Do I like it Sidewize? Listen, I like it any way I can get it, but from now on I'll take my bit on the side sitting up. Seems to give you more thrusting power, you see.
Oh, so you misunderstood, did you? Well, let me explain before I get another ear bending from the Ed for talking dirty. Sidewize is a scrolling shoot 'em up featuring a fellah sitting in a free-floating space chair as the world scrolls horizontally around him. Is that all clear? Good.
But Sidewize is much more than that. For a start you've got a choice of four worlds on which to do battle, and for a finish there's a fifth world which you can only approach when you've conquered the initial quartet.
I've actually seen a Firebird stalwart play the whole game through, using a cheat copy it took around twenty minutes of frantic blasting!!! So have pity on poor little Rachael, armed only with the version that you'll be able to buy in the shops, and with no knowledge of machine code to work out the necessary POKEs.
I played for hours and hours, trying to learn the order of the nasties as they flew at me, crept up behind me. snaked around me and finally shot at me, so that I could be prepared for the next attack. But the worst thing was that I just couldn't stop playing.
Other games that were sitting there, waiting to be loaded and reviewed, didn't get a look-in. There's nothing to touch a good shoot 'em up - but for peace of mind, I wish I'd never touched Sidewize!
The problem is that it's one of those games where you groan, scream and tear your hair as you lose your last life... but immediately go back for more because you're sure you won't be fooled again by that treacherous attack that took you by surprise. And of course you'll get a bit further next time - then you'll run crash bang into a new hazard.
Are we sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin, blasting a few abstract aliens as they soar through space. A few of them will leave you a gift of an additional weapon when you kill them. Generous, huh? A floating cross gives you more fire-power, arrows increase your speed and various guns offer different types of laser. Rush to them before they fade away and you'll be better prepared for the hazards ahead.
After the terrors of outer-space, complete with a superb perspective star background, you skim across a planet surface, taking on more and more monsters until you reach the final stage of the planet and a really nasty bit which takes all the heavy artillery you can muster to dispose of it.
After that you get to choose from the remaining planets or get sent to the fifth world. From the cheat-preview I can promise you the grand finale is hair-raising... but the Victory message is worse!
The game itself is a simple concept, but there's just so much to it, and the difficulty is so well judged, you just can't pull the plug. It's fast. The action is flicker free. The monochrome graphics are great and the sound effects set it all off.
It could take years of careful manoeuvre to beat this one, unless you're into hacking, in which case, a request - please, please, please give this beleaguered space-cadet a POKE (Are you talking dirty again? Ed) Now sit up straight in your chair, Rachael, and bring on the next wave.
Snaking from top to bottom and across the screen come this apparently indestructible segmented terror. The secret of success is to get in close and follow it vertically, blasting as you go. Shooting the last section gives you extra speed, and you'll need it to negotiate the fast-moving walls which are just one monster away.
Two thirds of the way to the planet surface and some nifty shooting has revealed this laser, but there may not be time to grab it as it fades fast. It shoots death-rays rather than single shots, which are useful for getting through tight formations. A later weapon give you scatter fire to really take on these large scale attacks, but be warned - lose a life and you're stripped of your extra arsenal.