What's this strange piece of rectangular plastic I have in my hand? Ah, I know, it's an audio cassette with a game called 3-D Starfighter magically enclosed within. Via Spectrum and telly, this unassuming object should be transformed into a real-time, visuo-tactile, interactive fantasy experience. Or will it, by Jingo? Well no, actually, it won't.
'Digitised Speech Synthesis' boasts the inlay blurb. Unfortunately, the chaps at Code Masters seem unwittingly to have digitised the voice of Lestor Piggott. "Kmmmnn, Ynnng," says the computer, "Gmmmmnn, myuuub, bnnng." Fascinating. Actually this is the high point of the game.
The game's ingredients are one scenario: ten 'space zones'; on challenge: move your sights over alien craft and shoot; one main objective: clear each 'space zone' and move to the next: E102, E434 and edible starch. You're faced with a black screen (ie outer space), on which a myriad of jerky sprites move about. Get the old 'sights' over an 'alien' and fire. Then do it again. (And again and again and...) Oh - I forgot about the 3D 'effect': the alien ships get suddenly bigger (ie nearer you), and then equally suddenly smaller again (ie further away). Clever, eh? I had to chew on one of last week's socks to contain the excitement.
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. 3-D Starfighter isn't really a very good game I'm afraid, Spec-chums. It's not very good at all, by cracky. I'd better cheer things up with a joke.
Q: What's small. green and goes up and down 3000 times every second?
A: Eeeerrmm... a small green vibrating thing! Crickey, I'm not very good at this joke 'lark', am I) (No. Ed) Crumbs.
Feeble blasters well below Code Masters' usual standard. Less gripping than a hernia.