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Martech Games Ltd
1988
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£8.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
None

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46
Richard Blaine
Chris Bourne

I was glad to see this offering - Mega Apocalypse, which has an unassuming little name that trips easily off the tongue, and makes no claims about being an accurate simulation of anything. No, the cassette insert is a lot like Your Sinclair's editorial team: brutal and short (just a joke guys, honest...). No frills, no poncing around - 'You have been selected to explore the universe, boldly seeking out strange and exciting new worlds. If you find any, your instructions are quite clear. BLAST THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS OUT OF THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!' I may not have got the exact number of exclamation marks right, but you get the general drift.

Once it was all loaded, I was a bit disappointed. Id been expecting something well mega, and the first screen was a let down. Your triangular ship is up against three rocket ship type thingies, which have all the stamina of soap bubbles. You can move up and down and left and right on the screen, although you can't change the direction your ship is facing - not at first anyway. Even so, if the idea was not to kill these first targets, it would be more challenging!

Anyway, once through this first screen, you're up against the attack of the killer planetoids. Three or four of these first appear as tiny specks, which get progressively bigger as they bounce around the screen. They can't harm you until they've become fully sized planets with craters on - if they run into you then, you're dead meat. You can kill them with one shot when they're small, but the bigger they get, the more damage you have to do to destroy them.

Then its onto the rocket ship type thingies again, plus some cometoids which blow you apart if they get anywhere near you. This screen is a lot more challenging: in fact, its blimmin' frustrating, especially as the comets seem to have been programmed to follow you around the screen! In addition to the thingies and the cometoids, you also get some strange shaped blobs, and these seem to give you extra powers when you hit them.

In the screen that follows - back to the baby planetoids, only they grow faster, or seem to - my ship seemed to have been equipped with special thrusters that meant I could rotate it. Unfortunately, they didn't come with instructions on their use, so I spent ages cartwheeling around the screen. I finally worked out that it had something to do with the fire button. Every time I fired, I rotated 45'. Every so often, I also managed to pick up something which gave me a continuous fire capability - very useful, but I do wish I knew what I did to deserve it! Thinking about it, it may not have been the blobs at all, but the rocket ships...

Anyway, the next screen pits man against a fully grown planetoid: I can't tell you what comes after that, as I haven't been able to outwit the lump of rock yet. It's not easy, dodging something the size of Ceres (the largest of the asteroids, you know), in an area the size of a TV screen. I suppose I could get a bigger TV screen.

And that, as they say, is that. First impressions - that this one is a dud - are misleading: it grows on you as time goes by. I found myself getting quite into it after about half an hour, even though my score went down the more games I played. But it doesn't have the grabbability, so, normally, I would predict a reasonable but not astounding future for this one. But it is a conversion of what is apparently an immensely popular game for the CBM64, and I have a suspicion a lot of people are going to ignore rather bland graphics and somewhat turgid gameplay, and just buy it so they can see what their mates with Commies have been wittering about.

Fair if tricky conversion of the excellent Commodore shoot 'em up. Probably more fun than it first appears.

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