Oh dear, bit embarrassing this one; let me elucidate. Side Arms is a coin-op conversion that arcade freaks have been awaiting with baited breath. What's so embarrasing about that?? Pin back your shell-likes and I'll tell you.
"I spent many hours (and spondiels) in the arcades playing the original....," "Okay, I wasn't expecting exact reproduction of the graphics but.....," "The overall feel has been retained at the expense of the......" These are the kind of comments expected in a review of this type, but the touble is (ulp!), I don't go to arcades very much. The last time I was in one I scored 190 points on, eeeerm ("Go on, go on"), well, on Asteroids actually. Crikey, confession may be good for the soul, but it's a bit tough on the credibility. If you're an arcade freak I offer my apologies and suggest you check out the screen-shots. Grovel. As for the rest of you, hold your breath - I now give you Side Arms (Well, I don't actually give it to you, that would cost me about £800,000, but you know what I mean).
In this monochrome right to left scroller you control a gun-toting 'flying space commando' who has to shoot the oncoming aliens. Trouble is Spec-chums, that the gun our hero starts off with is a bit, well, naff really. This coupled with a low stamina level (inducing sluggish movement), doesn't auger too well for prolonged survival. Just as well then that your gun can be upgraded and your stamina levels replenished. Phew!!! Bet you thought we were all 'goners' for a minute there. Anyway, this is how the upgrading system works:
The killing of certain aliens results in the appearance of a small bubble icon. Shooting the bubble will turn it (with each progressive shot) into a series of differently shaped icons which, when flown over, will credit you with new weapons or, of course, bonus stamina. There are five weapons available to you, the ones you possess being indicated at the bottom of the screen. You can access them via the keyboard, once you do actually have them, and as you've probably guessed they each have their own worth, depending on your situation.
So you boing around the screen shooting the aliens as the scenery scrolls inexorably behind you; until suddenly it doesn't! You're now above a tunnel shaft and there's a mega-nasty to dispose of. A biggy, by cracky. Kill it and then sit back as you descend slowly (!) to the next level. And so on.
The graphics (monochrome as I said), are pretty uninspiring throughout - functional but uninspiring. You'd have thought the chaps at Go! could have tried a bit harder, especially as there were no attribute problems to contend with. I mean, look what Hewson managed to pull out of the sack with the brillo Exolon, even with the possible colour probs.
Graphics aside though, I must say that Side Arms is actually quite addictive - the aliens follow set flight patterns, so positioning yourself for maximum effect is a learnable process. The frustration factor is set about right, but all in all the game is a trifle, (how can I say this nicely) eerm, shoddy.
Let's put it this way: seeing as this conversion has been so eagerly awaited by so many arcade stalwarts. I have to come to the conclusion that the final result is just a teensy weensy bit of a turkey (gobble, gobble). Unless of course the Speccy version is a remarkably accurate conversion of the coin-op. In which case I'm afraid that it's the 'arcade stalwarts' that are the turkeys for rating it so highly in the first place. What clots.
Rather disappointing coin-op conversion. Flat graphics are the main problem. Not very inspiring.