We're off to burn rubber down that Alien Highway again so put on some C&W (Cannery and Wasteland) music as your tin trucker risks white line lever in an attempt to save the earth from that awful Alien aggressor.
At long last heres a sequel to the smash hit Highway Encounter and it too looks assured of a collision course with the top of the charts despite the fact that in many respects it's highly reminiscent of its predecessor.
Unlike last time though, your valiant Vorton, a sort of truncated Dalek, has no train of extra lives to guide through the pitfalls of the path. Instead thews a single Terratron to push before you, negotiating nasties and avoidinh obstacles as they obstruct your progress.
The eventual destination of this daring mission is the interior of the Alien Industrial Complex where - the blurb tells us - 'the Terratron will reveal its awesome power' which bodes well for the final screen. But before the secret can be revealed you face a journey down the highway to Hull (well, that's an industrial centre, isnt it?) so follow the yellow brick road.
Actually I've not noticed any primrose in the path yet but the monochrome graphics, seen from above, Ultimate style, are as effective as ever. You'll also meet some old fiends, as you glide along, in the shape of the 'orrible eyeball monsters. Something about the way they sneak and weave around, keeping out of your line of fire, makes them appear very much alive. Unlike these creepy, cowardly optician's nightmares, the angular kamikaze aliens rush in where eyeballs fear to tread and head straignt for you. Luckily you're well armed with a front firing laser and you'll need it.
Your journey isn't a short one but instead of finding Esso stations en route you'll encounter Terratron regeneration points. Drive the little doobrie through these - there are seven in all - keep it energized and win yourself a nice little power bonus into th bargain.
P'raps I'm just not the sort of pupil BSM would want but I must confess to finding the Vorton a veritable fiend to control. No stopping on a sixpence with this automaton since either momentum or slack keyboard responses mean that it's got a ticket to ride. On the whole there's more of the shoot 'em up about Encounter II than there was about its predecessor.
That said I still found it extremely addictive, despite the apparent lack of variety in the sections that make up the road. After all, when you've tackled one arrangement of obstacles you don't really want to go through the whole caboodle again, do you? Well, maybe you will with a game as good as this. For some reason I kept on returning to it and reloading to have just one more go. I still don't know what lies in wait for the finale but until I find out I'll just keep right on to the end of the road. Vroooom!
Spectrum & Amstrad
Spectrum: £7.95, Amstrad: £8.95
Having seen off the Aliens in Highway Encounter, you have decided to deal with the baddies at source. Once again you control the Vorton and must guide the ultimate weapon, the Terratron, up the highway. Naturally, the surroundings are then suitably abstract and alien and the baddies are faster and thicker on the ground.
Each time you play the game, the set-up is different. While sometimes that leads to virtually impossible situations, it prevents boredom. You have to energise your Terratron, which you are pushing up the highway. That also re-energises your Vorton, to replace energy lost by collision with the border and the aliens. After a dearth of good Spectrum releases, this will be up there with the rest of the recent surge.
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