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Sparklers
1985
Arcade: Vehicle Combat
£1.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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16
Chris Bourne

Desert Burner, we are told, is a code name for a very hot motor bike. Not only can it travel at speeds greater than 200 mph but it is also equipped with forward-firing twin cannons. The reason for the existence of this beast? Well, you as a member of a 'small but highly organised band of freedom fighters' are going to need it to deliver secret plans to another secret group and so help bring about the downfall of a very nasty and generally oppressive government.

You are given a side view the road on which you are riding the bike, and the road itself runs along the bottom of the screen with the desert sloping off behind, into infinity. There are two modes in which to play this game. The simplest only requires you to guide the bike away from the multitude of aggressive helicopters, dodging bombs they drop. If you manage to shoot a few down then all well and good, because you'll get a few points for your trouble. The hardest way to play the game is with your 'detection system' disabled, which means that all of the obstacles on the road, be they dead trees, cars, buses or just great potholes, must now be steered round or jumped over. They present no problem with the detection system enabled, however!

Control of the bike is simplicity itself. It can be made to accelerate or decelerate by moving the joystick left or right, and the speed at which you are moving is shown at the top of the screen. If you want to jump, then accelerate and push the joystick diagonally right. A jump or a wheelie will give you a 'nose up attitude' which, if timed well, should allow you to blow a few choppers out of the sky. The road is repeated endlessly with the number of laps and the number of points scored being recorded on the top section of the screen.

CRITICISM

'After some in depth research I have discovered that this 'game' is Creative Spark's answer to Firebird's Don't Buy This. Originally it was to be called Whatever you do, if you never buy another game again, for Lloyd's sake don't buy this. Oh! how I wish that was true. For some time now Creative Sparks have managed to produce some pretty reasonable, value for money games for their Sparklers range, but this is utter, unadulterated rubbish. The graphics are unbelievably bad. Attribute problems, huh! I've seen entire helicopters vanish without trace and then suddenly reappear. Scenario: piffle, where is the sense in having a game that demands that in one mode you should steer your way around hazards and in another not? Yet the hazards are still there and just add to the general mess of the display. What's more I can't help feeling that having to jump over trees that are GROWING BY THE SIDE of the road is just too silly for words. And another thing, the inlay card says that we are undertaking a long perilous journey: we are, but in circles, I know this because the program is counting the LAPS. Difficulty: none, it's harder to be hit by the bombs than it is to avoid them. Don't be tempted to buy this game just to see how bad it is, take my word for it and wait for Creative Sparks to turn up with something better, I know they can'

'There do seem to be a lot of bugs in this one - it has a tendency to crash at frequent intervals. The graphics aren't very good and the characters a little jerky. When you make the bike do a wheelie it looks as if the little man is defying all known laws of physics. The sound just about manages a few spot effects. Controlling the bike only takes three keys: accelerate; jump and fire - so it's a very easy game to play. Generally I didn't enjoy this game as it got very monotonous'

'Desert Burner is a moon buggy game but on a bike in a desert. It's moderately playable, but I much prefer the normal versions. This game is much better played by using the keyboard than with a joystick. If the graphics had been a lot better and smoother this might not be such a bad game but as it is it's pretty average.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: Caps shift to accelerate, Z to jump, space to fire
Joystick: Sinclair 2, Kempston and Cursor
Keyboard play: better than joystick
Use of colour: bright but graphics clash a lot
Graphics: jerky, poorly designed and generally bad
Sound: poor
Skill levels: two
Lives: 5
General Rating: Pretty poor.

52%
37%
45%
65%
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48%

Screenshot Text

The world's longest and most dangerous Ring Road, in DESERT BURNER. Round and round and round you go, popping off the odd nasty while the sun grins down mercilessly.