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

108
Ben Stone, Paul Sumner, Mike Dunn
Chris Bourne

Four hundred years have since our time. Space travel has become economic, now Man can pass cheaply across distant unknown space, and make it his own. And with each new planet colonised, hopes of peace, freedom, and equality grew like seedlings in Men's minds.

But these seeds withered and died, as the rich became richer, and the poor, poorer. Anger and discontent grew amongst the masses, crime flourished. In desperation, governments used drugs to quash unruly elements - but their use also squashed vitality. After twenty years crime was dying, but industrial production had virtually ceased and worlds slid toward economic ruin. Until that is the discovery, and settlement, of the planet Naibmoloc.

Naibmoloc was a good world, and when it was discovered that from its forests could be refined a powerful control drug, without side effects, Naibmoloc became a very good world indeed.

A secret government department was established to recruit harvesters, processors and smugglers of the new drug. A drug they now called Sky. And from its name the agents took theirs. The Sky Runners began to work.

Whispered words reached planetary governments, who knew nothing of the control drug experiments. Determined to end this moral outrage they organised rebel Runner Squads of mercenaries, to disrupt and sabotage the Sky Runner's operations.

Mother ships have laid .rebel Skimmers into the planet's atmosphere. Armed and fast, they are specially adapted to destroy the defence towers surrounding the harvesting lands. You are a pilot of one such Skimmer. The screen before you shows a view from the Skimmer's cockpit, and the threat level the Skimmer is likely to encounter - which you can evaluate. The balance of your mercenary's fees is indicated, as fighting becomes fiercer, every successful mission adds bonus payments of increasing value to that account.

After an automatic take off, the Skimmer can be guided, accelerated or slowed. Tall harvesting towers appear, and all must be destroyed before stopping the Skimmer and dropping three SkyBikers it carries, down to the forest floor. Now control passes to a Sky Biker who can be steered through the forest trees in search of his enemy counterparts, whose positions can be seen on the scanner at the top of the screen. They attack from all directions, and fast manoeuvring is required to avoid their shots while lining up to deliver killing blasts. Some enemies carry a price upon their heads and disabling them earns a bonus. Your Pulse Blaster switches to a low level when a wanted biker is confronted. One shot disables, two shots kill, the blaster indicating when to fire.

But not all SkyBikers encountered are enemies, some are fellow- rebels, and penalties are incurred for killing them.

After the last opposing SkyBiker has been destroyed the Harvesters can be attacked, with high energy pulses to vulnerable points indicated upon their sides. When the last Sky Harvester is wiped out, the battle for Naibmoloc, and its evil drug economy is won.

CRITICISM

'Hands up who remembers Death Chase ... I do and it's a damn sight better than this, and, thanks to arm, Ira a lot cheaper too. Okay, so there are a few extra bib but they're pretty dull, instantly forgettable even. The graphics are reasonable, but they tend to get messy and there isn't really enough variation. The sound's run-of-the-mill, a bog standard engine noise and a sort of crunch when you prang. I can't recommend this, it simply isn't worth ten pounds.' BEN

'Sky Runner isn't one of the easiest games to get used to. For a start you don't actually have to hit any of the defence towers accurately, just land a bolt in the proximity. The bikers haven't got the world's best collision detection on them either. Sometimes bolts go straight through without making any impact at all. However, the graphics are original and extremely well drawn, updating without flicker, and their action is silky smooth. Even though Sky Runner is hard to play l found it to be great fun and surprisingly addictive. Definitely worth a look at, even if you think it's not your cup of tea.' PAUL

'A pretty basic sort of shoot 'em up, this. Graphically, it's unamazing; I feel the SkyBikers could be improved, and the harvester isn't particularly hot; the 3D effect works, but is a bit jerky. Whereas there's quite a lot of playability present, I think its addictive qualities are sorely lacking. Having progressed through the three levels, the towers, the bikers, and finally the harvester, there' s little compulsion to try the run again, even on one of the higher threat levels. CASCADE seem to have made an effort with this one, but it lacks the addictiveness of ACE.' MIKE

COMMENTS
Control keys: cursor keys and Space to fire
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2, Cursor
Use of colour: average
Graphics: neatly drawn, of reasonable size with good animation
Sound: average, tendency to be irritating after a while
Screens: three scrolling stages
General Rating: An old idea rehashed with only the graphics offering anything really new, but resulting in an above average shoot 'em up.

68%
65%
64%
62%
63%
64%

Screenshot Text

Almost fully powered, the Sky Runner heads towards the forest.