by Charles Davies, James Bagley, Keith Tinman, Bob Wakelin
Ocean Software Ltd
Crash Issue 71, Dec 1989   page(s) 66,67

Ocean/Special FX
£8.99 cass, £14.99 disk

As with many of these 'Arnie Schwarzenegger/Green Beret chappie yomps across enemy terrain'style blast-'em-up's the plot is simple: a foreign country is causing a bit of aggro, and wanting to avoid full-scale war our lad is sent into dish out death and mayhem and destroy the enemy from within.

Armed with a gun (supplied with unlimited ammo), and a very limited supply of grenades to take out tanks, choppers, walls and groups of people, he fights his way across twenty single screen levels. Our hero moves left and right across screen, the gun and grenades are aimed with a cursor. Blasting larger targets occasionally awards icons which when collected bestow bonus points or more powerful weapons (although these are lost when you die).

With each enemy killed a bar gradually fills with red, and when it is full the current level ends, and you can carry on and be nasty to another screen ful lof enemy soldiers. The action in Cabal isn't fast enough to watch the groups of soldiers blasting at you on one side of the screen whilst grenading a tank on the other. Bricks and mortar provide a certain amount of protection against the blood thirsty hordes. Ocean don't pretend that this game is anything but an Operation Wolf clone, but if you like the idea of Operation Thunderbolt, make sure you get this one too.

MARK [90%]

It's often said that first impressions can be deceptive (even if at other times they last!) and this is true for Cabal. At first glance and even when watching someone play the game it seems a rather sedate, over-simplified Op Wolf, but real excitement is generated when you're actually at the joystick. Part of the game's appeal are its graphics, parts of scenery arranged carefully so there's plenty of colour on-screen and, best, lots of soldiers muting around. They're really very cartoon-like, short, with big clown feet, and walk with amusingly exaggerated steps. The main sprite isn't as fun but is as bulky and powerful-looklng as the tanks, planes and 'copters. If you're an Op Wolf fan - and have any money left after buying Operation Thunderbolt - spend it on this!
NICK [91%]

Presentation: 82%
Graphics: 85%
Sound: 73%
Playability: 82%
Addictivity: 84%
Overall: 91%

Summary: A classy coin-op conversion full of mindless but highly addictive action.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 93, Oct 1991   page(s) 60

The Hit Squad

Good lord! There are plenty of these 'small country-causing-loadsa-aggro' games around, aren't there viewers? Another Operation Wolf/Thunderbolt 'shoot-anything-that-moves' game is here on re-release - it's Cabal.

You are volunteered to enter enemy territory with nowt but a machine gun, a handful of grenades and a large amount of guts (or, if you prefer, stupidity) to battle through the 20 single screens that make up the game.

You begin each section with a view of your character looking up the screen. There are buildings and walls, from behind which the enemy forces leap to spray the area with lead.

The most sensible thing is to return fire, and this is indeed what you can do (with great effect). Firstl, with your machine gun, then with the really big and powerful weapon pick-ups that are at your disposal.

Originally released at the same time as Op Thunderbolt and sadly overshadowed, Cabal isn't quite as slick as Thunderbolt, but it's just as playable. But then, I love a good shoot-'em-up: the more violent it is the better! Cabal certainly delivers the goods.

Presentation: 89%
Graphics: 87%
Sound: 85%
Playability: 90%
Addictivity: 92%
Overall: 90%

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 47, Nov 1989   page(s) 84,85

£9.99 cass/£14.99 disk
Reviewer: Jonathan Davies

A 'cabal', as any fule kno, is a secret plot, esp. a political one. Which is probably why this game is called Cabal, because it features you in the role of a mega-hero sent out to foil a terrorist plan by blowing the little beggars away. In other words - dakkadakkadakka splat argh ar'm hit neow blam and so on.

Operation Wolf is obviously the inspiration behind Cabal, although the new game builds heavily on the original and requires a more subtle playing technique. Rather than viewing the battlefield through a scrolling window, you see it one screen at a time, if you see what I mean. No? Sigh. Cabal consists of 20 screens, split up into five levels of four screens each. (The levels multiload on 48K.) Before you can move on to the next screen you must blow away a certain number of baddies, and much of the scenery as well if you want to. The computer then flips you to the next screen where you must do much the same thing. And so on. At the end of each level there's a horrid big Daddy which must be knocked out before you can progress.

Other differences are that instead of merely moving your gunsight around and shooting things you've got to keep an eye on your little guy at the bottom of the screen. Every so often you have to stop shooting and move him out of the way of the bullets, grenades, bombs and stuff that are hurled at him by the enemy. The way it works is that when you hold down fire and move the joystick the gunsight moves and the bloke stands still, and when you're not pressing fire the chap wanders around from left to right. You'll find you'll need to do about half and half. There are also grenades and add-on weapons to collect (a machine gun, which fires much faster than the usual one and clears the whole screen in about three seconds, and a bazooka which marmalises vast chunks of the enemy with one shot). The scenery acts as cover which either you or the terrorists can hide behind until it gets 'crumbled'.

The game follows the coin-op original extremely closely, although the graphics are more cartoony, Spectrumy (which figures) and nicer I think. Just about everything from the coin-op is here, including the lethal helicopters which hover above you dealing death and the massive end-of-level baddies which are highly imaginative and very tough to deal with. It also plays just like the original - tough, but not so hard that you get stuck on the first level for ages.

Cabal is without a doubt (not even a teeny little one) one of the finest conversions I've ever seen. It recreates the coin-op's atmosphere of total death and destruction perfectly, making it one of the ultimate Speccy shoot-'em-ups. It's miles better than Op Wolf, light years in fact, parsecs almost. It's great.

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Life Expectancy: 92%
Instant Appeal: 95%
Graphics: 93%
Addictiveness: 94%
Overall: 93%

Summary: A truly maaaaarrvellous coin-op conversion which will be the source of immense pleasure to those with a bloodthirsty streak. A 'must'.

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 70, Oct 1991   page(s) 61


Most of JON PILLAR's friends are old speccy games. No one else really understands him...

Hit Squad
Reviewer: Jon Pillar

Rip your shirt and bare your teeth cos here's another of those gritty Op-Wolfish shoot-'em-up. Actually, that was a bit of a lie - although you do get a roving gunsight (as in Wolf), you also get to leg it away from enemy bullets. Hurrah! Each of the 20 (multiloaded) levels sees you scampering across the bottom of the screen, armed with a machine-pistol (with unlimited ammo), a few grenades, whatever power-ups you can blag, and biceps that knock down walls. The rest of the playing area is stuffed full of foot soldiers, tanks, trucks, helicopters and scenery (which hides a few bad guys). You can hide behind the scenery on your bit of the screen too (well until it all gets blasted away, that is!).

Graphically, Cabal has gone for the chunky and colourful look, and everything's surprisingly clear despite the amount of blazing mayhem. Frantic fun at first, the gameplay does get somewhat repetitive, but it's a short-term stonker, and a great game to dip into (which considering it's basically Space Invaders with muscles, is quite an achievement really).

Overall: 81%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 91, Oct 1989   page(s) 8,9

Label: Ocean
Author: In-house
Price: £8.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Garth Sumpter

You've oggled at Operation Wolf, thrilled at Thunderbolt and now it's time to got cookin' with Cabal, the very latest trigger pullin', all action shoot-em-up, blow-em-to-bits, rip their limbs off and beat them to death with the wet end game from Ocean. In Cabal, you are a ferociously brave/mad/stupid soldier with the unenviable task of single handedly wiping out anything that moves, breathes or looks even slightly dangerous.

You control our fearless hero, who jealously guards his territory which is the bottom of the screen. On each of the five levels there are four stages, each one progressively harder than the last, and a true testing ground for all you trainee Rambos. So.. clenching your gun tightly in your sweaty little mitt, the game begins. Each scene depicts a battle scenario, and our lone maverick must clear each screen of all enemies before progress to the next level. To do this he employs all his skill, training and judgement and using his trusty rifle and the oh so few grenades that his mum remembered to pack, he must fight the foe.

Control is selectable at the menu but the joystick will move him left and right to avoid enemy fire; a quick stab on the fire button will release a hail of bullets and a cross hair moves across the screen if he is shooting.

Unfortunately, whilst he's shooting up the enemy, he can't move but his sights do. So watch out for stray enemy bullets because in non-Rambo fashion this man won't shoot on the move!

If things get a little hectic then a quick stab of the space bar will unleash a grenade into the midst of the action in the general direction of the old sights again. In Cabal, you can hide behind scenery in the foreground to avoid some enemy fire, but beware! Even walls are only temporary with the amount of fire power available, but it's always a good idea a to let the enemy destroy any cover - try not to blow it away yourself, after all bravery is one thing that would be stupeed! Especially as you only start off with four lives and only one hit means instant death - well whatcha expect? Dis is war ya wimp!

Whatsat you say? Gimme some motha of a gun and I'll show yo who's boss around here. S'easy.

Every now and then someone's untimely demise will make you the of a piece of hardware that will send the enemy scurrying for cover.

A machine gun, a bazooka a (kaa boom!) and spare grenades all fall to the bottom of the screen on the obliteration of random targets. These you must pick up quickly as you can't leave things lying around on a battlefield. The machine gun and bazooka last about 20 seconds and come in useful on anything above level one stage three when enemy soldiers are accompanied by tanks and lorries. The lorries are bringin' yet more troops, so try to get them before they unload. Ten hits to destroy, but one grenade and two bazooka rounds will despatch them with a firey exit. Also, the bazooka and grenades have a larger area of affect so they can take out several of the opposition if you're in a tight spot.

On the later levels , helicopters begin to hail bullets at you so it's always a good idea to take them out if you can and enemy commandos will start to hurl grenades (and you though you had the mega death monopoly). If you can't hit them before they throw, then shoot the grenades out of the air or get moving!

The state of play is displayed at the bottom of the screen, with a blue star showing the number of enemies lefty to kill on our present level. Once this has turned completely red you can advance to your next position. At the end of each level there is a tough guy to deal with, so if you're lucky and still have a bazooka or machine gun you can blast him to smithreens! If not, then it's back to ducking and diving. Once yer dead, yer dead. Or are you? There is a continue option that can be used once and once only to just peek ahead a bit, or just push up your high score on the table.

A great game for fight fans with large levels of death and destruction. On later levels there's a lot moving on the screen but sprites are well defined and are not lost in the colourful backdrops.

The game progresses nicely with each subsequent stage being show in the distance from the stage that you're currently working on. It adds little to the game but shows the amount of detail that's gone into the graphics. Well done everyone at Special FX, you can paint my wall anytime. And as for the game?

A winner, and for anyone that plays the arcade version, definitely worth all the money you've no doubt already fed into the coin slot at the local amusements.

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Graphics: 88%
Sound: 63%
Playability: 83%
Lastability: 80%
Overall: 84%

Summary: A good conversion with excellent graphics.

Award: Sinclair User Classic

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 116, Oct 1991   page(s) 40

Label: Hit Squad
Memory: 48K/128K
Price: £3.99 Tape, N/A Disk
Reviewer: Steve Keen

What do you get when you cross Operation Wolf with Commando? One mean mutha of a shoot 'em up that goes by the name of Cabal, that's what. An' I can tell ya somethin' fer nuthin' pilgrims, you're gonna need every Armalite you can lay yer hands on if yer gonna break this son of a gun!

Cabal is five different levels of combat divided into four sub levels - each level jam-packed with tanks, helicopters, planes and of course machine gun fodder for you to carve up and spit out all over the 20 battle zones.

The main sprite lurks at the bottom of the screen moving from left to right as your joystick dictates. Just above his head is a big cross hair that moves around the war arena highlighting your chosen targets. When the fire button is held down the joystick moves your sight and when released, movement returns to the veteran. Nice, simple stuff eh?

During the game the marauding soldiers throw up all manner of objects including extra guns, lives and bombs, but be careful because they also darken the skies with lobbed grenades that lie dormant for a few seconds before attempting to spread you all over the war theatre!

Precautions against premature death can be taken by simply hiding behind walls and barrels and firing from safety. After you complete each four levels it's time to face the real toughies and a surprise 'guardian'.

Cabal's game play is very simple, but equally addictive. Some great sound of machine gun fire and explosions make it entertaining enough to persevere through a slightly muddled playing area. The graphics are well animated with nice colours, even if the soldiers are a little bland, and slick. A very entertaining game and recommended buying - go for it!

Take a well-tired game style and you have a great game, you can't say fairer than that! Cabal is blastin' mahhhn!

Graphics: 76%
Sound: 78%
Playability: 79%
Lastability: 79%
Overall: 80%

Summary: Good scrolling and control make Cabal easy to play, lack of definition of the main sprite doesn't. Still great fun and worth a buy.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 98, Jan 1990   page(s) 56

Ocean/Special FX
Spectrum £8.99, C64 £9.99

Ever felt the need for a spot of psychotic, no-holds-barred death and destruction on a grand scale? Well Ocean's conversion of the fab Cabal coin-op has all that and more.

The scenario, if that's what you can call it, entails one or two crack commandos sneaking behind enemy lines with the objective of doing as much damage as is humanly possible. The enemy stronghold is made up of five war zones, each containing four areas. Packing a powerful sub-machine gun and nine anti-personnel grenades, the heroes simply have to destroy a set number of a targets on each screen before moving onto the next.

There are loads of things to blast - foot patrols, tanks, military personnel carriers and helicopter gunships, each armed with devastating artillery which includes galling guns, grenades and bombs. When some enemy targets are destroyed, bonus items such as supplies of grenades and mega-machine guns are left behind and can be picked up by the player and added to his armoury.

After every four screens you confront a huge ammunition-spewing military vehicle which requires many direct hits before it explodes, clearing the path to the next zone.

Finding that the simultaneous two-player option of the arcade game has been dropped is a disappointment, but its thankfully made up for by stonking gameplay which requires great hand-to-eye reflexes to get rid of the baddies while, at the same time, avoiding the frightening return fire being sent in your direction - the action is amazingly frantic!

Cabal is an addictive blast which is best likened to Operation Wolf but without the scrolling. Fans of the coin-op will be well chuffed with this conversion, as will arcade addicts who crave for a bit of meat in their games.

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Overall: 62%

Summary: Although C64 Cabal relies more on its frenetic gameplay than fancy graphics, lousy choice of colour and "invisible bullet syndrome" make for a poor Spectrum conversion. Recommended to arcade addicts with 20/20 vision only.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

The Games Machine Issue 25, Dec 1989   page(s) 78

Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £8.99, Diskette: £14.99
Commodore 64/128 Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99


Ever heard of TAD Corporation? Probably not, but if you've played this coin-op you may recall that they are arcade game manufacturers, this being their highest profile machine so far. The plot leaves something to be desired: it's the usual story of an experienced US commando being held in high regard by his peers and so being selected for a special mission. The Enemy are making a nuisance of themselves but are prepared for a full-scale attack so it's up to him to go it alone and destroy them from within.

In each of the 20 single-screen levels you guide the commando left and right in front of a perspective scene of pan of the enemy's base. A gunsight cursor has the freedom of the playing area and is used to gun down any enemy soldiers who dare show themselves. Bullets are unlimited but there are a handful of grenades, also aimed with the cursor, which can be used on tanks, planes, helicopters, buildings and, if you're particularly nasty, bunches of people.

Icons released from the remains of such larger targets can be collected for extra points, grenades, a bazooka or machine gun. The latter weaponry is lost whenever a life is, but walls act as shields against the relentless hail of bullets.

As enemies are maimed a blue bar gradually turns red; when it's full the screen and scene is completed.

Cabal is quite a surprise. Though it's essentially a static screen Operation Wolf and appears plain when watching someone play it, it's quite deceptive. The adrenalin soon gets flowing as you shoot out soldiers while dodging their fire, and its this duality that makes it so exciting: at the middle and top of the screen you have to get them in your sights and blow them away as quickly as possible while making sure you, at the bottom of the screen, don't get hit yourself. Two eyes are not enough!

Destroying tanks and aircraft also forces a battle on two fronts: just as you've lined it up, ready to launch a grenade with the space bar, you see a bullet heading straight for you and have to abandon your plans. Even without heavy artillery, just taking out the soldiers is tough enough. You find yourself dashing frantically from one side to another, gambling whether you can safely pass by an approaching missile, and pushing the fire button like mad - it really puts your index finger to the test!

Operation Wolf/Thunderbolt fans are sure to warm to this and indeed other gamesplayers will like its direct combat too. There's no depth or sophistication to Cabal, just fast, non-stop action and a hell of a lot of bullets flying around, but it's more than enough to keep you playing - it can be as addictive as the Ops, which is surely recommendation enough for purchase.

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Overall: 86%

Summary: The Spectrum's options and hi-score screens immediately attract attention, a rainbow of colours pulsating through the text, rushing outwards from the centre of the screen. The game screens are laid out carefully so that, although clash is not defied, different areas have their own colours, so that on certain levels there are five different colours on the playing area. Like the Commodore, backgrounds aren't detailed but are functional, although bullets can sometimes get lost in the monochrome. Sprites are very cartoon-like; soldiers have huge clown feet and stroll around jauntily and the main sprite is a bulky, mean-looking dude. The tanks move very quickly but bullets come in from less diverse angles than the Commodore, although there's a sting in the tail: when a life is lost your enemy-meter goes down, giving you some unwelcome extra work before the level can be completed. However, the satisfaction on doing that easily makes it all worthwhile so you're sure to keep playing and playing.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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