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Domark Ltd
1991
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£10.99
English
ZX Spectrum 128K
SpeedLock 7

53
Andy Ide
Chris Bourne

Let's face it, folks - these Tengen deals are doing Domark no favours at all. I mean excuse me for being so blunt, but, erm, they're completely crap, aren't they? STUN Runner, Skull And Crossbones, and now Hydra - we're talking turkeys of the highest order here!

"Good grief" you exclaim, "Andy's on a bit of a rant!" And indeed I am. But with due cause.

You see, every six months or so Domark ask Tengen if they can convert one or two of their rather successful coin-ops. The answer is usually yes, so long as they fork out for a couple of incredibly crap ones too. Yes, I know it sounds a bit dodgy, but that's the way it works - it the good stuff balances out with the bad then everything's okay.

Except it's not! Because everything's turning crap! Take a look at last year. Why didn't Klax and Robot Monsters get Megagames? After all, they were supposed to be the 'golden eggs' of the pack. Instead they were just very good games, but slightly unoriginal.

And things are even more out of whack this year. Okay, so RBI2 wasn't bad, but why did they cock up badly with STUN Runner? After the event, everyone makes the excuse that it was an impossible conversion - but then why buy it in the first place?! As for Skull And Crossbones, Linda found it reasonably appealing (as she'll tell you over on page 54) but she managed get to Level Six of an eight level game in no time at at all.

Nope, Domark are letting themselves down badly. Sure, they've got much better deals elsewhere (like the Incentive ones for Castle Master and 3D Contstruction Kit - which is where they get their real hits from) but, so far as the Speccy goes, Tengen take up the most room. Meanwhile a budgie house like the Codies simply trash these conversions straight into the ground. And at £10 less a throw. It's a joke! (So get. ready to laugh at this...)

(BLIMEY! AT LAST!)

Hydra wasn't exactly a corker in the arcades, and it brimming well isn't here either. You play a speedboat courier, zipping off round the world (and into the screen) to deliver lots of Top Secret packages.

There are nine missions (making up 31 levels), and the aim is to avoid being shot by international terrorists and hang on to enough fuel to get you through to the end of each level. Crystal petroleum pick-up thingies bob up and down in the water for you to scoot through, and there are similar 'floaties' to help you boost up your, er, 'boost' power (which makes you fly. Well, it lifts you about two feet off the ground anyway).

There's also a bonus level called the Hydradome, which is a sort of psychedelic obstacle course that you've got to race round in order to visit Ziggy's Weapon 'Shoppe' and stock up on ammo and shields. And, er, that's it. (Well, it probably isn't but I'm buttocked if I'm going to say anything else about it.)

EXCEPT THAT...

The graphics look as though they're only half finished (if that) and are pretty jerky. All the sprites are blurry and indistinct (except for your boat up at the front of the screen), and there's no attempt to reproduce any kind of river effect. (In fact, it may as well be a road - Hydra plays very much like a cruddy version of Roadblasters.) As for any sense of speed and danger, well, that really is in short supply. The game seems to end when you run out of fuel which means it hasn't got the edge to keep you really involved, and certainly the first couple of levels are a cinch to get through.

Nope, there's simply nothing to recommend Hydra. For all it cares, it may as well have come out in 1985. (And the Speccy's progressed an awful long way since then.) So, er, let's just keep our fingers crossed for Thunderjaws, eh?

Completely crap Tengen coin-op conversion about speedboats. Don't even think about it.

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HOW MUCH IS THAT UZI IN THE WINDOW?

Once you've sleepwalked your way through the Hydradrome you can go and spend lots of creds in Ziggy's Weapon Shoppe. There's a selection of lots of juicy ammo and it all looks something like this...*

ANTI-GRAV $15000

Speaks for itself really. Similar to the boost thingy.

SHIELD $5000

The shield enables you to 'pass through' objects and not get blown up.

FLAMER $5000

Burn 'em!

UZI $10000

A perennial favourite, the uzi's got some pretty rapid cannon fire.

BOMBS $10000

Kabooosh!!!

NUKE $15000

Nukes get rid of everything on the screen (no surprises there).

6 WAY $15000

And these trace the nearest baddy and kill 'im

(* Not that you'll necessarily want any of it of course.)

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The second level now, and we're all stocked up with rather a nice little flamethrower to fry the baddies with. Hurrah!

Mmm. Not too much lovely scenery about, is there? (Oh, and those blurry things coming at you are boats. Apparently.)