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!
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