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Quicksilva Ltd
Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K

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Tommy Nash
Chris Bourne

You just can't go by appearance nowadays. The lush tropical island setting of Glider Rider turns out not to be inhabited by friendly natives knocking back the Um Bongo but by the evil Abraxas Corporation - international gunrunners, terrorists supplied at competitive rates. And the trees and grass aren't adding awful an lot to the ozone layer. Polythene and nylon, the lot of them. What about all the buildings then? Club Mediterranee? Power plants and nuclear reactors!

Much the same goes for this game. I nabbed it as soon as I saw the first screen shots. The 3D graphics are excellent, if a little repetitive. And the idea of taking part in a mission designed to destroy the nuclear reactors appealed. As did the novelty of riding round on a motorbike that turns into a hang glider when you drive down hills. But like the biz about books and their covers, so you can't judge a game from its screen shots.

Glider Rider just never gets off the ground. For starters, if our secret agent wants to get any sort of speed he'd do getter swopping his Kawasaki with Paperboy's pushbike.

And no wonder hang gliding's got itself a reputation. It's downright suicidal if this is the sort of control you have. One moment you're pushing the joystick forward on a stairway to heaven, the next you're stuck at the top of a polythene poplar. The perspective's all wrong. If only the programmers had bothered to put in a proper scroll instead of paging from screen to screen. And it's doubly difficult when you come to drop your regulation hand grenades to destroy the enemy targets. Not that they ever explode anyway so it hardly matters.

The most frustrating thing of all though is that the game never lets you get to grips with it. It took two minutes to suss out how to take off, another two to go all the way around the island and that was as far as I got. As soon as you're airborne and within spitting distance of an enemy installation, the guns open up and drain your energy so fast it's impossible to do anything but die. And unlike your supply of hand grenades, there's no way of replenishing your energy. Curtains.

Glider Rider's a bit like the island it's set on. Looks good from a distance, lacks real depth.