Sigma 7 is really rather good. It looks a little like Zaxxon (brilliant semi-3D arcade game) but then goes on to reveal original and entertaining sections.
There isn't much sign of a strong plot-line, but the pleasing gameplay and attractive graphics make up for this.
Sigma 7 is split into three sub-plots, each with a different aim.
At the start (Stage 1) your little space craft can be seen launching off from an impressive mothership and making a flightpath diagonally up the screen.
As soon as the mothership has moved off the screen and you are happily motoring away, on come screaming waves of green aliens that swirl and twirl all over the shop, making flying very hazardous indeed. The obvious solution is to bank left and right, wiping out the aliens as they appear. This is pretty easy to begin with, but soon gets tricky as more appear at a faster rate.
Once these are dispensed with (a fairly easy task on the first levels) another large construction will appear in the top right-hand corner of the screen and work it's way down. Once you get to it, you'll find yourself on Stage 2 which is a little like Pacman in an odd sort of way.
You're in control of a tank-like vehicle which sits on a sort of griddy affair which - initially - has pathways littered with little coloured blobs. By guiding your tank over the pathways you pick up some of the blobs. Others will stay in place (and more of those in a minute). Hampering your progress by running into you are small square aliens that revolve and gang up on you if you're not careful.
Now, after you've collected all the blobs you'll be able to memorise the pattern of the immovable ones. And these will be used in Section 3. Once all the blobs have been eaten, you'll have to battle your way up to the top right of the screen, through all the aliens and on to the next section.
At this point a couple of comments about the graphics wouldn't be too out of place.
Although the 3D is all very nice thank you, there's rather too much attribute clash for my liking and. although it may look quite 'effective' when an alien is being blown to smithereens, we've now been shown that there are ways around the problem. (Dandy, Shadow Skimmer et al). Having said that, the aliens are all very well drawn and they explode in a cloud of smoke, which is a nice touch.
Anyway, back to the game. Section 3 is even stranger than the previous stage. What we have here is a sort of matrix of square buttons drifting in space with some peculiar plant objects floating around the outside. At this point you turn into an object closely resembling another planet of some sort. Here you must push down the buttons on the matrix in the pattern of the fixed dots on Sector 2. Complex eh? No, I didn't understand it either.
All the time you are heckled by something or other that looks a bit like a pyramid which goes around un-pressing all the buttons. It'll also kill you on contact and so is generally to be avoided.
Then once you've completed this bit you go all the way back to the beginning and start again, although the aliens are more unpleasant and things are a bit tougher around.
Reviewer: Graham Taylor
Nineteen hundred and eighty-seven! What a year! I remember it well - flared trousers, riots in the streets and ration books! (Pull yourself together, lad - JD). Oh yes, 1987, the year Sigma Seven was first released, was famous for the discovery of metallic bas-relief graphics, originally on the Commodore 64. Within seconds, every programmer in the world was trying to get the same effect, with extremely mixed success. Sigma Seven was one of the very mixed ones, and now it's out on budget so you can judge for yourself whether there's more to it than pretty graphics.
I suppose it's a fair conversion of Ron Jeffs' CBM 64 original (or "origonal" as it says on the intro screen), but you can't help thinking that it's more of a Zaxxon rip-off than anything else, especially since the first stage consists of nothing more than taking off from a throbbing big pink space platform and flying through the cosmos blasting pointy alien ships.
With the Spectrum's basically monochrome graphics it's a bit hard to get any impression of perspective, so it's mainly a matter of moving left and right, zapping away and hoping you wipe them out before they dive straight at you.
This isn't too difficult and you should reach stage two without breaking into a sweat, coming in to land automatically on another big pink space platform. It might have been a bit more fun if there was the danger of coming in too low and slamming into the superstructure, but no such luck.
Stage two comes as a bit of a shock, because it's nothing other than a sci-fi version of PacMan - manoeuvre around a walled maze, collecting dots and avoiding the ghosts - sorry, spacetanks.
The big bonus is that you can blast them to smithereens with your energy-spurting death cannon, which is an element I always thought was missing from PacMan.
The maze section is pretty good fun, if unoriginal, and gets progressively more difficult as you clear the dots and more tanks appear from the tank generators at the end of cul-de-sacs. Clear the whole maze of dots and return to the entrance of the maze, and you get to phase three. Back into space for another shooter? No, not at all.
Stage three is a peculiar kind of puzzle in which rows of coloured lights flash in sequence as a pyramid-shaped alien chases you around a sort of cosmic chess board. I never quite got the hang of what I was supposed to be doing on this stage, which is probably why I can't tell you anything much about the subsequent sections...
Decent scrolling, slidey between-section logos, reasonable bleep-bleep sound effects and dreadful 2001-style music all add up to a bit less than the sum of the parts.
Sigma Seven might have been the last world in multi-faceted spacey arcade adventures when it appeared, but now it looks more like a few second-hand game concepts cobbled together into one title. That isn't to say it's not worth a budget price, but don't expect anything extra super special.
Author: Mike Richardson
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
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