Thalamus Ltd
1989
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£8.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
None

81
Nick Roberts, Mike Dunn, Mark Caswell
Chris Bourne

A new Cold War has begun, the Americans and Russians are at each other' s throats, and when the USA's 'Star Wars ' x satellites malfunction the world s teeters on the brink of nuclear war. Then there's a crash In the Artic Circle - Is it the Soviet spaceship responsible for the malfunction? Tap NASA scientists are rushed to the crash site. A blizzard is blowing but it doesn't take too long to decide the weird metals, and green, scaley crew aren't Russian. Allen datafiles are swiftly translated.

It turns out the aliens are part of a vast galactic empire which has been watching Earth for centuries. As Mankind has become ever more technologically advanced, the aliens have become increasingly worried. To prevent any challenge to their empire the alien despatched a Culture Technician to manipulate Mankind into a nuclear apocalypse. The 'Star Wars' malfunction was the aliens' latest dirty trick.

Somewhat concerned by this the Americans have urgent talks with the Russians, and together the two superpower set up Project Damocles. Ripping off the alien ship's hi-tech a fleet of Sanxion spaceships were built to protect Earth against the Galactic hordes. Needless to say if the game were genuinely realistic the Sanxion force wouldn't have a chance...

...and they don't. Aliens zoom in at great speed, pump out tons of very fast bullets and often take a lot of hits to destroy. No-one's going to save Earth this time without lots and lots of practice learning the alien attack patterns.

Graphical presentation isn't too impressive to start with, all the action's in monochrome, but the backgrounds are nicely detailed, the ship reacts as speedily as you could want (I wish the same could be said far my hand) and all twelve levels are crammed into a single 48K load. Sound effects are a bit sparse, but the title music is good, with 128K owners having a different version of the program complete with two long, and excellent tunes.

Sanxion's only really novel feature is the overhead scanner, which shows a bigger part of the play area, acting as a warning of attack. Unfortunately it doesn't show whether the aliens are grouped high or low, which is often crucial. All you have to fight back is a single laser cannon, which fires slightly faster if collect a 'P' icon. At the end of each level there's the obligatory super-alien. Kill him with plenty of seconds left on the timer and get lots of bonus points.

This is a very fast and hard shoot-'em-up, which should keep you tearing out your hair for ages.

MARK ... 83%

CRITICISM

'Well, this is Thalamus's first release on the Spectrum and it's pretty darn good. All the graphics are well animated and look good despite being monochromatic. That is until you encounter the first wave of aliens! Your first handful of goes won't get you anywhere because the aliens are just thrown at you and come whizzing past without hardly any warning. The only way you can get anywhere is by memorising the alien formations and the directions they come. 128K and 48K versions both have reasonable tunes and for some unknown reason the 48K game has more sound effects than its 128K counterpart. Sanxion may be excruciatingly difficult at first but things soon get better and the addictive qualities vastly improve.' NICK ... 84%

'The C64 version of Sanxion was an ancient (and excellent) beast, and I've waited long enough for the conversion! Now it's here and every bit as good as I hoped. The only major problem is thee difficulty level, which is a bit high, to say the least! Still, this is only good for the lastability... It's also a pity the background colours don't change but the graphic characters are very well defined, and playability is high. My favourite feature though, is the absolutely superb 128K title tunes. This is a good value shoot-'em-up - buy it!' MIKE ... 89%

Fast, ferociously difficult and very playable.

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