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Storm Software [2]
1991
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£10.99
£3.99
English
ZX Spectrum 128K
Unspecified custom loader

14,15
Andy Ide
Chris Bourne

Right then, who's for a quick flutter? I'll bet you 10 candy cigarettes and a packet of Love Hearts you've got a copy of Silkworm lying in your bedroom cupboard somewhere. Go on, have a look. (We are of course talking 'timeless classic' here, and as big a barg as you could every buy for £2.99.) So - was I right? Ha! You're too kind, you really are. (Gobble.)

And judging by the look of Storm's long-awaited second game (their first since St Dragon) I reckon it's odds on they've got a copy too. You see, SWIV is not only a rather corking shoot-'em-up - it's also a simultaneous 2-player thingimeebob which sees you and a mate taking control of a helicopter and jeep and blasting the red silk stockings off loads of unsavoury space spooks. In other words - just like Silkworm! Hurrah! And it's almost (not quite, but almost) just as super spiffingly good! Let's take a gander...

WHAT A LOVELY PAIR!

Right then, depending on which vehicle you choose you can do different things. It you fancy zooming everywhere at the flick of a fingernail (it's a vertically scroller by the way, as opposed to Silkworm's horizontal stuff) then you're best off with the chopper. He's a whooshy kind of chap, but sadly only ever fires in one direction (ie up).

The jeep on the other hand is much more your John Travolta showy-offy type. Although he's got to get round buildings and things (which makes him rather harder to control, and easy pickings for walls which squash him to pulp at the bottom of the screen) he can swing and twirl and blast away in any direction he bally well wants to. This means that you can nip him behind enemy gun posts, dashly flip 90 to one side, smile sweetly at the poor little prat whose life your about to terminate, and blammo! Fried sucker sunny side up!

So just imagine the double-trouble firepower you're going to inflict when you get a mate round to team up with you and join in the fun! Caramba!! Not that they opposition's going to be a pushover of course. In fact here comes an onslaught of them right now. Eek!

There's swooping fighters, tanks, boats, gun turrets, bullet-spitting metal balls and even some seek-out-and-destroy Silkworm IV homing missiles (which spin round on the screen for absolute yonks and suddenly poke you up the botty when you've forgotten all about them). It's a nighty! And that's just the small fry - about two-thirds through each level you get faced by this creepy wasp-looking fighter plane (which lunges at you every so often, and leaves behind a handy ammo-boosting icon - very Silworm-ish) and then at the end there's a different humongous gun thingy to cope with! (Well, they jolly well scared the boxer shorts off me anyway!)

FUNKY FABAROONS!

So what's the gen? Well, basically, as I said above, it's terribly, terribly good. The smoothness of the action and the graphics are first class - everything whizzes and scrolls without the slightest jerky hiccup, and the design of the baddies and some of those backgrounds (ghost towns, desserts, airstrips, grassland, bits of the sea etc etc) are really state-of-the-art. The explosions are nice and 'crunchy' too and really look the something's being blown to poop. (In fact, I'd even say that it's better than the Amiga version in some bits. Praise indeed, eh?)

But the real funky dread is the 2-player option. I don't know about you but if these simultaneous player things are ever any good I always end up experiencing an almost spiritual sense of kinship with the partner I'm playing with - no matter how much I usually hate his guts. Such was the relationship I had with James until he got shot to ribbons and I realised what a talentless wimp he was. Yep, Spec-chums, it's that good. (And better!)

Or is it?

AHEM

You see, despite all this fawning praise I must confess to having a small handful or less-than-vague reservatios about SWIV.

First off, I'm worried about the size. It's only 4 levels deep, and I'd jumped up onto the second one within about 20 minutes of starting the first. (Not that I got back to it for ages, but I'd managed it all the same.) That really took me by surprise.

Second, when you do eventually get onto the later levels you find that the enemies are very similar to the ones before, only harder to kill.

And, thirdly, although I've mentioned that the graphics backdrops are truly scrumptious, they do tend to gobble up the action sometimes and leave you squinting you at the screen to see what's happening. (I had to turn the colour down on the telly at one point because the red was so fierce and distorting.)

Cripes, eh? Can this mean that SWIV ends up shortchanging itself and tilting just the wrong side of 90'? Or that it runs the mile only to falter before the finishing post? Well, luckily, no it doesn't. Usually a set of grumbles like that would do some serious damage to a game (and it certainly does knock its score down), but this is one of those mischievous little blighters that screams and squawks and shouts for you to give it a Megagame even before you've picked it up out of its box, and keeps up the volume regardless of the niggles and moans.

With 2-player mode action and graphics like these you're not going to be wasting your money. It's got serious style and it's as addictive as hell. And for a company that's only on its second game that's some pretty mean achievement. So go out and buy it.

Addictive and very good-looking shoot-'em-up. It's not perfect, but it's still the biz.

83%
92%
95%
90%
90%

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OI! YOU AT THE BACK!

Here's a quick run-down of those end-of-level 'baddies'.

LEVEL 1 (Right)

This is a whopping great gun which spits a laser beam at you and fries you into cherry pie if you're sitting in the middle of the screen.

LEVEL 2

This missile launcher. It fires out Silkworm IV homing missiles which zigzag around like inebriated Kamikaze pilots and prove incredibly tricky to dodge.

LEVEL 3 (Bottom left)

This is a plane which leaves behind a flying worm thingie once you've zapped it (I think).

LEVEL 4

And this you'll have to find out for yourself. (Not that we never got that far, hem hem, just that we think you should have something to look forward to.)

Screenshot Text

And here we see how important it is to drive through gateways. (Don't and you'll get squashed!)

And yes it is a vertical scroller, how did you guess? (Note that everyone's left town because they're all so scared of you.)

Actually, this first level is one of the best. The background's are relatively light and clear, and there's a good macho 'military' feel to it.