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US Gold Ltd
Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K
Alkatraz Protection System

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Mike Gerrard
Chris Bourne

Well dog my cats, root my toot and goldarn it, those pesky varmints from US Gold done gone and brung out the fastest coin-op conversion in the west. Well, maybe not the fastest as it was announced for January but what's a few months between friends when you're talking about 'the ultimate in fast-action shoot 'em ups'?

The Tombstone Express is coming to Gold City, and it's got more silver dollars on board than you've had baked beans, so mild-mannered trainspotting Speccy owners everywhere get a chance to become Express Raider, the greatest train robber in the whole darn prairie. This is some special train robber though, as he did his schooling at the Kung Fu Fighters Academy - does this make him a Marshall artist?

It makes the game a strolling scroll from left to right as first you walk down the main street of town and work over a few of the law-abiding citizens trying to get in your way. Then you can deal with a whole host of coyotes, though they look mighty like black panthers to me. Still, at least they don't have the hero's problems - or is it the villain? Whatever, just call him the Attribute Kid.

Second stage of the game is on the roof of the train, where you leap along, ducking and kicking, with a range of offensive and defensive moves in Exploding Fist style, depending on whether you have the fire button pressed or not - and just for the record this has keyboard, Kempston, Opus and interface options. It also has a Practice Mode giving you 32 lives, and normal and advanced modes too, each with four skill levels.

If you can get along the train to the engine, ducking under the bullets and the flying shovels of grit (hope I typed that right), then you get to ride alongside the next train firing off your gun at anything that moves.

Express Raider's okay for a while, but the Spectrum's capable of much better graphics than this, and much faster action too. If you like a game where you move along going kick-kick-duck-jump-kick-thump then this could be for you, but for me it's been done before, and done better.