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English Software
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

Other Links

Gwyn Hughes
Chris Bourne

There are few things sadder than almost making it past all the pitfalls of a great obstacle course only to come a cropper against the final brick wall... and I'm not just talking about playing games.

English Software is a newcomer to the Spectrum, having scored considerable successes with some things called the Commodore (Spit) and the Atari (What that?) They've approached our own particular little eight bit bundle with all the respect it deserves (well, rather more than that, thank de Lawd) but somewhere, something went wrong and they fell at the last fence.

Leviathan is a nice idea - a shoot 'em up out of Uridium paired with Zaxxon. That means plenty of fast flying and blasting as you swoop across a landscape which is seen in diagonally scrolling 3D, changing height and dodging surface features while your radar warns you of approaching aliens.

A lot of work's gone into getting this one right. There are nice sound effects and music on the 48K machine, and when you move into 128 mode the pee-owws of the potshots ricochet handsomely. You even have a choice of three landscapes to glide over, including the relatively innocent Moonscape, the fairly easy Cityscape and the downright dangerous Greekscape, complete with monumental statues.

By now you should be slavering to play this but get a hold on those gastric juices because somewhere along the line playability got sacrificed. The main problem lies in the graphics, which are extremely attractively shaded with a selection of stipples, but which also make your craft difficult to see when you're flying at speed. Time after time I lost sight of my ship or failed to spot a wave of aliens, all because they blended into the background.

Steering could be a little gentler too, with more of a sideways glide than a rather sharp turn. And the Zaxxon-style diagonal play area is a little short, requiring extremely fast manoeuvring if you suddenly find yourself heading into a bunch of nasties. Add to this a temperamental fast load system and you may find yourself looking elsewhere.

All of which is sad, because this could have been so good, and perhaps next time English will drive us all into a patriotic fervour. But for now, file under brave failures.

Nice try at a Zaxxon-style scroller, but diagonal scrolls don't seem to work too well on the Spectrum and playability is low.