Mean Streak [Mirrorsoft]
A futuristic fight between bikers along a semi-devastated road, filled with damaging objects and walls. It's playable but a bit dull. It doesn't seem to have much going for it, variety is lacking and the graphics are slightly drab. It was a full price game, and there's not much to justify it. 128k version has improved sound including an in-game tune.
The Fast and the Furious [Go!]
It actually delivers what the title promises, lots of frantic action, in the shape of a top view horizontal shoot'em up - in which your "aircraft" is a magic carpet nonetheless. Graphics are colourful and feature some nice monsters. It's a very apt game for players affected by attention deficit disorder. It's a fun, depthless game - with a strange bonus section I didn't understand very well. Weird whistley sounds in the main screen, and acceptable effects in the game.
Gun Runner [Hewson Consultants]
Side view platform-shoot'em up. It's like a flying aliens filled course, and each time you die you have to repeat it from the start. There are power up's to help you, like a very well welcomed tri-directional shooting, or a jetpack, or a shield or "poison" which is another word for "smart bomb". The graphics are monochrome, but clear. The main character looks a bit funny to me. Very nice tune. It's an OK game, playable, but without any outstanding ideas or features.
Chain Reaction is a 3d action game, with slightly more coloured backgrounds than your usual isometric specimen, vaguely similar to Strike Force Cobra [Phirana, 1986], plus a black main sprite. It's not a 3d platform like Head Over Heels [Ocean Software, 1987], and neither an arcade/adventure like Fairlight [The Edge, 1985]: your aim wandering among the rooms, find the small radioactive cylinders littered around, and dispose of them letting them fall into the circular hole at the center of the structure: the cylinders, though, are distributed over several levels, and you must use elevators to move among them - the disposal operation, anyway, it's only possible at the first level - to complicate things you have three kinds of shooting guardian robots, and the obvious time limit.
You have unlimited bullets to wipe off the robots, though, and a jetpack if you want to try to hover over them, or over holes in the floor from the second level up [which are anyway very useful when you need to reach the disposal hole in the first floor very quickly]. Some of the robots are a sort of small flying pyramids with antennas, so it's particulary difficult to fly over them, although sometimes you'll find yourself standing over them. Each time the robots hit you with their bullets, the "Rad" bar decreases, so you must be careful - because you've only got one life. Anyway, luckily for you, there are anti-radioactive showers here and there, which will clean you from the radiations and restore your health.
I think it's playable, it looks good and can become quite addictive . An obscure but good game.
1987's is the year in which Dominic Robinson programmed his magnum opus, which it's of course Zynaps, but he even found the time to create this brilliant little game for Hewson's budget label, Rack-It.
In spite of the title, this game is not apologetic toward anarchy, au contraire, you must stop the arnachic rebels by penetrating their premises and destroying their ammunitions, while dodging their robots.
It's a top view tank game, reminding of the great Panzadrome [Ariolasoft, 1985], or a minor title as Podder [Central Solutions, 1986], in which the ammuntions are represented by square blocks you can shoot and destroy, while the robots can only be temporarily freezed.
But you can't destroy a block of ammunitions while standing near it, you have to stay at least a square away - this means that it's not always perfectly clear where to start from, you must observe and find the right path to destroy an entire agglomeration of them. You have a limited time, and once you finished to destroy the ammunitions, the screen flashes and you must find the "exit" square.
The gameplay is very simple, but it's implemented in a fast, colourful way, with very nice sound effects and tunes - so, overall, a bit limited, but quite enjoyable nonetheless.
Not even the weapons she eventually pick ups up by killing one of the everpresent nasties is of much help. Some of them even completely misses the target, at least if it is too near. In fact, the only real target is Athena herself - as most of the creatures can't be avoided. Those tiny things crawling from out the trees and biting her toes are the worst. Little bastards. Anyway, exploring the monochrome cyan forest she finally found a sort of wild monster running back and forth and she actually defeated it, using the kamikaze tactic, more than her strenght, really. After multiple, uncountable deaths, it eventually gave up - and she was ready for the second level, a yellow place that reminded me of Renegade III: The Final Chapter. After all, the programmers are the same: the Deakin/Horn dynamic duo, and this is no Operation Wolf.
I'm not sure, but I think that Psycho Soldier - Athena sequel - received worse reviews - but, really, at least it's playable.
Sidewize is a super-smooth horizontal shoot'em up set in space, starring a man with a jetpack who faces swarm after swarm of hyperfast enemies. His aim is apparently to conquer five different worlds, characterized by a progressive difficulty level and, of course, by a different hue of monochrome for each one of them - anyway, you can choose to play the levels in the order you prefer. As hinted before, the movement is very smooth and fast, and I can add that the graphics are very well drawn and animated too, with nice touches as the recoil each time you shoot - after all, although a Firebird Software release, we're talking about the artistry of the Odin people - who are actual authors of the game. There's only one defect, and it's when you finally reach the ground of a planet: while in the space sections there are no backgrounds besides a pleasant star field, in the monochrome planet environment vegetation and such tend to hide the sprites and the bullets. Nonetheless, overal the action and playability are very good and enjoyable, with added power up's which strenghten your fire and speed up your character. Cherry on top, even the tune and the jingles are great, both as compositions and soundwise, completing the exquisite presentation of Sidewize - which, in the 1987's horizontal shoot'em up category, it's second only to Zynaps.
The first section can be divided in five subsections: the paws - the cyan esophagus - the fangs - the two barriers - the final monster. It's the hardest part.
The Paws. They hang dangling from the ceiling or moving from the ground, and sometimes you can't avoid them, so the only way to get past them is to shoot their weak spot, clearly visible toward the "root" of the paws. It's probably the easiest part, besides the power up's portion at the start.
The Cyan Esophagus. A series of narrow passages riddled with little organic excrescences shooting organic bullets at various speed in irregular ways. It's a very delicate moment, the shootings are really unpredictable and can surprise you anytime, while your manoveure space is really limited. At first I tried to get through using a maximum speed, and it was an improvement, but still too many attempts didn't end in a good way. I then practiced a surgical use of the diagonal missiles, shooting each couple of ceiling-ground excrescences, but still wasn't satisfied. The best strategy seems to be mixing the two techniques.
The Fangs. Big white horns or fangs from both ceiling and floor, moving up and down - not difficult as it may seem during the earlier attempts: with care and speed you can go past them without much trauma - although there's the organic excrescence variable looming here too.
The Two Barriers. After a long line of upper excrescences for which you'll need your cut through laser to get past easily, you encounter the first barrier you must pierce through. I had some problems with it, because sometimes I died while wading through it, and I didn't understand exactly why. Apparently the organic tissue reformed while I was still in the barrier, so I decided I have to move through it faster. It wasn't enough, it seems. I have the impression that you have to avoid hitting the barrier before actually be very near it, not even hitting a point you're not going to enter. After the first barrier there are spores of various size placed in the middle of the canal, and the usual excrescences, and then an even larger barrier appears before reaching the final monster's lair.
The Final Monster. It's an ugly thing, almost costantly shooting at you, so you have to move up and down, to avoid the swarms of organic bullets, while the monster tries to adjust his aim. If you have kept your power up's, you're still well equipped, and you stay focused, while costantly shooting - overwhelming it won't take too long.
The other sections are shorter and relatively easier.
Second Section: Asteroids Galore.
The second is a typical vertical dodge-the-asteroids ordeal, with the odd alien swarm here and there. You have just sweated like a lashed Ancient Egypt slave to finish the first section and you must immediately face another traumatically fast and lethal situation; a meteor storm. But there's a trick, I think, and that's keeping the fire button constantly pressed: apparently this cause the movements to slow down allowing you to react more safely to the constantly appearing asteroids.
Third Section: The Tunnel Of Hell.
Fourth section: Technocratic Bowels.
The fourth section is vertical, in a technological environment, where swarms of enemies drop loads of hard-to-avoid organic bullets. The secret is keeping on the left side of the screen, just next to the wall: the aliens won't appear along that trajectory.
Final: Great Balls of Ice.
Salamander is a challenge between difficulty and ostination.