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Image Works
Probe Software Ltd
1988
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£8.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

30
David McCandless
Chris Bourne

Fernandez must die. Why? is it because he subscribes to the Reader's Digest? Or perhaps because he's a member of the Liberal Democratic... Democratic Social... Socialistic Liberal... that other party?

Well, no actually, it's because he's a cotton-picking dictator. Not content with merely holidaying in Amigo-land or even just buying a cheap stately home up north, Fernandez has flippin' well gone and invaded a whole country! And I thought the Ed was a megalomaniac (I am and you're fired! Ed).

So it's up to you, the humble, patriotic soldier, to trundle along the vertically scrolling landscape, shooting the foreign scum, freeing prisoners and destroying the eight bases in an effort to save your country and the world's chilli industry.

The scrolling graphics (trees, huts, railways, sandbags, bridges) are seen in the typical overhead view and are in that twilight zone between brilliance and um - average I think the word is. Everything has forced shading for a more 'solid' feel - but a lot of it just looked like dirty cardboard cutouts to me.

The scrolling itself, is a little slow when you are walking and firing, but luckily there is the option of clambering into a car when you find one, and the scrolling speed hots up accordingly.

Your enemies are quite varied. First and most frequent are the hordes of antagonistic soldiers intent on having you as a bloody notch on their gun stocks. Then, there is the odd tank or three which gives you hassle if you hang around too much. And don't forget the invincible spitting speed-boat which sprays rockets everywhere, as well as the many buried mines littering the place.

To combat these you have an infinite supply of bullets and a finite but a renewable cache cf explosive shells that provides access to the rooms.

Which brings me nicely (and quite competently I might add) to my next subject, and why not? The rooms. Their catacombed shapes connect the nine fields together. Passing through them in a strategic order allows you to reach the bases. The rooms also house the prisoners, who are found and freed by blasting their cell doors for extra points.

There are a couple of features from the Nice Touches catalogue as well, all adding to the addictiveness and staying power. For a start, you have a map option, useful for finding your approximate position and the position of the bases in a mass of pixels. Then, there's the brilliant oh-no-you're-not-going-back-to-the-start-when-you-lose-all-your-lives effect. Instead when you start again everything is as you left it, including you, beginning from where you ended. Great.

The only niggle I found was the collision detection. It's a bit suspect. Enemies' bullets pass right through you, trucks run you over and you don't die. But clip the uttermost pixel of a mine or tank and hey blamo! you is dead, gringo!

Fernandez, although similar to, is not as singleminded as Commando. You can double back and even utilise a little strategic ganglion of the old grey matter, instead of just blasting, blasting, blasting, swearing, blasting...

Commando clone with strategic knobs on (Fnar!) and cars and tanks and trains and bases and bombs... need I go on?

7/10
7/10
8/10
8/10
8/10