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1987
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£7.95
£1.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Firebird BleepLoad

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42
Andy Smith
Chris Bourne

Is it a Firebird? No, it's a bi-plane...

Bi-planes are not exactly state-of-the-art aerial fighting machines and certainly not the obvious choice for combat against the overwhelming odds found in Firebird's second coin-op conversion Flying Shark.

It's a vertically scrolling shoot-em up in which you must fly your trusty if ancient biplane through five levels of continual bombardment from other aeroplanes as well as tanks and boats. Every so often some beefier opponents will loom up behind you and you must destroy these before they reach the top of the screen, otherwise they go into "berserker' mode and really give you what-for.

The enemy attack in waves and as you're only armed with a front firing gun, their sheer numbers can prove overwhelming. Never give up hope though because extra firepower is available if you manage to shoot a wave of aeroplanes and catch the resulting flashing square. Manage this twice and your firepower is increased threefold making your job slightly easier. You also have three smart bombs (initially) but you have to go easy on these if you want to survive to the end of the level.

Alternatively, at the end of a wave, you may be lucky enough to grab an extra thousand points, or even a bonus life to add to the three you start off with.

Take some elements from Moonstrike, throw in a bit of 1942, add a pinch of Lightforce and you'll have some idea of Flying Shark - incredibly frustrating, playable and addictive.

Reviewer: Andy Smith

RELEASE BOX
C64/128, £8.95cs, £12.95dk, Imminent
Spec, £7.95cs, Out Now
Ams, £8.95cs, £14.95dk, Dec/Jan 88

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 70/100
1 hour: 80/100
1 day: 90/100
1 week: 70/100
1 month: 50/100
1 year: 30/100

Playability with teeth!

8/10
6/10
4/10
8/10
893/1000

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SPECTRUM VERSION

With so much ground detail it can be a little difficult to see the enemies bullets - sometimes you're left wondering what hit you. Sound is limited to spot effects (naff) and the odd tune (good) but that doesn't detract from the games sheer playability.

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Tally-ho! Biggles never had it this tough - but then Biggles never starred in a Firebird coin-op conversion. You're half-way through the second level, over-flying an aircraft carrier, which has plenty of death-dealing hardware to welcome you with.