Quicksilva Ltd
1987
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£8.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
None

52,53
Graham Taylor
Chris Bourne

Red Scorpion could have been called TauGlider.

If you imagine a plot like Tau Ceti with Tau Cetiish shapes but presented using Starglider vector graphics you've got 80 per cent of what Red Scorpion is all about.

This isn't a big criticism it may even be a recommendation - if you really liked those two games there is a fair chance you'll like this.

The plot blurb runs to a good few paragraphs but can be reduced to this: you control an infantry attack craft that zooms over the surface of assorted Bombyx moons. The moons contain Talanite (valuable stuff, probably related to Teflon) which is currently being ripped off by the completely-evil-in-every-way Necron empire. Your mission is to blast the Necrons off the moons without alienating the native population by blowing up centres of population, farms and other non-military targets. Getting this bit wrong means instant court marshal and the end of the game.

Apart from that the game is just finding the objects to destroy and using one weapon system or another and blowing Necrons into little pieces. They, of course, may feel like firing back.

The tricky stuff: the main problem is that some extremely dangerous objects are invisible under normal lighting conditions - you therefore have to toggle your cockpit display systems between four modes, natural light, infra-red, ultra-violet and microwave the last three of which allow you to see through camouflage, fast moving objects, underground objects or Talanite.

The only clue you get about what mode you need to be in is a series of letters which light up at the side of the cockpit screen indicating, for example, that there is something buried nearby. Other letters helpfully indicate that some sort of missile is about to hit...

The Red Scorpion is equipped with shields as its basic defence mechanism - these slowly lose power as you are hit and if they drop to zero the next one will be your last. In extremis you can call for battlecruiser fire support from the Zhukov - a gigantic space battlecruiser which is in orbit. This blows up everything in the vicinity but drains shield power. Your defence system also allows you to destroy incoming missiles by matching your ship's wave pattern with that of the missiles - it works very much like the wave-form feature in Zoids - you move between various wave patterns trying to spot the ones that match as quickly as possible, ie before you explode in a ball of flame. The last option is to run away very quickly.

The graphics - well - if you've seen Starglider you'll know the sort of thing to expect - geometric shapes of various sorts, some simple, some moderately complicated.

They aren't animated, as such, but the movement routines have them moving around the screen moderately smoothly. The planet's surface is a large grid matrix - largely featureless.

The various command options - missiles selects etc - are operated via another one of those pointless icon systems where the icon looks like nothing in particular thereby negating its whole purpose. Anyway it's tolerable.

The game plays fairly well, but in the end it's just a glorified zap em-up and lacks both Tau Ceti's wide range of missions and Starglider's technical sophistication.

Label: Quicksilva
Author: In-house
Price: £7.96
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

****

A cross between Tau Ceti and Starglider but not quite as good as either. Nevertheless the vector graphics are pretty good.

4/5