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

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61
Marcus Berkmann
Chris Bourne

You know, you're jinxed. I mean, every officer on a Star Class Liner has to take one jaunt out on a reccy in his five years' service, and nowt's gone wrong before. But when you shoot off in your Shadow Skimmer for a quick loop-de-loop through deep space, the computer goes haywire and sets off the automated defence system. When you try to fly back in for your tea and biccies, things start firing at you. And no-one's got through that defence system yet. You're on your own...

Oh well, can't be helped.

So, on a one-way ticket to certain doom, you've got all three hull sectors to get through and not much time to do it in. On every level there's some bit of hardware you've got to discomknockerate (Do what? Ed) before you can move on. The sleeve notes are in fact intentionally vague - part of the fun in playing Shadow Skimmer is working out how to play it. So I don't want to give too much of the play away (I always preferred Play School myself). Let's just say that you should investigate the hatchways at every opportunity.

Time is the crucial commodity in this game. Whenever you're hit you lose a bit more of it, and though there are points to be had from shooting everything that moves, you can't really afford to hang around. It's more important to avoid being hit, even though it won't necessarily impress the high score table. Your craft moves quickly, and the illusion of skimming across the ship's surface is very convincing, rather like sliding over ice but with more control.

So where does Shadow Skimmer fit into the grand scheme of things? It's hard to say. Although the graphics are Uridium with knobs on, its much easier to get through most of the screens 'cos more often than not, there's not a lot firing at you. Still the brilliance of the screen display doesn't sabotage the gameplay at all. The Edge has approached the old problem in an interesting new way - by not making the game screen-heavy and just concentrating on keeping it tight and difficult. So there aren't 472 different levels to explore, just three, but to get through all three before your time runs out is a fair old challenge. One thing your Skimmer can do is flip over Uridium-style. This lets it go under certain barriers, while making it more vulnerable to attack. But which barriers? And are there lots of 'em?

Shadow Skimmer's another winner from The Edge, even if it does skim the surface in more ways than one. Once you've finally managed to get through it, you're unlikely to come back for more, and I suspect that the real nutters will complete it quickly. But for plodders like me, it's a good thoughtful game which needs a bit of brainwork along with the usual lightning reactions, There's no shadow of a doubt!

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