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Shahid Ahmad
Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K
SpeedLock 5

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Marcus Berkmann
Chris Bourne

Word has it that this little number fell into Activision's lap from nowhere, which may be why the usual hoohah has been conspicuous by its absence. But I can see why Nihilist wouldn't be an easy game to promote in these dull licence-obsessed days. it's a curious game, the sort that reminds you of loads of others on the market while remaining curiously distinctive. Let me explain.

You are a droid (heard that before, anyone?) seeking to kill four omega droids, and indeed any other lesser droids you can lay your, er, wheels on. Knowledge of the Greek alphabet comes in useful here, as there are eight ranks of droid from the lowly alphas (α) to the powerful omegas (Ω), all labeled by the appropriate symbols. You work your way up through these ranks by knocking off your opponents (which tend to travel in predictable patterns) and getting through the game in one piece.

The view is from above a la Gauntlet, but the graphics are markedly different, and the features various. Teleports allow access to different areas, while weaponry squares allow you to upgrade your weapons (or get some in the first place). To become a α-droid you must drain energy from seven ionisers that you'll find around the place - these'll also keep you alive. You can weaken droids by ramming them (although this is not recommended if they're bigger than you) or by shooting them. Terminals allow you to log on and receive messages, rather like Impossible Mission, and the labyrinthine map of the spaceship (if that's what you're in - who can tell?) is connected by automatically opening doors (easy) and dangerous force fields (hard) for which you need passes - all a bit like Rasterscan. See what I mean about comparison points?

Going further, I find myself thinking very much of Martech's Pulsator (pretty underrated, I thought) in graphical style and handling, while the gameplay has elements of the multu-level map 'n' scrap of Into The Eagle's Nest. The different ranks of nasty, and the different ranks of weapons you need to kill them, remind me of RanaRama. but the real comparison point, as C64 fans may have sussed out, is Andrew Braybrook's Paradroid, the game they said could never be translated to the Speccy. Well, someone seems to have had a pretty good go here, Andrew...

Still, countless fine games in the past have blagged ideas aplenty from other games, so let's not moan too much. While Nihilist is far from a megagame (actually that's not true - it's on my desk here next to Nipper II), it's a jolly little package which'll appeal to many - me included. Worth a punt if you liked Pulsator, Rasterscan, Eagle's Nest...

Well implemented arcade adventure (with distinctly zappy elements) in the style of Paradroid and virtually everything else!