Flippin' typical isn't it, you beat the aliens to a charred lump in one game and they or their relatives are back causing aggro in another. Take Vindicators for example, set in the year 2525 you're a brave space cadet on routine patrol when you encounter an alien fleet. Fourteen battle stations are just about to invade Earth - your job is to go through them one by one destroying the control centre of each.
One or two players can participate simultaneously in this battle to become the Earth' s saviour. And the first task is to decide whether to begin on level one, two or three (easy, difficult or simply impossible). Once this is settled it's on with the show, what's that?... what do you get for protection? Well, we ain't likely to send you out there with nothing. Cue vast SR88 Strategic Battle Tanks rumbling onto the scene. These mothers are heavily armed and armoured, and will stand up to most of the flak the aliens throw at you.
Yes, I'm afraid the aliens are heavily armed too. Battle tanks similar to ours patrol each level, and there's fixed gun emplacements, mines and force field generators. Another problem is that your tank guzzles a large amount of fuel (about five gallons to the mile) so look out for supplies or it's game over. Also littering the ground are stars - these can be traded at the end of the current level for a variety of custom weapons and add-ons.
Sad to say I'm not overly impressed by this, mainly because of the rather juddery scrolling and some graphical glitches, like seeing the floor tiles through your tank and blank spaces sometimes appearing on the tiles when objects are picked up. On the plus side the game is quite playable-the enemy tanks, turrets, mines etc present a stiff challenge, but there's nothing special here.
MARK … 59%
'This is the most boring game I've played for ages. The graphics are mundane and uninteresting, sound is minimal, and there is hardly any variation in the gameplay. As a full price game it is extremely poor value for money. It's very easy to play; one game can last for ages; so the addictivity is a tiny insignificant speck of nothingness. A definite no-no.'
MIKE … 39%
What? By who? No, it's not Vindicator, its Vindicators (lots of 'em), and this little title has nothing - nowt, nil, not a jot, zilcho - to do with Ocean's fabby title of last winter. Tengen, meanwhile, is the coin-op label - Atari by any other name - whose games are to be brought to the Spec by none other than Domark.
Confused? Yup, me too, but when you load this up, all it really boils down to is a rather dull tank battle game of a sort that we've seen four billion times before. It's a monochrome shoot 'em up (level one: green) in which you manoeuvre your tank about a vaguely futuristic scene (also green) and shoot any tanks that happen to come into range. Initially this looks terribly easy, as all the opposing tanks move very slowly. Unfortunately, your tank also moves slowly, as this is a very slow game. By the time you've changed direction to face him, the other geezer has probably hit you a few times - irritating. But pleasingly you only have to hit him three times or so in order to kill him, while you can withstand anything up to about 20 hits, as far as I can see.
The idea, as you move through three increasingly difficult levels (you can start on whichever one you wish) is to pick up the usual useful things lying around, to whit, fuel canisters (your tank uses about as much fuel as a 747) and battle stars, which, as you collect then, let you soup up your tank with loads of optional extras. There's increased shot range, increased shot power, increased shot speed, spankier shields, bombs and so on. What you really need, though, is an optional extra that gives you a faster, more interesting game - sadly, nothing so helpful is provided.
So once again the old coin-op problem has reared its ugly mush. On a coin-op Vindicators looks better and plays faster, but deprived of the 16-bitness of its speed and graphics we quickly discover that there's nothing much else there. There's no challenge, nothing to make you want to have just one more go, nothing except a drab, utterly mundane game that wouldn't make a splash if you dropped it in a pond. Which, to be honest, seems the best thing to do with it. (Tiny, non-splash-like sound.)
There - what did I tell you?
A conversion of the arcade tank battle game where you play to vin (ahem). Trapped on an invaded planet, you (and a pal, if available) have to trundle through umpteen eight-way scrolling mazes, shooting and dodging enemy tanks, laser bases, electric barriers etc. Your aim on each level is to grab the key to the next, but in the meantime you can snaffle stars to trade for power-ups.
Smooth graphics can't make up for dull gameplay, and to put by the rotate-and-move method (not altogether bad as you can reverse away and cover your escape) but, fatally, you can't move and change direction simultaneously. The two-player mode staves off the yawns a little longer - the one original feature (and a spanky one at that) is that you can shoot each other to transfer valuable fuel. At the end of the day though, Vindicators can be summed up in two words - both of them 'boring'.
AAAIIIEEE! Leap into your 26th century star battle tank, race through the terrifying battle-stations of the Tangent Empire and blast your way through endless hordes of fanatical enemy tanks blasting a swathe of death and destruction!
Sounds exciting, doesn't it? Well, that's just the trouble - it isn't. It's all rather slow and stately.
Vindicators is the first Spectrum game to appear on Domark's Tengen label, which is dedicated to converting Atari coin-op titles. It could have been a great start - maybe on other machines it is - but it just doesn't make it on the Spectrum.
Most of the features of the original coin-op are, of course, there. One or two players steer their futuristic battle tanks across a vertically-scrolling landscape of parallax lines. The aim is to get to the end of the level before the timer runs out. You have to pick up fuel stars to keep going, and collect weapon bonuses to upgrade your tank with extra shields, increased firing range, smart bombs and so on, in the inter-level swap shop. The mono backgrounds aren't particularly inspiring, even on the later levels when they feature rotating gun towers, electrical poles and starry chasms around which you have to steer.
Slightly better are the enemy tanks, which come in more assortments than there are Smarties in a tube. Some of them you can outrun, others you just have to gun down, as they follow you around firing at you. If you find the key to the next level, which is usually hidden somewhere near the door, you progress to the armament stage then the next of the fourteen levels.
So the basic plot is fine and some of the graphics are OK. Unfortunately the gameplay lets things down. It's just too slow - rather than zooming around dealing death and destruction, as you do on the coin-op, it's more a case of trudging around making a bit of a fuss. The explosions aren't impressive, the sound effects are merely adequate (which is a pity considering the amazing sound of the coin-op, though it's inevitable I suppose) and if the scrolling was peanut butter it would be crunchy rather than smooth.
Not a bad attempt, then, but a pity that such a promising format should turn into an unremarkable game.
Author: Consult Computer Systems
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
Aliens of the Tangent Empire are invading Earth! Annoyed at being lumped in with the Sines (and even worse, the Cosines), the Tangents are wreaking havoc throughout the world and have established 14 space stations and guess who has to triangulate in on all the action.
You have the unenviable task of pushing this alien scum back to where they came from. The lads and lasses in the SR-88 Battte Tanks - the hardest, toughest machines in existence. They must destroy each of the 14 space stations, along with any other alien craft along the way.
Vindicators is a one or two-player game in which the task is, enjoyably enough, to eradicate everything you come across. The graphics are top-notch, with everything easily identifiable on the screen. It's those little graphical touches that make this work, and the sonic side of things isn't shoddy either.
If blasting's your thang, give this a bang. For less than the price of a book, you really can't go wrong with this - a simple idea executed in a high quality fashion.
Destroying things is my idea of a good time (you should see my desk), so Vindicators is just the ticket. It may not hold your interest forever, but whilst it does you'll have a hoot.
Label: Hit Squad
Price: £3.99 Tape, N/A Disk
Reviewer: Matt Regan
GARTH: Up, up and away... or something like that. Vindicators is pretty damn wicked - give it a blast!
Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £8.99, Diskette: £14.99
With the Amstrad and ST conversions of Vindicators, Tengen's computer debut couldn't have been better. Sadly, the Spectrum is not the machine to show off Domark's newest licence. With just a monochrome display, the game quickly becomes tedious. Spectrum Vindicators is not helped by graphics, which are detailed enough, but lack variation. Considering the Amstrad version, a real disappointment.
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