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Steven Tucker, DL
Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Paul Sumner, Kati Hamza, Mark Caswell
Chris Bourne

Long ago, shrouded in the mists of time, there was an arcade game called Breakout. This game was so popular that it spawned a long line of imitators, the latest of which is ASL's Impact.

Following in the normal Breakout gameplay, the player faces 90 screens to be conquered by demolition. 80 are preset, while the remainder are user definable, allowing the player to create screens of his own design.

The majority of bricks only need a single hit to destroy them; others need several; some are indestructible, and to make the situation even more confused, some screens even contain invisible bricks.

Wandering aimlessly around each screen are small aliens, which are destroyed on contact with the bat or ball. Although these aren't harmful themselves, they occasionally release small white bombs which incapacitate the bat momentarily on contact, enabling the ball to escape off-screen and losing the player a life.

When hit, some bricks release yellow tokens which can be used to purchase one of nine pieces of equipment to aid the player in his task. These include slowdown, to reduce the speed of the ball, a torch to light up invisible bricks and lasers for wholesale destruction. Nine icons lie down the right-hand side of the screen, each corresponding to the available items. A black square highlights the currently affordable item and as tokens are gathered the square advances accordingly. If any tokens remain unused at the end of the level, they are converted into an end-of-level bonus.

Five lives are provided at the start, with an extra bat being earned every 50,000 points. On some screens a bonus is attained by destroying in sequence, bricks marked with the letters BONUS. However, hitting them in any other order doesn't gain the player a bean.


'The attraction and addiction of simplistic graphics and elementary gameplay has been no more evident on computers than in the implementation of Breakout on the Spectrum. It's very easy to criticize games of this type (especially Impact) for their uninventive use of the display area and meagre tunes created in what is essentially an easy game to program. You can't deny their addictiveness but, nevertheless, I am appalled to see ASL charging the extortionate (there's no other word for it) price of ten pounds for such a simple game. So you get a designer- but what use is that if you have very few options in the game anyway! Batty and Arkanoid still tussle for the top of the block-bashers purely for their inventiveness and expansion of a very old and lucid concept.' PAUL

'As with most Breakout-type games, the first thing that goes through your mind is, 'Does this game offer anything new to the old tried and tested formula?'. Well, although Impact is a graphically competent game, with some nicety drawn screens and a zippy little ball springing about, there sadly isn't anything new or exciting enough to set it apart from the crowd of other variants. Saying that, I did enjoy playing the game for quite a while, but I feel that as there are so many games of the same type around, you may already have one better than this.' MARK

'Impact, the publicity claims, is all set to hit your screens with a bang... a whimper would be more appropriate. The presentation and gameplay are polished but not outstanding; the graphics are colourful and the sound is adequate. Gameplay is addictive (isn't it always) and If you get bored of trying to master 80 screens there's always the construction set. The idea of catching credits to buy a limited variety of bonus features is new but doesn't really add much interest to the game. There are no unexpected transformations of bat and ball as you flit boldly across the bottom of the screen collecting bonuses. More annoying is the disintegration of the bat before it becomes clear that the ball isn't going to hit it: the computer is always just ahead of the graphics. If you're addicted to this sort of game then the construction set makes it a worthwhile addition to your collection. For dabblers in the genre, though, it doesn't offer anything special enough to rate as an investment.' KATI

Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: little imagination shown
Sound: inexcusably poor
Options: ten user-definable screens
General Rating: The genre may be old, but there's no lack of scope.


Screenshot Text

Less of an impact on the Spectrum.