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Graeme Devine
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 16K

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Chris Bourne


IF A COMPANY has produced a compiler for the Spectrum or the ZX-81, the temptation must exist to publish some games which have been produced with the program. Softek has fallen into the trap and produced a range of arcade games, known collectively as Ultima.

One of the cassettes in the range, for the 16K Spectrum, is Firebirds. It is little more than a thinly-disguised version of Phoenix, or Winged Avenger, with two motherships which look like pretzels floating around the screen.

The game is supposed to be set in space but there is no evidence of stars and the screen is black except for the birds, motherships and other moving parts.

Unfortunately the author has not been careful to reduce the effect of colour-clash which occurs when two shapes on different coloured squares seemingly interact.

The effect is worst in the explosion sequences when you can see the outlines of the character squares in which the spaceships were designed originally.

We detected two display bugs on the screen in the second and third phases. Parts of the display disappear during play and no effort seems to have been made to circumvent the difficulty. That at least would be excusable if the effect was not so apparent.

The game could have been reasonably good if more attention had been paid to detail. Perhaps a would be a good idea for Softek to forget about compiler games and produce something in pure machine code. The games may be easy to produce but they are not so much fun to play.

Firebirds can be obtained from Softek, 329 Croxted Road, London SE24. It costs £5.95.

Not Rated