Cascade Games Ltd
1987
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£9.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

73
Roy Stead
Chris Bourne

Cascade's ACE was a No 1 title. Now here's the follow-up - Sky Runner - again written by Ian Martin.

If ever there was an over-complicated plot for a computer game, Sky Runner has it. When you cut through all the waffle that monopolises the back of the cassette box and spills over into the instruction sheet, we find that this a game about drugs.

You are a freelance Sky Runner a space pilot with an interest in the moral fibre of the universe as well as his bank balance. You are hired by upstanding governments to stop the trafficking of a mind-control drug, Sky.

This involves flying around on the planet in a rather dreadful skimmer-craft, flying over trees and shooting at poles in the ground. These towers are really defence installations that are set up by the highly-organised drug runners to protect the illicit harvesting operation in process somewhere else in the sector.

It's all done in a kind of 3D that is very similar to 3D Death Chase from Micromega which was around years and years ago and was thought to be extremely clever at the time. The screen goes left and right quite smoothly and your skimmer can accelerate and decelerate causing the engine to light up an authentic glowy manner.

As you bank left and right, the landscape acts in a suitable fashion and pretty soon you will have blown away the top of all the towers. Once this has been done, you will have to take on the bad guys on the ground; the runners themselves. For this part of the mission you will have to climb abroad a kind of jet-bike thing in which you can zoom around in-between trees and so on, blowing away criminals all the way. After this section the large harvesting machine must be destroyed before going on to the next level.

At the start of the game you can select the Threat level which affects quite how many aliens there are and how crazy they are. This is obviously handy for beginners as it allows a kind of practice mode to be explored while dealing with weedy aliens.

The main problem with Sky Runner is that although it's pleasant enough to play, you don't really feel that much is resting on your success. There's no feeling of urgency as you play. Even if you attempt to go really fast, all that happens is you end up crashing into a tree. OK so that's pretty bad...

Sky Runner is pretty offensive and quite a pleasant play. It doesn't hold any mysteries or genuine excitement, though, apart from the truly abysmal colour coded anti-piracy device that you have to use before getting into the game.

Label: Cascade
Price: £7.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Roy Stead

****

Long awaited and marginally disappointing. Complicated plot attempts to disguise a simple 3D game.

4/5