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Red Shift Ltd
Julian Gollop
1984
Tactical Combat
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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86
Sean Masterson
Chris Bourne

Now we're going back in time a bit. Red Shift were known for their science fiction strategy series. One of the best of these was Rebel Star Raiders. As is typical of games of the time, the program takes ages to load. The player is presented with a choice of four scenarios on loading: Moonbase, Starlingale, The Final Assault and Expansion. These need to be loaded from tape individually and the scenarios themselves take as long to get into the computer as most modern games do. Ah, but these were the days when such things mattered not.

The player is presented with a screen depicting a deck plan of an area of a ship or installation which has to be protected from attack by raiders. A few human operatives and a selection of droids is available to assist. Each deck is different, depending on the scenario, and some were designed to present a greater level of difficulty to the players than others.

During play the defender deploys the crew one by one. Each crew member has a name and weapon, and weapons can include anything from pistols and sub-machine guns to lasers and grenades. Not unreasonably, each weapon has a different effect on the enemy - but these of course, are no more than variations on a theme!. They are all deadly if used properly! Once Raiders have been deployed, the game begins.

Movement and combat are handled by a points system which dictates how far a character may move and what courses of action are available to him. Damage is dealt with in a similar manner. The Raider's forces outnumber the Defender's but the Defender's robots are armoured and consequently difficult to eliminate. The concept of the game is strikingly similar to that of a conventional board wargame called Azhanti High Lightning by Game Designers Workshop, which had deck plans for an 84 deck space cruiser and scenarios for shipboard combat. Both games are highly addictive, being well-devised tactical simulations with real variety in play. They provide a lasting challenge to the most persevering of tacticians. Red Shift no longer exists, which means it's unlikely that you'll catch one of their titles on your regular stockist's shelves. Rebel Star Raiders was another title which suffered from a lack of adequate exposure when it was released. Anybody with a copy of the game should treasure it - the game has its faults, but it was (and still is) way ahead of its time.

Screenshot Text

The battleground for the Moonbase scenario in REBEL STAR RAIDERS. Lots of bits of technology to hide behind if nothing else.