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Insight Software
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Chris Bourne

Putting new games in a convenient nutshell is always a rather dodgy process, although it does help describe them in a way. So, bearing in mind all the pitfalls of so doing Subterranean Stryker could be described as a combination of a 'Defender ' and a 'Scramble' with graphical overtones of a Wheelie. Insight is a new software house, and Subterranean Stryker their first game. The overall object (apart from staying alive) is to descend through eight levels and destroy the enemy underground Power Crystal.

The 'Defender' aspect is represented by the requirement to collect human miners from the various levels, in fact you have to collect all humans from a level before the gate to the next level will let you pass downwards. The 'Scramble ' element is represented by the torturous caverns through which you travel, avoiding the various nasties, some of which shoot back at you. There is also a City level to compound the similarity. Having said that, Subterranean Stryker is not really a copy of either game.

The screen is split into three horizontal layers. At the top is the playing area. Each level contains five screens horizontally with continuous scrolling along them. Next comes a status panel with score, bar codes for shields and fuel level, numbers of humans rescued and lives left. Below is a radar scanner for the entire level which shows the positions of humans, nasties and your ship as well as exits to the next level down. Each level has its own colour, the rocks being drawn with alternating pixels of colour and black (which gives it its Wheelie look). Your ship is fitted with shields which can withstand bumps into the cavern walls and even allow you to pass through them if necessary, although this causes a heavy drain. Fuel may be replenished on some of the lower levels. All the humans and nasties are fully animated in a variety of ways.


'I was quite impressed with the graphics of this game, to say the least, most of them are rather detailed and well animated. But the graphics seem to fall back when you start moving. Yes, they do scroll very quickly and in quite a smooth fashion, but for some reason they seem to merge into a blurr as you whizz past, so you constantly have to stop to be able to get your bearings again. Down into the depths of the caverns you go - these are also very detailed and colourful, but - here comes Catch 22 of this game - the caverns themselves are so constricting that it is impossible to fly at any speed through them without hitting the rocks and protrusions. This seems a little unfair to say the least, because you naturally lose shield strength as you progress through the game. Apart from this quibble, the game itself is very nicely finished with good sound. Animation is Jet Set Willy style - pretty good for a space-type game. It's a shame that this game is so difficult to play, or should I say 'tricky' to play, and does tend to kill itself off in playability and addictive qualities, due to the fact losing shields constantly is not only discouraging but frustrating.'

'Having seen some screen pits of this game l thought that it would be a good sort of 'Defender ' in the caves game, but besides the graphics and the sound, I didn't think the game was all that good. The animation of your ship isn't up to much because it is flicker'. The game itself is alright for a while but you soon get that feeling that there isn't enough going on to keep you occupied and it is this that lets the game down. Subterranean Stryker is quite payable but you need a steady hand if you want to get anywhere with it. I'm sure some people will like this game but it is less suited to the zapper button happy alien exterminator or arcade/adventure mutants.'

'Although the graphics are fairly small in Subterranean Stryker, everything is very well drawn and busily animated. Touches like the spade digging earth and throwing over an imaginary shoulder are excellent. The playing area is also well defined, but it is here that the game begins to falter a little, as the caverns are so tightly constricting that to fly through them either at speed or without causing fatal shield damage is almost impossible. It's a pity really, because otherwise Subterranean Stryker would be a really great shoot and collect em up game with addictivity guaranteed because of the lovely graphics, and the need to see what the next of eight screens looks like.'

Control keys: Q to T/A to G up/down, CAPS to V reverse, L to thrust, ENTER to fire
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair 2, AGF, Protek
Keyboard play: responsive and very fine movement allowed
Use of colour: excellent and very varied
Graphics: very good, plenty of animation, bit flickery on your craft
Sound: good tune, nice spot effects
Skill levels: 1
Lives: 3 plus shields
Screens: 40 - eight levels with five scrolling screens each
General Rating: A game of excellent promise that proves low on playability (and therefore addictivity) because of the difficulty level.


Screenshot Text

The first level, showing the radar screen at the bottom and working miners waiting to be rescued.

Your SUBTERRANEAN STRYKER descends to the lower levels.