The Edge
1987
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£7.95
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Alkatraz Protection System

25
Ben Stone, Paul Sumner, Mike Dunn
Chris Bourne

A routine inspection of the exterior of an interstellar liner goes disastrously wrong. The liner's computers malfunction and the ship's second officer is trapped outside in his personal scout craft, or Shadow Skimmer. To return to the safety of the main ship he needs to make his way to the main personal hatch, at the far end of the mother ship. And that means avoiding the ship's security and defence systems, systems that cannot be closed down by Galactic Command.

The exterior hull of an interstellar liner is a complicated, and hostile environment. Radar controlled defences sweep the ship's face for intruding meteors and asteroids, whilst robot craft scavenge across the ship's skin. These systems are non-selective, the Shadow Skimmer stranded outside the mother craft is now the intruder - and is sure to be treated as such. Survival is only possible if the Shadow Skimmer can be piloted across each section of the ship's hull, and its defences countered. No easy task, for each system has been designed to be almost undetectable and virtually indestructible.

The Shadow Skimmer can be piloted to left and right, upwards and down, and can even flip over and fly on its back, in order to negotiate obstacles and barriers that would otherwise be too low. However when in this flying mode, it is more vulnerable to attack, and manoeuvres must be sharper and quicker if it's to survive.

The Skimmer isn't totally defenceless Three energy shields help, but they ' re destroyed by repeated blasts from protecting robot craft or radar systems -and with all three gone, so is the game. Even if the Skimmer's shields are not breached, the craft is easily thrown out of control by blast impact, or on hitting a patrolling robot craft. A display indicates how many shields remain, and a Damage Report panel signals how close you are to losing one.

Powerful pulse lasers are capable of destroying weapons systems found in the mother ship's three hull sectors. In each sector, the defence system must be destroyed before progress can be made to the next. This is done by identifying crucial defence objectives and blasting them with a laser pulse. When a defence objective has been destroyed, barriers previously impassable no longer cause a problem, and the Skimmer can move on.

Forrays under the outer skin of the hull are occasionally necessary. Here, the heart of the defence system must be located, and destroyed before returning to the 'surface '. This is done by hovering above a hatchway, opening it by firing, and moving through.

Once the third sector of the mother ship's hull is reached, the main personal hatch can be found and through this entry made into the mother ship ... and safety.

CRITICISM

'THE EDGE have been disappointing lately, Fairlight II was pretty but unplayable and Shao Lins Road was messy - it also lost out on the gameplay front Shadow Skimmer follows the same trend I'm afraid-there are plenty of ace graphics and a fab tune on the title screen, but the gameplay is annoying and occasionally repellent. The three levels are fairly easy so it shouldn't take too long to play through them, therefore, if you do persevere Shadow Skimmer won't appeal for long. All in all I can't recommend this, it wouldn't keep your average gamesplayer happy for longer than a day or two.' BEN

'Shadow Skimmer contains some of the most attractive bas-relief graphics of any Spectrum game. However the game contains little to do and gets boring after a while. There's too much inertia involved for quick and accurate playing; and I don't like the idea of being thrown around the room whenever you're hit by an enemy. It's off putting and often results in the inescapable situation of being stuck between two aliens. The inter-deck stages are a good idea and make a change from the complicated graphics of the decks. Even though I played Shadow Skimmer for quite a while I could find little to do in it. Worth a look though.' PAUL

'Hmm. I'm not sure what Sinclair User were doing when they said it 'will beat the pants off everything else around for ages,' but still, everyone's entitled to their opinions. The packaging is very nice, and the game graphics are pretty, and well coloured; therefore the screen shots (and SU's quote) might persuade some people to buy a game which I suspect they might not enjoy a lot. That said, Shadow Skimmer is a reasonable game; the ship movement is excellent, very smooth, but when you collide with an enemy, or a missile, it's quite easy to lose your bearings as you go zooming. uncontrollably around the nearby screens. All the presentation and programming is there, but the game itself isn't the greatest concept ever. I found I was starting to get bored after only an hour, which isn't really worth spending £7.95 for.' MIKE

COMMENTS
Control keys
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2, Cursor
Use of colour: very good, varied
Graphics: excellent. Imaginative and well drawn
Sound: good tune, reasonable FX
Skill levels: one
Screens: three scrolling stages, plus inter-deck game
General Rating: Interesting and above average idea gets spoiled by game elements and a lack of playing scope.

74%
85%
61%
61%
60%
62%

Screenshot Text

Shadow Skimmer on the far left explores a mystery space craft.