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Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

Marcus Berkmann
Chris Bourne

This is a splendid game. Like me you may have been wondering what Vortex -in the hellenic shape of programmer Costa Panayi - has been up to since Highway Encounter and all those rinky games, but a year after Revolution, here comes Deflektor. Written like all Costa's stuff, especially for the Spectrum, it's a startlingly original and difficult game which stands any comparison with the best of a very good year.

On 60 screens, each of a relentlessly vicious nature, the idea is to guide a laser beam from one terminal to another to complete a circuit. To do this, you need to use a number of mirrors (the small green squares) which deflect the beam to different parts of the grid. Before the receiver will accept the beam you must destroy all the little purple blobs, which you can do by training the laser on them. Watch out for the little purple stars though, as hitting them with the beam causes it to overload and so loses you the game. Other surfaces reflect the beam (but you can't control which way they do), some absorb it and yet others act as a sort of teleport, moving the beam to another part of the grid and allowing you on some screens to get at places that would otherwise be completely inaccessible. On all but the first three screens there are also laser bugs floating about changing the angle of the mirrors and generally getting in the way. Against all this, is a stiff time limit which means that if you're completely hopeless like me, you don't manage to finish a screen very often.

The version I saw had an editor program which allowed you to flip in between the screens whenever you found the going hard, but this won't be appearing in the game you'll get in the shops. It was otherwise complete, though, so I had a wonderful afternoon moving through the screens trying desperately to finish one (I did manage one in the end). Once you've worked out how to finish a screen, of course, it's un morceau de gateau the next time you try it. But before you have it taped, you'll be ripping your hair out, and possibly some of your internal organs to boot.

It's pleasant also, in these days of 16-bit and consoles and whatever else, to be able to praise a game that was designed expressly with the Speccy in mind, blocky graphics, colour clash and all. Deflektor's fast, colourful and grabs you by the danglies - get it now before it gets you!

That rarest of specimens - an original game that's also chronically addictive. An instant classic, methinks.