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Probe Software Ltd
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes

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Nick Roberts, Mark Caswell, Kati Hamza
Chris Bourne

Bozon, the tyrannical megalomaniac, is threatening to exterminate the Earth. Immediate retaliatory action is necessary and so Lieutenant Henry and Sergeant Sanders are assigned to the mission. Their aim: to infiltrate Bozon's underground empire, locate the enemy's ultimate weapon and destroy it.

Converted from the arcade game, Side Arms allows one or two players to participate in combat across a variety of horizontally scrolling monochrome backgrounds.

Immediately the enemy unleashes its defence: all available manpower is alerted and combatants appear in a variety of forms to do battle.

As the intrepid astronauts advance, they have the chance to improve their cache of weapons. When destroyed, some enemies leave collectable bonus pods. Basic pods increase fire power and improve armour but each also contains a series of additional battle improvements. A specific number of shots transforms the pod into another weapon; one shot for increased speed, four for a mega bazooka launcher, and so on. The weapons in a player's arsenal can then be selected individually from the keyboard.

Play is divided into a series of stages. At the end of each, enemy fire culminates in a laser-belching monster, who must be defeated to allow entry to the next underground level.

The game comes complete with its own soundtrack intended, presumably, to inspire you as you approach Bozon's ultimate weapon, the Mobile Armour Sentipet.


'Another shoot 'em up conversion fails to hit the mark. Strip away all the hype (this is definitely not a 'classic shoot 'em up'), take away the gimmicky soundtrack, and you're left with a rather average game. The action, far from being as breathtaking as the promotion claims, is slow. Even with maximum speed bonuses the astronauts don't seem to get very far and spend a lot of time travelling through empty screens. Scrolling is uneven and collision detection annoyingly inaccurate. The graphics are no more outstanding than the gameplay. The atmosphere they create can be quite eerie, especially against the black background but this element isn't really exploited to its full potential. Side Arms isn't a complete disaster - after a few turns it even becomes addictive, but at the inflated price it's probably best to give it a miss.' KATI

'On first investigation, Side Arms seems just like just another ordinary shoot 'em up game with appalling colour. On second investigation it's still just an ordinary shoot 'em up! The graphics are confusing, the colour is monochromatic and the sound is terrible. Some of the aliens are so small that you hardly notice them creeping up on you and others are just so big that you hardly stand a chance. The sloppy presentation makes the game look unappealing and addictiveness is almost nil. There are some places in the game that are quite pleasing to play - but not many. This game lets down GO!'s usually high standard.' NICK

'I'm afraid to say that I wasn't very fond of this game. Side Arms is pretty bland visually, with some large, but rather unimpressive monochromatic sprites battling across a very similar monochromatic backdrop. Control of the main character is frustrating, as he often takes a fraction of a second too long to react to a situation, which is more often than not fatal. Another thing that annoyed me greatly was the way that the aliens occasionally killed my man without even touching him. All of these factors added to my initial feelings about the game, and in the end I was left with a vague. 'why bother?' sort of feeling.' MARK

Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: bland and monochromatic
Sound: terribly grinding and repetitive
General Rating: A very poor and disappointing arcade licence.


Screenshot Text

Side Arms, top head, bottom legs...