£8.99 cass/£12.99 disk
Reviewer: Ciaran Brennan
'Son of a gun!' Problem? Yeah, Mac, I'll say we've gotta problem? I need a pilot, Purple Heart and all that - yeah another Tom Cruise you might say ('cept he ain't born yet) - to go on a suicidal solo mission over Jap-land (ptui!) and guess what? Captain Scarletjaw has gone to London to get in the way of commuters, talk loudly and take pictures of the GPO tower - that means we ain't got nobody with an ego big enough to go. Hey, your head's a little on the swollen size, d'ya fancy biting the dust - as a hero mind - over the south Pacific in your lil' ol' Mustang? Yo Mac! You've gone blue as blueb'ry moonshine. That's a pretty good goddamn idea, now the slants won't be able to see ya up in the sky. Good initiative, Mac, damn good initiative.
And that's the story: a mad suididal mission across crazy enemy terrain, resisting attack from psycho pilots - a bit nutty really. Yes, it's another monochrome vertically scrolling shoot 'em up - not in space or in the orbit of the mechanical planet 'Sheapdro Ping' this time, but above the clouds in down town 'I'm gonna' wash that man right outa ma hair' land.
The landscape oozes downwards (it's slow y'see) while you, a spanking double-engined bomber plane, cut a swathe through attacking waves of enemy fighters and resist attacks from yellow aircraft carriers. At the end of each section there's a massive bomber to blam out of the sky, and then, when you reach the end of the level, there's a mega-big bomber to blow up which is so huge it can hardly move. To help you in your awesome task are the occasional extra-weapon icons (surprise, surprise) obtained by shooting the occasional enemy fighter. These add-ons can be anything from extra-energy to double firepower or spraying bullets. Good eh?
Well, yes and no. The graphics are good, clear crisp military fighter-plane graphics, and the big-bomber is very realistic and vivid. The scenic 'over cloud' view graphics are a bit bland and the steady blue/white monochrome doesn't help. The fighters move in straightforward patterns, simple and easy to anticipate. The only one that gave me real hassle was the figure-of-eight path.
But where the game really falls down is on gameplay. Not because the responses are sluggish, or the enemy too fast, but because the game is soooooo easy. I didn't even break out in a sweat or swear once as I annihilated the enemy. Either this game is a cinch or I'm an expert gamesplayer with split-second reflexes and psychic anticipation. Make your own decision. And remember... never give a Kit Kat an even break.
Another delve into the recesses of Speccy softstuff with Dr Marcus "stand very still and try not to scream" Berkmann.
Reviewer: Marcus Berkmann
"A novel approach to a shoot-'em-up," we said last time round. (At least I assume we did - that's what it claims on the cassette inlay.) Personally I've not seen this before - I've heard of it on reputation - and in fact I was a little disappointed. Taking the vertically-scrolling shooter format, Capcom adapted it to a World War II scenario, and the Battle Of Midway in particular. Not heard of the Battle Of Midway? Tut tut. Charlton Heston was in it, as any fule kno. In this version there aren't any ships as such, just loadsa planes, one of which is yours and the rest Japanese. Unfortunately they're not of a kamikaze inclination, and are just as keen as you to stay alive, but unlike you they have only one life (you seem to have loads), which is rather tough luck on them. This interesting new angle aside, though, what we have here is very much a standard shoot-'em-up. Knock down the waves, collect extra weapons, then, after you've disposed of all the little nasties, a great mothership turns up and fires billions of bullets at you. Sounds familiar? It's only the plot for every shooter in the past four years, that's all, and 1943 (not forgetting the ™ - this year's got a copyright on it, folks) differs from it not a jot. Fab, therefore, if you've always wanted to play a space zapper in World War II clothing, but rather dull if you were looking for, say, a new idea. Nicely programmed, but in this case that's not enough.
THE COMPLETE YS GUIDE TO SHOOT-'EM-UPS PART 1
Where'd we all be without shoot-'em-ups, eh, Spec-chums? Well, we'd all have much smaller games collections, that's for sure! Join MATT BIELBY for an epic blast through nearly a decade of firepowered Spec-fun...
Blimey! The complete guide to shoot-'em-ups, eh? A bit of a mammoth task you might be thinking (and you'd be blooming right! It's taken me absolutely ages!). It's so blinking gigantic in fact that we've had to split it in two to save the whole ish from being packed to the gills with ancient shooty-shooty games and very little else!
So how's it all going to work? Well, this issue we spotlight those hundreds of games where you control a little spaceship, aeroplane or what have you, while next time round we'll be wibbling on for ages about those blasters where you command a man, creature or robot - things like Operation Wolf, Gryzor, Robocop (the list is endless, I'm sorry to say). Yes, I know it's a bit of an arbitrary way to divide the whole subject up in two, but it's the best I could come up.
Anyway, if you 're all ready, let's arm the missiles, oil the cannons, buckle our seatbelts and go kick some alien ass! (Or something.)
SO WHAT EXACTLY MAKES A SHOOT-'EM-UP A SHOOT-'EM-UP?
Well, at the risk of stating the obvious, it's a game where simple reaction times count for (almost) everything, and the actual shooting of various baddies constitutes the major part of the gameplay. It's just about the oldest form of computer game going (Space Invaders was pure shoot-'em-up, for instance), short of mad Victorian chappies crouching down inside big wooden cabinets and pretending to be chess machines. It's one of the most enduring forms too - hardly an issue of YS goes by when we don't review at least a couple of newies, and it's the rare arcade-style game (sports sims and puzzlers excepted) that doesn't include at least a small shoot-'em-up element in there somewhere as part of the gameplay.
But back to the case in hand. What we're talking about here are the pure shoot-'em-ups - games where the wiping out of waves of aliens or other baddies is everything (though let's be fair, the violence in most of these is very abstract and minimal). They easily divide into four major types, depending on how you view the action. And you can read all about them over the page.
THE FIRST EVER SHOOT-'EM-UP
Goodness knows - Space Invaders is the obvious answer, but most of the other early arcade games were shoot-'em-ups too - Defender, Asteroids, Galaxian and the rest. To find out what made it onto the Speccy first, well, we'll have to look back in the vaults and see what we come up with, shan't we?
Right, here we are with the very first issue of Your Spectrum (later to evolve into Your Sinclair), cover date January 1984. Flick to the review section and we have two Space invaders-type games, both from long-forgotten Anirog Software - Galactic Abductor and Missile Defence. The second issue (Feb 84. believe it or not) brings us such delights as Xark (Contrast Software), a Defender-type game and Alien Swoop (a Galaxians rip-off), while in issue three had Bug Byte's Cavern Fighter (a tunnel-based jobbie, like an early version of R-Type).
Hmm. Let's go back a bit further, shall we? All the early computer games mags were listings based (ie had lots of crap Basic games printed out line by line over oodles of pages, as if Program Pitstop had run rampant over the whole mag!) so we might find something in there. Believe it or not find something in there. Believe it or not, I have the very first issue of the very first computer games mag in the country sitting right here on my desk, cover-dated November 1981. There's only one Sinclair game in here (for a ZX80 or 81 - a Speccy forerunner - and taking up a whole 2K!). It's called City Bomb, and it's a sort of shoot-'em-up. Apparently you're in a plane at the top of the screen and have to bomb the city beneath you, flattening out a landing strip so you can put down safely. Thrilling stuff, eh? As for commercially available stuff, it's all lost a bit too far back in the mists of time to be sure. Still, shoot-'em-ups started emerging for the Speccy pretty soon after the machine came out, certainly by the end of '82. Throughout 83 people like Quicksilva and Bug Byte were churning out Space Invaders, Asteroids and Scramble clones advertised as 'being in 100% machine code and in colour' too, so perhaps it was one of those. Exciting stuff, eh?
In the great YS Guide To... tradition, for a one-off-only special occasion we've adapted our normal rating system to accommodate the shoot-'em-up theme. Here's how they work...
Are there oodles of inventive, nasty and extremely difficult-to-kill baddies all over the place (including the biggest, meanest muthas ever at the end of each level) or do you end up fighting a fleet of Trebor Mints?
Are there oodles and oodles of well-thought-out and spectacular weapons available to pick up and use, or do you have to make do with the same crap little peashooter throughout the game?
Unusually, the lower the score the better here. Basically, is this exactly the same as every other shoot-'em-up ever (in which case it'll get a high score for being chronically unoriginal) or does it have something innovative and special about it to set it apart from the crowd?
Does everything make a degree of sense in Speccyvision, or is it all a jumbled mass of pixels, with bullets, missiles and even little spaceships winking in and out of view willy-nilly?
A good example of the World War II aeroplanes school of vertical (and occasionally horizontal) scrollers, of which there are oodles. 1943 features lots of little fighter planes, the occasional giant bomber and the odd power-up. Sadly its pale, bland graphics, easy attack patterns and a general slowness make it a less than spectacular experience. Still, it is out on budget so you won't be blowing too much dosh.
All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB