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Virgin Games Ltd
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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Jim Douglas
Chris Bourne

Woooooow! Reactionary or what! Silkworm involves so much killing that I'm almost ashamed to tell you how great it is.

Look at the ingredients; Two players (one in a jeep and one in helicopter) a million enemy soldiers in tanks, helicopters, planes and gunships, power-up options and continual blasting action.

While Silkworm is a largely frills-free affair; not much colour, no complex bonus stages, its pitch of difficulty and sheer scale and escalation of violence make it stand out from the crowd of sideways scrolling shoot-outs.

The feeling of teamwork is really strong. You can make it on your own (fnar) but it's not easy. Half of the fun of the game is working out a strategy and setting up the chopper and the jeep in the most effective positions. I found it most useful to fly the chopper about half way up the screen, slightly ahead of the jeep. This way mines on the floor can be shot out. While the jeep can jump them, it becomes vulnerable to shots from enemy helicopters all the time it's airborne.

Each vehicle behaves in a slightly different way. Obviously the helicopter is in the air (yes, really) so its prime function is taking out squadrons appearing in the top right hand corner of the screen and providing cover for the jeep. Since its downward fire is quite limited, the jeep's task is to shoot out ground-to-air missile launchers. So far as I could tell, the helicopter gets a slightly better deal, since it can fend for itself to better effect than the jeep. Especially gung-ho and ruthless players will be able to exploit the defence offered by the jeep while hardly returning any support, thus scoring more points by concentrating on high-point-values enemies.

After a specific point, you'll be awarded a double-up token which will enhance your firepower, making the next attack more plausible.

After each wave of escalating carnage you'll encounter two end-of-level bad guys.

The first is a strange metal metamorphose affair which assembles itself before you eyes and then drifts around the screen blasting away like a demon. This guy is so heavily armoured only strategic shots from underneath will affect him. If you've lost the jeep by this point, you're in trouble.

The second is simply huge. No, sorry, HUGE! He takes up about half of the screen and fires bouncing bombs at the jeep and a continual stream of rockets at the chopper. If you beat this boy, you can be proud of yourself.

While it's easy to level lots of criticisms at Silkworm. Lots of the graphics are similar and it's true that, for the most part, the gameplay is pretty samey. However, it's easy to get going. Nothing complex or convoluted to get to grips with and the difficulty level is pitched perfectly.

The only problem is that if you are going to be successful, you really do need two players.

Aside from this, it's perfect. Tight, crisp and polished combat, a real feeling of teamwork and high-speed action. A Classic!

Label: Mastertronic
Author: Sales Curve
Price: £8.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Jim Douglas

Fantastic team blast! Superb.


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Work as a team! You won't get far on your own.

Experiment with the positions of both vehicles. You can tweak your angle of fire to the optimum degree, offering better protection.

Always prepare an escape route for yourself - your partner may lost concentration or get killed and you'll be left with no cover.

Most of the big craft have weak points. They'll buy H quicker if you can find them.