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Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K
Unspecified custom loader

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Chris Bourne

This month's reviews include two major software houses releasing old arcade games, already well covered by existing Spectrum versions. The other is Bug-Byte's Cavern Fighter, and this one is Softek's Starblitz - a 'Defender' game. In both cases the results are excellent and go to show that a game need not be worn out if a really good improvement comes along.

In a 'Defender' game you control an attacking craft which travels over the surface of a planet avoiding the alien craft, some of which fire mines at you, others which grab humanoids from the ground. You score points for rescuing humans. The ultimate aim is to destroy an alien base in some versions, in others it's merely to survive.

The landscape scrolls continuously as you fly along, and there is a radar screen at the top which shows your position, the visible screen area, and the position of aliens and humanoids.

As our reviewers discovered, Starblitz is an absolutely classic version.


'This is a classic looking version of 'Defender with more colourful graphics than either Crystal's Invasion of the Body Snatchas or, indeed, the arcade original. The explosions are marvellous. It features all the original ingredients, has keys and very good sound. The radar screen is very effective and appears to be highly accurate in as much as you can line up a shot and fire with every hope of hitting an alien that is just about to appear on the playing screen. I thought this was the best 'Defender' for the Spectrum yet seen, in fact the definitive one. It may be an old game, but for anyone new to Spectrum, it must be nice to kick off with games that are every bit as good as those on the arcades - and this one is.'

'Quite simply, Starblitz is the best version of 'Defender ' for the Spectrum I have ever seen. The graphics are large, smooth and colourful (great multi-coloured laser blasts). All the original features are there, smart bombs, bombers, aliens, pods etc. The game does require quite a few keys but these are well laid out. It's a pity there isn't a Kempston joystick facility - I 'm sure they'll sell thousands more if there were. The sound is also good and your space fighter seems to scream 'Oh no!' when destroyed. This, coupled with the hi-res explosions (especially when you are hit), makes the game an extremely close copy of the arcade original. Definitely the best 'defender' yet (I almost searched for 10p between games)!

'Like a 'Scramble' type game, 'Defender' is one of those classic arcade games which require skill and concentration, has a simple idea and therefore can be very addictive if the version is playable. This one is very playable, and lovely to look at too. Certainly the most colourful, with very big graphics and smooth movement, and excellent sound. A very good version.'

Control keys: Q-T = up, CAPS-V = A-G = reverse direction, U & I = thrust, 0 & P = laser, B = smart bomb
Joystick: Fuller
Keyboard play: very responsive
Colour: very good
Graphics: excellent, nice big aliens
Sound: very good
Skill levels: 1
Lives: 3
General Rating: an excellent version, highly addictive - is there any point anyone else doing a 'Defender' for the Spectrum.


Screenshot Text

Above, the attack; below, a miscalculation.