Activision Inc
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes

Tony Dillon
Chris Bourne

If you're half as confused as I am, then I'm twice as confused as you. You might have seen ads for a game called SDI, published by Mirrorsoft, one of the Cinemaware range. But this ISNT IT! This is a completely and utterly different game, converted from a Sega coin-op.

What does SDI stand for? If you read the papers you'll know that it stands for Strategic Defence Initiative. So what the pooh does that mean? It's the American plan to put laser-armed satellites in orbit to shoot down incoming nuclear missiles.

At first sight, you might think that SDI is simply an updated version of the classic Missile Command. At second sight, you might think the same thing. You control a spinning laser-armed satellite which moves freely through the majesty of the cosmos. When you press the fire button, a blistering beam of laser energy (in other words a dotted line) shoots out from your laser spondules. Joystick: control then switches to the laser target cursor, and your satellite stands still in space as the laser roves in search of targets.

The targets approach you from all directions; enemy missiles, space fighters, satellites and interceptors in the first stages, and later on whirling saucers, clouds of ionised gas and pods. There are some tremendous explosions as you hit targets, and decent sound effects as they disintegrate. A damage bar at the bottom of the screen shows how close you are to destruction.

After the initial offensive phase, you rendesvouz with a passing space shuttle and move on to the defensive phase. Here, you hover over your city, trying to shoot down any enemy missiles and landers which have got past you in the in the offensive phase.

Between phases there's a status report which shows the percentage of targets you've knocked out. If you've achieved a perfect round, you get a points bonus and a DANCING PENGUIN!!! (Well, that's what it looks like.)

To make things more interesting, some of the satellites eject pods which, when shot and picked up. give you increased speed, multiple cursors and bigger explosions; all of which you'll definitely need on the later levels, when masses of enemies surround you and vie for the honour of smashing you to bits.

As a bonus you have a choice of several control methods; one player with a moving cursor, one player with a fixed cursor (so that moving the satellite changes your aim), or two players, one controlling the satellite and the other guiding the cursor.

Apart from the hideous music and monotonous blue-on-blue-on black colour scheme. SDI is a little gem. It may not feature state-of-the-art 3D animated graphics, icon controls or all the other dooflippery, but it's a mega blast and you can't ask better than that, can you punters?

Label: Activision
Author: Source Software
Price: £8.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Tony Dillon

Surprisingly exciting coin-op conversion; plays even better than it looks.