In aeons past, when you could go to watch Bolton Wanderers in Division One, get a round in and still have change from a thruppeny bit, a cruel and despotic civilisation stole the Jewels of Ozymandius. They then proceeded to bury them deep beneath the multiple defences of the planet Mergatron.
Anyway, time passed, and to cut a long story short, the price of a pint went up. Bolton Wanderers got relegated, and the cruel and despotic civilisation went the same way as most others - to pot - and left the Jewels just waiting for a brave but stupid hero to try and get them. Stupid? Well you gotta be a spanner short of a full tool kit if you want to try to get past Mergatrons automatic defence mechanisms.
For a start there's the Atomic Disruptors and Molotov Cocktails. These are fixed base gun turrets which start firing bullets with a deadly accuracy as soon as you appear. Then there's the missile turrets, which launch deadly homing missiles at you, as well as moving tanks, which fire bullets. Staying still for too long is ill advised. Why? 'Cos an aeroplane will drop a bouncing bomb on you! And should you manage to reach the end of a level you will encounter legions of meanies just waiting to redistribute your corpuscules in a random manner. That's the bad news, what about the good?
Well, you do have five smart bombs at the beginning, which will clear the screen of all but the end-of-level meanies. And glowing defence beacons are encountered along the way, which, depending on their colour, aid or hinder your advance when shot. Red beacons deliver an extra smart bomb while purple loses a life and so on. An interesting development occurs when blue beacons are destroyed - the controls are reversed, meaning a forward push on the joystick sends you backwards (confused? You be!).
Enough of the game, I hear you cry, how does it play? As good as Wimbledon in a FA Cup Final, that's how. The graphics are really good and varied on the three levels which I managed to see. Level one is on a sort of platform, two is the planet surface, and three, looks like a roadway.
Colour is also used very effectively considering the Spectrum's limitations. There is a great amount of detail, and the thoughtfully used animation all add to the atmosphere of the game. Sound is the usual Splodgy noises, but this goes largely un-noticed as you get progressively sweatier palms -being a hero sure takes it out of you. The ship is very responsive and manoeuvrable, although one tiny niggle is that the missiles or bullets would destroy the ship before contact occasionally.
Although what is here is excellently done, there is nothing new and it is this which stops Marauder hitting the absolute top spot as far as Spectrum gaming is concerned. There is however enough to keep the average arcade freak happy for a good while.
Well implemented and visually attractive vertically scrolling shoot-em-up, but nothing new.