1991
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£9.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

68
Nick Roberts, Mark Caswell
Chris Bourne

In December 1973 the deep space probe Pioneer 10 passed Jupiter and left the solar system for good. Or so mankind thought. In it was a plaque informing extra-terrestrial life forms of the whereabouts of planet Earth.

Right, let's just fast forward to the future. 3021 AD, to be exact. Pioneer returns aboard a huge alien spaceship wanting to contact mankind. Bit of a problem though: it crash-landed on Earth, almost squashing our hero in the process! Apparently, pirates had boarded the craft and smashed it up; the ship's computer retaliated by setting the self destruct mechanism. So Earth now faces the major problem of a crippled alien ship about to go boom, very loudly. Which is a pretty unpleasant prospect. It's up to you to save the planet by fighting the alien pirates, finding the computer room and stopping the explosion.

Easy, eh?. First job is to find a litho-acid crystal and restore the computer's power. You're provided with an Exo-trak suit that makes you look like a cyborg tank and, to do some damage, a gun. Throughout the multi-directionally scrolling scenery are plenty of alien creatures to battle, and contact with any of them drains your energy level. Extra weapons can be collected on your explorative travels. On offer are shields, yo-yos (!), plasma rifles and turbo boosts - but be careful because all weapons have limited ammo, so use them wisely.

The next level's objective is to enter the computer room. All the entrances have been blocked, except one. But this can only be reached by swimming through the ship's fuel tanks in a Hydronaut suit (and fighting off packs of aliens, of course).

Can you save the Earth? Well, it lakes a lot of determination to achieve your goal. After several hours play I had barely reached the end of the first level, though it's not so much the alien hordes that give you a hard time but the puzzle element that taxes your grey matter. Your trigger finger is also given a good workout by the persistent creatures that hound you to your grave. Graphics are impressive - fast and colourful - reminding me of Dan Dare 3 (not surprising really as one of the programmers worked on DD 3). The sprites are bold and colourful, and colour clash isn't given a chance to muck up the colours.

Extreme is playable, a bit tricky in places, and certainly worthy of consideration.

MARK ... 85%

CRITICISM

'Though resembling Dan Dare 3, there's a better game in Extreme behind the colourful graphics. It incorporates ideas from shoot-'em-up, strategy and puzzle-style games, making an addictive mixture bound for success. At first, the game is very puzzling. You have to explore every nook and cranny and look carefully at the borders to find helpful switches. After playing a white, the tactics of play are soon obvious. You can replenish your energy and torch by standing at the place you teleported in, making the game not such a chore to play _ though you still may have to retrace your steps quite a way (while killing off a load of opponents) to return to the position you died in. Extreme is one mean game - it's addictive and I'll be playing for some time!!' NICK ... 87%

A fast and addictive shoot-'em-up to keep you burning the midnight oil.

85%
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86%