Starlight Software
1987
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£8.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

28
Tamara Howard
Chris Bourne

Wouldn't it be nice if you could trust people? If you could rely on people not to go back on their word? Well, you can't, especially if those people happen to be members of the Varg Empire.

For the past two hundred years or so, shunning debates and elections, the Sol Federation and the Varg Empire have been settling political disputes by each sending a starfighter into the Deathscape. The one that comes out not dead is deemed to be the winner of the argument.

However, the Varg Empire is determined to win the latest argument by cheating, and has sent in the Mothership to produce alien craft nineteen to the dozen. Being honourable people though, the Sol Federation are still only sending in one representative. And that's where you come in.

Yup - this is a 3D vector graphics into-the-screen blast. Fairly conventional stuff, but quite nicely done. It's also the second title (after Greyfell) to be released from the new Starlight label.

Destroying on-coming ships isn't as hard as it sounds. Your Zarquon C.A.M. III Multi-role fighter has all the latest equipment: plasma cannons, target seeking missiles, quadrophonic stereo sound and cigarette lighter.

Blowing up the Mothership is different. It's not quite as easy-peasy as it sounds. It's only possible to get on board and blast away if you've cracked the Varg code, and that's only possible if you've managed to destroy several Varg settlements. You can tell if you've cracked the code, because a series of blue lights will flash on a code board inside the space consul.

The flight consul itself is fascinating. As well as the usual spacey type things, fuel indicators, shield indicators and so on, there's also a neat little graphic of the pilot's hands. As the speed increases, the hands move further and further up the consul, as you press Fire, so do they. There's also the score grid and a map of the Deathscape itself, should you wish to call it up. With all this going on, it's sometimes more interesting to watch the consul than play the game.

Playing the game. The all important thing. Well it's fast, there's no denying that. It's essential that you keep on blasting away, because there are several different craft, and some of them need to be hit more than once to destroy them. Some are suicide teams which think nothing of ramming you and making you go wobbly. Some people just don't fight fair.

The best thing about the meanies is that they fly in fairly consistent patterns, so they're usually quite easy to hit.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of Deathscape is the gameplay. It's quite possible to get a really respectable score on Deathscape without really knowing what's going on. Just fly along and fire at random. But eventually you'll run out of fuel and that's your mission.

Deathscape is a good 3D action shoot em-up. If you're keen on shooting, with a little bit of strategy thrown in for good measure, then it's worth a look. But be patient, it takes some time to figure out what's going on.

Label: Starlight
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Tamara Howard

Fast and furious flying mission with good clear graphics. Worth taking a look at if you're a shoot-em-ups person.

6/10