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Cascade Games Ltd
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K

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David McCandless
Chris Bourne

The story so far: Earth is the buckle in the universe's belt: a fragrant lump of granite where all is good, big and self-righteous (a bit like America you could say), when suddenly a squadron of armoured, alien battle-planets appear on the fringe of the solar system. These RingWorlds - as they are named - move silently and insidiously into each planetary system, with the earth and galactic conquest in their sights.

It's up to you, lone fighter pilot, the man with the flying skills and sexual prowess to match them, to take on the RingWorlds and alien mothership and blast them into Monday.

Your view of the universe is the typically wire-frame/oncoming stars one, not dissimilar from Elite. A target sits smugly in the centre of the screen, a meeting point for your lasers. It can be moved cleverly off screen in each direction to provide a flick-screen panoramic view of the vacuum around you.

Alert messages flash on the screen, informing you of the planetary systems under attack. Uranus is normally first (insert your own milkman/microwave joke here). Your navigation system must be selected before you can warp to that planet's aid.

"Navigation" provides you with a diagrammatic view of the solar system (a la Elite again) and there's a choice of either womping straight to the RingWorld or going for a quick lunar holiday on one of the picturesque moons.

The only way Jo actually destroy a RingWorld is by entering through its exhaust port, and then planting a thermonuclear warhead in the reactor (it beats me why all these "invulnerable" death star things always have these stupid tunnels).

The RingWorld's drone craft try and prevent you from accessing the port. They attack you from all sides and angles, belching missiles and lasers. You, in return, have to master the panoramic view movement and overheat the laser somewhat. Once inside, finding the reactor is a simple case of following the signs and avoiding the energy balls.

Then when you've planted the bomb (giving yourself enough time to escape) and jetted out of the system, there is time to visit a moon and restore some energy and fuel.

The graphics are the usual wire-frame type. Because none are particularly complex they move fast and smoothly. The graphical representations of the planetary system with cute orbiting moons are good. The game is quite involving. The satisfying explosions, the fast and realistic alien movements and sub-games all contribute to the gamplay.

It's difficult not to draw any parallels with Elite, since the games are so similar. Elite as the edge though with its strategic element and weapon add-on ability.

I liked it. The attraction is wired together with the challenging scope of the game and addictive qualities.

Unoriginal plot, but technically superb wired frame graphics with action, lasers and planets to land on.