SURVIVING is the name of the game, literally in the case of the graphically attractive newie from US Gold. Survivor (£7.95) was written by Topo Soft, a Spanish company. I don’t know whether the purple prose of the inlay stems from its hot Mediterranean blood or from the colder hype climes of Brum — ‘Floating somewhere in space, circling a long dead planet is a huge spaceship loaded with life forms... creeping along the walkways, a solitary creature fights for its own survival. The creature is the end product of a million years of evolution of a dying world’ — but eat your heart out Arthur C Clarke!
You’re the creature, endeavouring to perpetuate your race. Among the 142 ornate locations lie ten pods which should be placed within incubators. Depositing pods replenishes energy levels, but nibbling on one of the little engineers roaming the ship will do just as well. A cross between Alien and one of Jeff Minter’s expectorating camels, the creature’s defence is acid saliva, which it spits at anything looking remotely harmful. (Kano airport in northern Nigeria used to boast a stationary camel that chewed cud all day long, cunningly ejecting the smelly stuff from the side of its mouth at disembarking passengers. I throw this in as a mere, but interesting, aside, and to say that whatever Mr Minter may think, spitting camels are not nice).
Ocean’s big four for the summer certainly offer a better prospect than the weather (though it’s hot and clammy as I write). Stickiest, and certainly the sweatiest, will be Renegade. A lot more work has been done on the game since I last saw It. The Amstrad version is complete (and looks just like the coin-op original), but on the Spectrum it is, if anything, slightly better. Why sweaty? Well after all the fuss over Palace’s Barbarian...
Then there’s Athena, which is most certainly not about buying cards from a well-known and hideously trendy gift shop, but a conversion from the SNK arcade coin-op. Set against a mythological backdrop of demons and bizarre creatures, you play gorgeous pouting Athena, a rampaging goddess with a penchant for smashing the scenery to bits in search of new armour. ‘Stunningly addictive,’ says Ocean, but we’ll check it out next month.
Also from SNK comes Tank — Yo! Hell on the highway! Armoured arcade action! Hut! Get down, this is def! Take the Field Commander in his tank across jungles, swamplands and deserts and... what have I forgotten? — oh yes, kill everything in sight.
And then, before you’ve even got started, it’s Game Over (the one with the ad containing naughty bits some magazines have been covering up). It’s the second Dinamic game to be published by Ocean. The action takes place in a far off galaxy where a once-loyal Lieutenant has joined rebel forces to fight against his cruel Queen. His mission is to destroy the Queen’s domain and end her purple rain. It begins in the planet’s prison where the loyal lefty secures essential minerals and destroys the place, then moves into the jungle before he reaches and infiltrates the Queen’s palace to blow it to smithereens.
Of the four, I’d put my money firmly on Renegade which is, simply, a disgracefully fun game. However, it’s also in a more advanced state than the others, much more so than Denton’s Tibet for Ocean, a game so long in the developing to date that it’ll only ever be for the 128. Still, to tide you over until the full reviews, take a look at the screen shot of Game Over and see if you can decide who that fat green lumox is on the right-hand side. Suggestions on a postcard to: Just Who Is Robin Candy Lookalike? Comp...
And talking of Mr Candy, Mercenary from Novagen is just about to be revealed on the Spectrum. This Paul Woakes creation has taken ages to arrive after receiving acclaim in all its other incarnations. A 21st century soldier of fortune crash-lands on the planet Targ, where he becomes embroiled in the continuing conflict between two forces — the Palayars and the Mechanoids. The objective is simply to escape the planet alive. You can fly In a variety of craft and explore Targ’s mysterious underground complexes, collecting useful objects to aid your quest.
Targ is huge, and exploration is essential. The enthralling movement of the vector graphics on the other machines has been an essential quality of the game — and Novagen say the Spectrum version is no different.
Carefree, mobile, and lethal, the software industry’s answer to Bonnie and Clyde, Michael Baxter and Sarah Donnovan, recently held a party to celebrate, amongst other things, the advent of Grand Prix Simulator by Code Masters. Inspired by the coin-op Super Sprint (to which, incidentally, Activision have the rights), it’s a one- or two-player race around a track viewed from overhead. Originally on the Amstrad, it shot to number one In the charts.
With 14 levels of difficulty it’s bound to keep you up into the early hours of the morning. Full review next month — hopefully.
For those with Douglas Adams Hitchhiker’s humour (like Mike Dunn, who thinks headbands tied round the wrist are pretty neat) Mirrorsoft’s autumn release should be right up your street. Called Moon Strike, it features your archenemy Professor Humphrey Bogus, inventor of the digital teabag (and, incidentally, a relative of another well-known archenemy, Dr Blitzen, from two previous Mirrorsoft games). He’s just come up with this doobrie called a Tachyon Vortex, parked it on the far-side of the moon and, like any self-respecting mad scientist, intends to destroy the world with it. You might think this would be good enough a reason to enter the fray, but in fact your real purpose is to beat up Bogus for the terrible things he said about your grandmother.
Moon Strike is a vertically scrolling, shoot-’em-up from the New Zealand team of Binary Innovation, and stars pizzas and coins as the opposition — there’s also a cameo appearance by Mona Lisa. Can’t say fairer than that.
Gremlin, after playing around with cute characters such as Bounder, Thing and Monty Mole have now gone hard and mean three times over in Death Wish III, their big summer release. Licensed from the ubiquitous film starring Charles Bronson as Paul Kersey, New York’s vigilante de-worms the Big Apple.
By the fact that he’s armed with a 475 Wildey Magnum, pump-action shot gun, machine gun, rocket launcher and a mean mouth you can tell he’s no wimp and means trouble. Gangster style shootings mount as he wanders the streets, but shooting at the local cops isn’t wise, they start having wishes for death for him. Kersey’s greatest ally Is his unshakable belief that the fate of decent, clean-living, Twinky-buying Americans is in his hands — but so’s the multitude of weapons with which he executes his death wish.
From mean streets to cuddly wildlife parks, the setting for Yogi Bear, Piranha’s first cartoon licence. Cartoon characters haven’t always come across too well on the computer — we’ve had a disappointing Asterix, a pretty, but uninspiring Rupert, and Fred Flintstone only raised a few chortles. Perhaps Piranha will finally delight... Playing Yogi, true to the cartoon series, you travel the wilds of Jellystone Park raiding grub from picnic baskets while avoiding that familiar plague, Ranger Smith, who’s out to stop your greedy antics.
There’s not only the Ranger to contend with, but also the devilish map which includes many hidden passages — some helpful, some not. The game’s ultimate object is to rescue your little buddy Boo Boo, who’s been captured (although I’m not too sure who by yet). If you want to be one of the first to save Yogi’s lil’ pal then look out for a smarter than the average competition next month.
Finally, there’s Quicksilva’s first major release of the year, The Tube (£6.95), which has been done by Gannon Designs up in Scotland. No, it’s not a licensed version of the infamous TV music programme with an animated Jools swearing his way through garbled introductions (though there’s a game for you...), it’s a fast, scrolling shoot-’em-up set in a tube. Argus say the Spectrum hardware has been pushed to its limits with The Tube’s many new features which have been incorporated in an innovative way. One factor it does have in common with TV’s The Tube is music, written by the prolific David Whittaker, who is said to have developed a new system that works on both 48K and 128 versions, using the machines to full effect.
Fast, horizontally scrolling news from Firebird says that a biggie shoot-’em-up called Sidewize is headed this way on their Gold label. It’s been written by the Odin team, and Firebird’s Colin Fuidge says, ‘It’s fantastic shoot-’em-up with 60 trillion sprites, amazing parallax scrolling, and it’s the best thing since French style yoghurt.’ But what would he know? I’ve seen several screens in action, and it certainly looks like a powerful piece of software. No release date as yet.