Ariolasoft UK Ltd
Ray Tobey
1985
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£8.95
Multiple languages (see individual downloads)
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

29
Chris Bourne

Skyfox is the latest jet plane, capable of 3,000 mph whilst carrying a full pay load of weapons and you, the player, are put into the cockpit of this awesome fighting machine. It's a very fast full-blown 3D game a sort of flight simulator without all the twiddly complicated bits.

Your task is made plain defend your colony from the forces of invading aliens. The colony forms the combat area and is represented as a 25x25 grid, each section of grid forming a sector.

The invading force consists of some conventional Earth-type battleforces tanks and planes and a number of fat motherships which drop the enemy. All the action takes place on the grid, and if you happen to fly off it then a message is printed up telling you that the plane is 'off colony ' .

The title screen contains a series of options five difficulty levels and fifteen different scenarios (including practice modes). They ' re all basically the same, the only difference being the type of attack patterns and the number of tanks, planes and motherships which take part in the invasion.

Starting in the colony base the player is given three lives and can select whether to start at high or low level (high level is at 30,000 feet up amongst the invading aircraft, and low level pits you against the marauding tank forces).

Skyfox is an advanced kind of machine, boasting comprehensive armament. The gunnery consists of a conventional laser which has unlimited firepower and is the weapon most used. Mounted under the wings are five heat seeking and five guided missiles. Each has to be primed before firing. When firing the guided missiles a little scanner appears showing the selected target and this is used to guide the missile home.

As you can imagine the enemy don't take your aggressive pursuits lying down and constantly fire at you when and where they can. Luckily Skyfox has a shielding system that allows a high number of shots to be fired into it before it fails and leaves you plunging out of the sky. Fuel is constantly eaten up by flying, forcing a return to the colony base to refuel and rearm. There are two bargraphs on the side of the screen showing the current state of fuel and shields so you've got no excuse if you crash (unless the colony base has been destroyed). Other displays include a constantly up dated radar map of the locality showing any alien forces nearby, the sector number you ' re in, a clock showing elapsed time since launch and the number of missiles left.

During the game you can call up the base computer (as long as it survives). This informs you of your current score, how many colonists have been bumped off by the alien attackers, the number of alien craft that have been destroyed and shield status for each colony installation. You can also cast a beady eye over a complete map of the colony which shows where the aliens are currently concentrating.

The final special feature is the autopilot. This saves time and energy just press it when there are no aliens around and the autopilot flies you to the nearest aliens. If all the enemies have been eliminated then it whizzes you back home nice.

CRITICISM

'Yet another flight simulation hits the market, and sets out to be a good one. I didn't think Skyfox was going to appear on the Spectrum because of the delay since its Commodore release, but wait has been well worth it. The graphics are excellent but can be a little bit fussy. The colour is a bit plain, though acceptable, not much is used, but who needs move with a great game? More sound would make it a bit better and exciting. Overall this game is certainly great and will be in the charts for a long time yet'

'Skyfox looks set for a long ride as the high-flying flight game. The graphics do jerk somewhat, but the general quality is very good. There's not much sound, but who needs it in a flight simulator? As to the fifteen scenarios, what can I say? There was a lot of pre-release hype for this, and it seems to live up to the claims made for it. It's going to take a long time to become Ace of the Base, as it means mastering some of the more strategic invasions and becoming triumphant against a massive onslaught. For sure, Ray Tobey is going to be held responsible for a lot of missed sleep and meals!'

'There is a lot more to Skyfox than first meets the eye - it's a very good mixture between an average shoot em up and an average flight simulator. The result is the best son of corn promise for those who think they hate flight simulators. It's not too hard to play if you're used to simulators, but the large shoot em up element adds to the strategy element - not unlike Codename Mat, ie lots of enemies closing in and you have to jump around the area deciding if to wipe 'em out or not. Skyfox features a good range of difficulty, which means you can start practically straight away and feel that you have done a good job in protecting Earth from invasion. A bad point is the way the screen seems to lock up when it's busy and the sound is buzzing, which makes fast play impossible. I think most people would be happy with this in their collection as the first flight simulator, but anyone who's got a few flight sims should be happy with what they've already got.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: I/M up/down; J/K left/right (or cursors); plus other function keys
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair
Keyboard play: close 'cross keys' are subject to argument, and the game plays better with joystick
Use of colour: sparse, but avoids clashes
Graphics: great 3D and neat drawing
Sound: a few effects
Skill levels: 5
Screens: 15 scenarios
General Rating: A pretty hot action flight simulator.

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Screenshot Text

The view through your Skyfox windshield reveals enemy tanks and aircraft, manoruvring in realistic 3D.