They're disgusting. They're slimy, They'll suck your brains out. No, they're not estate agents - they're the aliens in Alien Syndrome, one of the most eagerly-awaited coin-op conversions of recent months. It's here, and all things considered, it's pretty good. Of course, you aren't going to get a faithful version of the coin-op on the Spectrum; the colour's gone, the sampled sound effects have gone, but the action and the sliminess remain.
Set on a multi-level space station complex, each level of which is loaded separately from tape, the game involves more mindless blasting than you'll have seen since Gauntlet. The stations are infested with hideous alien life forms, and you must battle through them to rescue your ten comrades from each level. A time bomb has been set to destroy each level, so don't mess about.
You can choose to play either a hunky man. Rick, or a curvaceous bimbo, Mary, though this doesn't make any difference to the gameplay. There's also a two-player mode where both characters can compete, but you must be careful not to shoot your comrade.
The huge playing areas are shown in a sort of flip-scroll display which works quite nicely. Around each complex are dotted map displays, which show the general layout of the complex, your position and those of your comrades; and lockers containing alternative weapons. Once you have rescued ten of your friends, you can make your way to the exit at the top of the screen. That's when things start getting really disgusting.
The inter-level guardians are the most obscene masses of quivering protoplasm you've ever seen; crosses between insects, foetuses and blancmanges which spurt boiling phlegm at you. If you can do it without gagging, concentrate your fire on them as they slop around. When they explode, watch out for the flying limbs; they're still deadly and must be shot or avoided. After that you get a bonus according to your speed and efficiency, and a prompt to load the next level.
Each level is of a different type; on some, you have narrow causeways, on others, complex corridors. The aliens change too; on level one, squirmy maggots which sit up and spit at you; level two, boiling pits of hammer-headed monstrosities.
It's simple and straightforward, and it's non-stop blasting. If you like Gauntlet you'll like this, but in my opinion it's even better; true, there are hordes of aliens, but each one forms an individual target, rather than them merging into a boring mass. Great pukey fun.
Label: The Edge
Author: Pamela Roberts
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
Exciting and stomach-churning; a fast-moving coin-op conversion.
SHOT BLASTERYour basic weapon, fast-firing but with limited range. Trade it in as soon as you can.BOMBWider range of destruction, but still limited range. Most useful in wide open areas.FIREBALLAlmost totally useless. Worse than the Shot Blaster.OPTIONA protective droid which follows you around guarding your back. Dead useful and can be used in conjunction with other weapons.LASERThe business! Long range, very destructive, ideal for use against end-of-level guardians. Get it and hang on to it.Keep moving. The aliens shoot at your current position, so if you stands still you'll get dead. Fire all the time - you can't hurt your friends.Use diagonals. Most of the aliens only shoot horizontally or vertically, so a slanting attack will catch them by surprise.When you destroy a level guardian, don't stand still or the bits will get you. Keep shooting.Steer carefully on the causeways - one wrong step and you'll plunge to oblivion.