CHEAPY OF THE MONTH!
Vooomph! Like a bolt from the blue, Hi Tech software blasts onto the budget scene with Guardian II, one of the best budget games I've seen in years.
Based on arcade classics of yesteryear Defender and Stargate, Guardian isn't bogged down with convoluted plotlines or complicated sub-games.
Alien fiends are attacking the earth and snatching innocent humans for their own grizzly ends. Being the last surviving starpilot with a fully intact spaceship, you must skim above the planet surface, wasting the aliens and ensuring that all of the humans are safely returned to the ground.
The bulk of the alien population - in the early stages at least - are Raiders. These are the guys that snatch the humans wandering the mountains. At the start of each stage, a set of aliens hyperspace in and gradually head down towards their victims.
Since each level is about five scrolling screens long, you won't be able to keep track of all the bad guys without thorough examination of the invaluable scanner at the top of the screen.
Even if a Raider manages to snatch a human, all is not lost. The weight of their quarry slows them down and they can only make a slow, vertical ascent. It's at this point when the big points are to be had. Shoot out the Raider, catch the falling human and plonk him down. If he falls too far, the impact will kill him.
Once they reach the top of the screen, though, they turn into ferocious Mutants, hell-bent on your destruction.
Should all your humans buy it before the end of a level, whether through alien snatching, falling to their deaths or whatever, the alien forces will prevail, and you'll be cast out into hyperspace to face a swarm of Mutants. Chances of survival are slim.
Kill all the aliens on a level and you're confronted with the next attack wave. Each alien has a specific duty. Some glide around and drop bombs, others contain spores which home in on you, others simply chase you into the ground.
Okay, so we've got a pretty tight scenario, but you've already got a thousand space shoot-outs, right? What's the difference here?
Playability. Pure and simple. The controls are quite complex; up, down, thrust, fire, reverse, hyperspace and smart bomb. And to begin with trying to catch the falling humans seems impossible; you keep overshooting and missing them entirely. However, once you get the hang of gunning your ship through ever-more densely populated screens, reversing, blasting, jumping and swerving, picking off the aliens, the level of satisfaction soars.
Author: In House
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
Truly excellent conversion of a fine arcade game.
HINTS AND TIPS
1) Use The Hypergates as often as possible. They'll beam you to helpful locations and can save your bacon in tough combat situations.2) Don't fly too fast just for the sake of it. Plan your next target with the scanner, kill it, and then look around for the next hit.3) Once you've collected a couple of humans, put them on the deck as soon as possible. Only try to use the Stargate option if you've already wasted most of the aliens. The chances of getting killed before you reach the Stargate are high and you can get 5x500pts by simply touching the ground.4) Don't blast away out of control. You'll inevitably hit a human on a mountain top or fly into a bullet you've obscured in laserfire.5) Try to avoid flying over the top of a raider and turning round to shoot him. It's easy for them to predict your movements and fire off a shot which you'll fly into.6) Once a raider has snatched a human, kill it as quickly as you can. They fire more shots when they're carrying.
They look innocent enough, and they are! Dynamo Deathpods! They float innocently through space - The Fiends!
A breakdown of the enemies you'll face in the coming levels. Baiters only appear once you've dithered too long but bombers are always present.