Piranha
1986
Arcade: Adventure
£9.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

108,109
Graham Taylor
Chris Bourne

It says something for 2000AD that it has been the source of so many ideas for computer games.

Now Piranha has lifted out Rogue Trooper to Fight on the Spectrum.

Rogue Trooper, a sort of mutant Rambo of the future, battles alone against a relentless foe. His mission - to destroy a traitor who betrayed Rogue's GI buddies. The buddies are not actually dead. Their personalities are stored on microchips and in destroying the traitor Rogue will win their release. As you can see there is going to be a lot of serious killing in this game.

The game look visually very like Commando presented as a 3D scrolling game, big sprites and a true sense of perspective. This is good.

The gameplay is fairly complex - aside from destroying very many things, there are little icons representing the chipped buddies who offer advice ('kill, kill, kill', mostly) and things like stamina levels to be maintained etc. This is also good.

There are eight tapes to be collected - video recordings which together provide the evidence necessary to convict the traitor - and I found four of them on my second attempt at the game. This, I would have thought, is bad.

The game, though maybe not state of the art graphically is certainly in the first division. Big sprites which trot along (it has to be said that Rogue's walk is not very macho - more carefree really) smoothly and quite detailed backgrounds. The restriction to two-colour gives no attribute clash but makes things a little difficult to see on some screens - particularly yellow on white is a bit distracting.

Although clearly a large part of the point of the game is kill and not being killed, the speed at which everything happens is very restricted. Because of the large number of big sprites moving about at the same time it's all a bit slow and this detracts seriously from the challenge of the game. It is comparatively difficult to be caught unawares and your fire button is hardly likely to suffer damage when your bullets stroll nonchalantly across the screen.

The game is large (100+ screens) and there is some variety to the landscapes - mixed areas of desert, barbed wire and burnt-out ruins. The latter are more exciting since there is an opportunity to shoot through holes in the walls (tricky programming stuff that) and use corners as cover. Things almost get exciting.

Whilst shots from assorted enemies are relatively ineffective - you need to be hit a lot of times before it matters much - treading on a mine is instant death. This would be a source of potential tension in the game were it not for the fact that it is quite easy to avoid them. The only time I died from a mine was when moving from one screen to the other.

The problem with Rogue Trooper is that it has the wrong plot for this style of game. The slick big graphics cause the speed of movement to be restricted and that means it can't succeed as a high-action blast 'em game.

Conversely there isn't really enough in it to turn it into a 'find the objects and figure out what to do with them' affair.

I think most people will find it visually impressive, but slow, unexciting and all too easy.

Label: Piranha
Author: Design Design
Price: £9.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

***

Nice to look at but just not fast enough to crack it as the sort of arcade action game it is supposed to be.

3/5

Banner Text

Second only to Dredd in 2000AD mythology, Trooper is another lone man dispensing his own kind of justice in an inhospitable and barren landscape.

His objective has always been vengeance - to find the traitor who turned his buddies into biochips and perhaps even return them to life.

In Nu-Earth where everybody else is crazed, Rogue Trooper is the only one still sane - and sometimes even that is in doubt.