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Faster Than Light
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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Rachael Smith
Chris Bourne

Lightforce is the first release from the new Gargoyle label, Faster Than Light, and it's a shoot 'em up. Remember Imagine's Arcadia? Well, this is the same thing three years on, with the addition of vertical scrolling and super-large characters.

You start the game in an asteroid shower, which should warn you that things can only get worse. Your simple choice is to dodge them or blast them. The way to survive is a combination of these two, which should get you through to the first alien craft. You then have to score multiple hits on its control chambers if you want an extra life.

But, of course, the enemy is well protected, with craft that drop down - only you can't blast these! And things have hardly started to get difficult yet, because the enemy fighters perform elaborate little dances. Before you can say Red Arrows, they're weaving all over the place dropping bombs on you.

Nobody could deny that Lightforce looks nice, and you'd expect nothing less of a Gargoyle game. But it doesn't quite seem to have captured the elements that make a shoot 'em up totally addictive. Instead it becomes frustrating and though the graphics move fast for their size, they seem rather sluggish on-screen. So though it's definitely not a 40 watt bulb on a snail, it's not Faster Than Light either.