"FIGHTERS attacking!" yelps the Spectrum sound chip - a sound to curdle the blood and freeze the marrow.
When you've got the message, and it's not easy to ignore, you must stand - well, sit - ready to repulse airborne attacks on the airliner which you are protecting. As the enemy aircraft swarm in, line them up in your sights and fire a batch of twin missiles.
Your targets are not dumb, however, and will veer away as soon as you let loose. Not to worry, remain calm and keep firing. You have a never-ending supply of missiles, which is fortunate because your controls are on a hair-trigger. The fighter will swerve violently off course if you give the controls the lightest of tweaks.
If you're serious about protecting the VIP passengers you should keep the airliner in view through the large window on the display. It always travels north, so if you get lost during a dog fight, you can use your compass to put you back on course.
The compass is supplemented by an artificial horizon which shows whether you are ascending or descending, and the angle at which you tip your wings when you turn the fighter. A radar display, bottom left, shows the position of the raiders as they advance on the airliner.
Despite the array of navigational instruments Flyer Fox is far from my idea of a simulation. You are automatically taken into the sky where the airliner is awaiting your protection, and you have no control over the speed of your fighter. Your flight ceiling is also pre-set at an altitude of 19553 feet - the height at which the airliner flies - and can go no higher.
Your job is more difficult than that of the enemy fighters. You must protect the airliner, protect your own nose and tail and chase away any bandits. A display at the bottom of the screen gives your status and informs you when you are low on fuel or damaged.
There are six levels of play, all of which look the same, with no great increase in difficulty. You cannot select the level at which you enter the game, but must progress steadily through each reaching a set score before moving on. Your fuel will be replenished at each new level, though any damage sustained will not be repaired. The bandits don't get any nastier, so your main lookout is keeping the damage status healthy. I reached level four in very short time.
At £2.95 Flyer Fox has a lot going for it - well some things, at least. It does have a limited variety of 3D graphics and the speech is fascinating for at least half an hour - although after that it does want to make you rip your Spectrum out by the roots and find the nearest bucket of water.
It's a reasonable shoot 'em up, but if you're looking for something more than I suggest you fly Psion's Flight Simulator, Fighter Pilot from Digital Integration or perhaps even Skyfox from Ariolasoft. After all, if you're looking for something like a flight simulator it's quality you'll want.
In some ways Flyer Fox is an aerial version of US Gold's Beach Head. The emphasis is on watching the pretty rockets fly rather than staying in the air or avoiding the bandits. If Flyer Fox was involved in giving real aerial support during a time of war, with the restraints on manoeuvrability, it wouldn't stand a chance
Publisher: Bug Byte
Joystick: Kempston, Interface II