%

Summary: General Rating: Above average, standard shoot-'em-up.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 80, September 1990   (1990-08-23)   page(s) 47

Here's an old shoot-'em-up that uses the 'build up on your weaponry' method of play. Shoot the oncoming alien swarms and collect the bonus stars that appear after an enemy ship has been destroyed - these supply such glorious things as lasers, shields and a side shot!

Slap Fights real problem is too much detail in the background - intricate and the same colour as the fighter itself - which makes playing unenjoyable as you can't see what's going on. A bit of animation would have helped but each sprite stays exactly the same throughout.

Sounds are few and when you do hear something it isn't worth the wait, just a couple of puny effects when you fire or get shot and no tune on the title screen.

A very run of the mill shoot-'em-up: the gameplay has been copied so many times in other games you wonder why they keep producing them! Thumbs down.

Overall: 41%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 21, September 1987   page(s) 66

Imagine has gone careering into the arcades and emerged clutching the rights to Taito's Slap Fight, a game that'll be a slap in the face to all those Commodore owners who say the Speccy can't produce the really smooth-scrolling shoot-'em ups that their own favourite machine has got coming out of its portholes.

You are the pilot of the Slapfighter, which sounds a bit limp-wristed to me, but there's nothing limp-wristed about the action as you try to "destroy the evil alien swarms which confront you, wave after deadly wave on the ever hostile planet of Orac." Well that's what it says here, and for once it happens to be true.

You'll need a Kempston, Sinclair or Cursor joystick, because although you can use the keyboard and redefine it to suit yourself, anyone who wants to try controlling eight way movement plus two other keys is welcome to have a go, but when your fingers drop off please don't send them to us.

The surface of the planet Orac scrolls down the screen at you, and you can move in all directions but at first you can only fire a few blasts forward. The Orac nasties have the advantage of you there, as they can fire in all directions when they appear on the screen - and believe me, they will. Some of the missiles they send out are of the homing variety, so you've got to keep moving and try and out-dodge them. When you zap your first Orac heavy, those of you with your eyes open will notice that it turns into a star. This brings us to the eight headings that go down the side of the screen.

The eight headings cover extra add-ons that you can earn for your Slapflghter, and once you've flown over a star then a marker appears against the first word, SPEED. Choose this by pressing the space bar and you increase your speed by five times. If you don't choose it then the next time you fly over a star the marker moves down a notch to SHOT, and so on through SIDE, WING, BOMB, LAZER, HOMING MISSILES and SHIELD. Once you've chosen your extra thingy, the marker disappears and then starts over again going round and round for ever more.

Thats the basics, and you can work out what most of the add-ons are, so how about the game? Well, fast isn't the word. Furious, maybe that's the word. Frantic and fantastic, they're also pretty good words. One word I can't use in a respectable magazine like YS is the one I'd use to describe the aliens. They appear slowly at first, then in larger numbers, and they can spit missiles back at you even as they're about to disappear off the foot of the screen, and these missiles can be homing ones - oooh, I got really cross.

The game really becomes a fast-zap once you've got your homing missiles, as they even up the odds a little bit, and as you get further into the Orac defences the variety of aliens change, and you even get some ginormous ones which seem to ignore conventional shots and I haven't yet worked out whether they need to be seen off with lasers or bombs. But when you get this far, and you get parted from one of your five lives, you resume playing on the same screen but lose all your add-ons. Boo-hoo, I thought, as my precious homing-missiles bit the dust, leaving me surrounded by mobs of very heavy nasties.

There are a few complaints, which I suppose is natural otherwise no-one would believe you when you said how great the game was. One you can't really blame Imagine for, is that the Spectrum desperately needs a space bar you can whack when you've got the option you want all ready to be chosen, as my own old rubbery space key didn't exactly give the instant response that you need. I even tried putting the machine on the floor and operating SPACE with my big toe (stop sniggering!) but that wasn't a total success.

The other problem is that it's often hard to pick out the enemy missiles against the very detailed background, and you suddenly find yourself disintegrating for no apparent reason. But I suppose it all adds to the fun and the amount of cursing that goes on - and one or two players can swear at Slap Fight. All I can swear is that if you buy it you won't regret it.

Graphics: 9/10
Playability: 8/10
Value For Money: 8/10
Addictiveness: 9/10
Overall: 9/10

Summary: A zappin', rappin' fast moving shoot 'em up. One of the best I've seen, and I've seen lots!

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 56, August 1990   page(s) 76

It's amazing the difference a couple of years can make. When Slapfight first came out it was hailed as an enormous advance - a shoot-'em-up that was both fast and nice to look at, one that finally ditched the longstanding notion that no-one could produce a really smooth scrolling blaster on the Beloved Beermat. Of course, since then, every software company worth the name has produced about half a dozen of the things, most of them identical, and in 1990 Slapfight hasn't quite the same novelty. But that doesn't stop it being a cracking little game.

It's the usual old Uridium-style thing - you're skimming the surface of a planet (this time called Orac), blasting everything you can. When you zap some of the little blighters stars appear which you collect to give your ship extra capabilities (where would we be without those extra capabilities?). These include Speed (essential if you're planning to stay alive). Wing (makes your ship three times the size and three tines as zapful), Lazer (projects an invisible beam in front of your craft) and H Miss (missiles which home in on all targets). Hardly original, yes, but extremely effective. It's starts hard and gets harder, and it's been so beautifully thought-out that anyone who knows their shoot-'em ups will find it hard to stay away. Taito designed the original coin-op, Imagine converted it for the Spectrum - a useful little bargain at £2.99.

Overall: 82%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 65, August 1987   page(s) 78,79

Listen. I'm quite prepared to die. I mean, I can admit to an error. If I couldn't hack it with the joystick - call me a dodo. If I didn't read the instructions properly - I'm a nerd. Maybe I didn't master the strategic intricacies - call me dumb but here's one thing: I DONT WANT TO DIE BECAUSE I CAN'T SEE THE DAMN BULLETS. IT'S JUST UNFAIR.

That in a nutshell - is the big problem with Slap Fight. Otherwise it's really got a lot going for it. Excellent coin-op original, neat game ideas, very detailed and smoothly scrolling graphics, even the sound is OK.

But because of the graphic detail the display is two-colour black-and-white only (apart from twiddly bits like the score) small objects can sometimes be very hard to see. Under the general category of small objects come enemy bullets. This means that half the time your Slapfighter (a disappointingly unimpressive name) explodes in a ball of flames for no apparent reason whatsoever. I felt disappointed. Depressed even.

In all other respects Slap Fight is grade A prime material. The thing that separates this particular kill and dodge extravaganza from others is a weapon select system based on collecting stars. The more stars you collect the greater (roughly) the power of your defensive systems. You get stars by destroying particular aliens or groups of aliens. One star buys you 'speed' and you can shunt your spaceship over the screen at about twice the usual speed, larger numbers of stars win you gigantic wings which quadruple your fire power (but make you easier to hit) or incredible enemy- seeking missiles which whizz around the screen like, um, well just like guided bullets hitting targets really.

The skill comes in deciding what weapons to select where - you don't have to select the current system on offer, you can elect to wait and collect more stars for something better (it's a lot like Green Shield Stamps actually) or even, under some circumstances, something worse. This is not as dumb as it sounds - some of the earlier options may be more useful in some circumstances. For example I found lots of use for the homing missiles and not much for the temporary invincibility shield which makes you impregnable for a while but takes you back to weapons Stage 1 when your time runs out. Maybe I just like watching things explode.

The background is the usual abstract industrial landscape - geometric buildings, the odd road, runway and gun installation. The baddies are, to begin with, round and boring (later on they look like rather nasty but small flies). At certain points you get a very large and seemingly ferocious alien to deal with. Though disturbing in many ways, it responded pleasingly to a quick burst of laser fire and exploded.

I almost think this game is great except that, since half the time I can't see the alien bullets, death came as a particularly bitter blow. It may turn out to be a matter of our very average TV and may be fine on a nice crisp monitor but my betting is most people out there have average TVs and will suffer similarly.

Lots of good points for Slap Fight then but beware of invisible bullets.

Label: Ocean
Author: Probe
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

Overall: 7/10

Summary: Generally a fine conversion from an excellent original coin-op. But watch out for those invisible bullets!

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 101, July 1990   page(s) 62,63

Slapfight! Wotta classic! I can't remember whether it was actually an SU Classic (TM), but it's certainly a they-don't-make-them-like-that-any-more type title which should appear in everyone's collection. This budget re-release is the ideal opportunity.

Slapfight was one of the original weapon-collecting shoot-'em-ups; unlike later titles such as R-Type, it's vertically-scrolling, but the Spectrum version is creditably fast and furious, and the assortment of aliens is well hard.

It's like this. You pilot the Slapfighter (stupid name, great little ship) as it weebles around the vertically-scrolling monochrome background which fills up two-thirds of the screen. Waves of aliens attack from all directions - the attack waves are very predictable, so part of the challenge is just learning the patterns. The backgrounds feature enormous fortifications, walkways and ramparts, but there are no obstacles to crash into, just furiously-firing aliens. Keep moving to avoid their fire, zap them and pick up any stars which appear. As you collect more of these, the feature indicator at the side of the screen increments; hit the space bar to activate the feature. You should definitely activate a couple of SPEED icons, but any more than that and your ship seems to fly around the screen uncontrollably.

Other icons include a side-gun which shoots sideways, a wing-gun which adds powerful forward-firing missiles, a forward-firing bomb, a long -range laser, and my favourite, the homing missile. Select this and up to eight missiles at a time burst from your ship and demolish anything on screen - trouble is, you can't fire again until all the missiles have found a target.

There's also a defensive screen which lasts for a variable time depending on how many hits you sustain.

There are some fab end-of-level guardians, the first one of which is pretty slow and lumbering and easy to take out. There are also despicable little scuttlers which run along platforms and shoot you from junctions unless you pick them off first.

Adequate bleepy sound and a two-player option add up to a real bundle of fun. Get it at once.

Label: Hit Squad
Price: £2.99
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

Graphics: 68%
Sound: 67%
Playability: 89%
Lastability: 90%
Overall: 89%

Summary: Classic shoot-em-up action; miss this and you're a dead anchovy.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 104, July 1990   page(s) 66

Hit Squad
Spectrum/C64 £2.99

Hands up all you lot who thought Orac was the little, electronic talking box from Blake's Seven. Wrong! Well, technically you're absolutely right, but not in this case. Orac is, in fact, an enemy planet which you, in your Slap Fighter, must penetrate and crush into little pieces before the armies stationed there assemble and launch an all-out assault on Mother Earth. Cripes! And with only a measly little peashooter of a gun to fight with, you're gonna wish you ate four Shredded Wheat this morning! But don't get too worried, as you can collect extra weapons too and equipment along the way - whew! Well, what can one say about this genre that hasn't been said before - vertically scrolling, weapon-collecting, end-of-level guardian blasting, mindless shoot 'em up action? Not a lot really, except that this one's better than a lot which you'll see at budget price, with pretty spaceships and backdrops, lots of colour and generally rock-hard gameplay which'll glue you to your swivelly chair. In all, not bad at all.

Overall: 60%

Summary: Hmm, not as hot, this version. The game's the same, only the graphics are monochrome yellow, and that's just the job for the fabled disease, invisible Bullet Syndrome.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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