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Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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Mark Caswell, Nick Roberts
Chris Bourne

One of two Grandslam Sego coin-op based releases this month, Scramble Spirits is set in the 21st century and is a six level, vertical scrolling shoot-'em-up that pits either one or two players against a mysterious enemy. Your craft looks outdated for this technologically advanced time, but its weaponry isn't too bad: spray bullets and bombs for ground based targets. And you need all the weaponry you can get your gloved hands on - the enemy literally pour at you in a wide range of deadly air and ground craft.

Life would be short indeed if it weren't for some unexpected help: occasionally enemies, when shot, drop useful little gadgets called Outriders - small drones which can be picked up (a maximum of two at any given time). Use them to boost your firepower, or in sticky situations hold down the fire button to hurtle them at the enemy with explosive effect. No game of this type would be complete without end of level abominations, in this case huge mechanical monsters: make sure you're equipped with Outriders!

If enemies make life difficult just wait for the graphics - where are the sun glasses? Hunt for the character sprite seems to be the programmers' motto: planes, guns, tanks etc are monochromatic, but the background colours are so garish it's difficult to keep track of yourself.

Being a sucker for punishment even this drawback did not quite kill the fun for me, and if this sort of shoot-'em-up format gets to you, Scramble Spirits is worth a try.

MARK ... 72%


'Hmm, remember Dragon Spirit? Well, Scramble Spirit is basically it with different graphics! A shoot- 'em-up in the same style as billions of others. One good thing about the game is that all the graphics are of really good quality, with lots of detail on all the sprites. Where it's let down is in the colour department. Monochrome all round I'm afraid, and this of course makes it difficult to see what's going on in the game. Sound is a bit better with a reasonable tune and spot effects. Scramble Spirits is totally unoriginal, but then so was the arcade machine, so perhaps it's a brilliant conversion! If you fancy a frantic bash at a fire button then try this.' NICK ... 69%

An eye-wrecking version of a hackneyed theme with enough thump for fire-button addicts.