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

66
Gwyn Hughes
Chris Bourne

When the gormless one asked what I was doing and I told her I was a bounty hunter, she said she preferred Milky Ways. I ask you! Has she never heard of those mercenaries who go off in search of a fistful of intergalactic dollars?

Well, they might gain a few credits in this game, but they also receive a fistful of keys. Red Scorpion is a tank, you see, and we all know what tank games mean, don't we, software historians? Yes, our old friend Battlezone makes a welcome (well, sort of) reappearance, just when you thought it was safe to return to the vector landscape.

This is a very special Battle-zone though, and the major point in its favour is the quality of that line 3D. Okay, you say, so they should have got it right after all these years. Well, they have, and the objects you encounter move fast and spin smoothly. Shoot them and they even shatter debris all over you. The ground itself seems to slide by like a ploughed field as you glide over its lines.

All well and good, and if blasting was all there was to it you'd have a game of guaranteed, if rather limited, addictiveness. But it seems that every formula needs elaboration nowadays, at least in the eyes of the game designers - and this is where all those keys come in.

Being a high tech sort of jalopy, your Scorpion is equipped with a dazzling array of aids to attack and defence. I presume they're aids to defence, though as far as I was concerned, the enemy might have put them there to hamper you, because every so often you have to switch your fingers from the joystick to the keyboard to activate a weapon or night sight.

With a whole row of keys to remember it can become more like a typing exercise. Maybe it's just a personal preference, but I like games where I can get into the action without having to remember a whole row of keys. I'm sure that I'd learn them if I persisted, but by then I think I'd have lost interest.

There are other interesting additions though, including friendly units which you mustn't shoot on any account, unless you want to be court-martialled, which means you need to know your wire-frame. And do read the inlay notes - very satirical, indeed! But in the end the control system is too clumsy for my liking, and only serves to detract from the speed of the action.

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