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Martech Games Ltd
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K

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Jonathan Davies
Chris Bourne

Clichesville, Alabama. The town is restless. The boys from Dusty's place are running riot. Raping, pillaging and generally smashing the place up. There's only one thing for it... call in Quick Hand Luke.

Bang! Bang! Peeeow! Zing! Cue digitised horsed hooves, ricochet noises! Yeeharr!

At least, that's what I was hoping. Fruitlessly, it turns out, cos Shoot Out is nothing more than a 1953 move-the-cursor-round-the-screen-and-zap-everything game, based on the kind of idea that used to have Vic-20 owners wringing their hands in glee.

To be sure, there are two different levels. First, shoot all the tin cans lined up on the fence within a time limit. (Quite how this helps the long-suffering townsfolk is beyond me?) Then, wander along the street blasting baddies as they appear in the windows. Some of them are unarmed, but others have an annoying habit of firing back if you're not quick enough on the trigger.

See what I mean? Just about everybody's tried writing a game like this at some point in their career, and they always get totally slated, so why does Martech think it's going to get away with this one? Especially as it's made the fatal error of putting screen shots on the back of the box.

Ah, the graphics are excellent though. Nicely drawn, well animated and smoothly scrolled. But how does that help when the game itself is totally, utterly, completely and without exception... boring! Two minutes of it and I'd had enough. Yeurch! Spit!

And as if that wasn't enough, the cursor won't stay still. The flippin' thing whizzes around all of its own accord, so hitting anything is very much down to chance. Obviously a 'special feature' or something...

It would have been nice to have had a little atmospheric music playing in the background to liven things up a bit. Or how about a few extra levels in addition to the endless repeats of the two that are already there? Even if it meant, dare I say it, multiloading? Nope. Nothing of the sort.

This is a real armpit of a game which needs a thorough taking back to the drawing board. There's potential in them thar graphics, but the rest of it should have been pensioned off years ago. Unless you've escaped from an asylum for incurable Dragon 32 owners, or have just been sucked through a time-warp from the 18th century, avoid it like a strawberry-flavoured Quality Street.

Wake me up in an hour or two, would you?

Bog-standard shooting things with a cursor game. Very, very boring indeed.