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Mirrorsoft Ltd
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K
Unspecified custom loader

Other Links

Andy Wilton
Chris Bourne

Shoot the moon with Mirrorsoft's mono masterpiece.

If you thought New Zealand was a land of sheep rather than shoot-em-ups, this vertical scroller from NZ team Binary Innovations just might change your mind. The story so far: mad scientist Humpty Bogus has moved on from inventing the digital teabag and landscaping the Moon, now he's going to destroy the Earth. Unless, that is, you can blast through the prof's lunar defences and bomb his Tachyon Vortex super-weapon.

If you're loading the 128K version you'll have to read the inlay for that, but 48K users can catch it as MovieLoad - an illustrated story which unfolds as the game loads. Clever stuff this, and witty too - but then so's the game itself.

At first glance, Moon Strike is nothing new. You fly up a strip of terrain half a screen wide, shooting airborne nasties and bombing static gun-emplacements. Crosshairs a fixed distance in front of your craft act as bomb sights line them up on a ground target, pull back on the stick while pressing fire and then veer off to one side - almost everything on the ground fires at you so flying in a straight line is unhealthy. Fight your way through a whole level of this plus a very nasty fort at the end, and you're onto the next level.

So far so Xevjous-ish, you might think, but graphically the game is full of surprises. You can buzz the Mona Lisa, dodge the flak from deadly coin-slots and blast the marauding light bulbs for all your worth. The scrolling window is all in mono admittedly, but the detail and visual flair of the terrain are very striking. If the wacky humour of it distracts you at crucial moments, well that's all part of the fun.

But don't get the impression that Moon Strike's all graphics and gimmicks: there's plenty of lasting gameplay too, even if it's not so immediately obvious. The action's quite slow if you're watching over someone's shoulder, but once you're in the pilot's seat you'll find it plenty fast enough. Moon Strike's not really about reflexes it's more about weaving through swarms of enemy bullets, using the tiniest of gaps in fire patterns to escape certain death - and this can get very hairy indeed.

Though the flying hazards don't appear in any particular formation, the layout of the ground targets is constant. Learning the game helps your progress a good deal, but the earlier stages aren't a doddle even when you know them well. The forts at the end of each level remain a nasty problem, and only split-second timing will get you past them intact.

There's no particular element of the game that you couldn't find elsewhere - graphics and loading sequence to one side - but Moon Strike does combine those familiar shoot-em-up components exceptionally well. Very addictive, witty and nicely judged too!

Reviewer: Andy Wilton

Spectrum 48k, £7.95cs, Reviewed
Spectrum 128k, £7.95cs, Reviewed
No other versions planned.

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 80/100
1 hour: 70/100
1 day: 70/100
1 week: 70/100
1 month: 60/100
1 year: 30/100

Playability that lasts!

No colour - but it's well-drawn and witty.
Beeps on 48K, pleasant tune on 128K.
Wracks your nerves, not your brain.
Gripping stuff, but tough too!

Screenshot Text

Wrecking an end-of-level fortress: get a bomb right in the centre, or it'll saturate you with bullets and corrosive gas.

Tough opposition. If it moves, shoot it, if it doesn't move, bomb it!