Piranha
1986
Arcade: Action
£9.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

28
Chris Bourne

The World is in mortal danger from an evil genius known only as The Enemy. He has hacked in to the world's defence computers and is now threatening to unleash the world's nuclear weapons and destroy everything and everybody unless his demands are met.

The Enemy has kidnapped top computer boffins, and holds them hostage in his four-level headquarters complex. Each of the scientists knows one digit from the secret code which opens the entrance to the fortress's main computer room. If someone was courageous enough to penetrate the complex and destroy the computer, then the The Enemy's plans would be thwarted...

The Powers that Be decide to fight back, and a force of top commando fighters is assembled, code named COBRA. Eight commandos are in the team and your first task is to select a quartet to undertake the mission. As the Strike Force enters the fortress the alert is sounded and The Enemy's deadly computer program starts running: the countdown to oblivion has begun!...

The aim is to explore each level of the complex, working as a team, and locate the computer scientists held prisoner. Pressing the appropriate number changes the team member under the player's control. Each commando is equipped with a DLB, a digital lock breaker, which can help crack the combination that gives access to the main computer. The more of the code you have in your possession the quicker the DLB can break the combination. At least six digits are needed to give a realistic time scale, and whenever a commando finds a scientist, another digit is collected.

The scenery scrolls in 3D as your agile commandos leap, roll and walk along the corridors. Windows can be leapt through and some doors can be kicked down, while others are operated by switches. like the inter-level lifts. Switches are marked with a D (Doors) and L (lifts) and are often some distance from the door or lift they activate - teamwork is called for.

Guards and droids patrol the corridors and rooms, and need to be avoided or taken out with a quick burst of machine gun fire or the lob of a grenade. Some rooms contain fiendish auto defence systems, such as mobile lasers and electro-blocks, and puzzle-solving skills are needed to get through safely.

Details of the digits already collected and the status of each member of the team are given onscreen together with the number of the commando currently controlled and the time left before oblivion. Extra time can be won by disabling remote computer terminals, and first aid kits can be use to build up the strength of wounded fighters.

Good luck prospective agents, you'll need it!

CRITICISM

'It's not often that I play a single game all afternoon, but I just couldn't pull the plug on Strike Force Cobra. I found the gameplay very complicated at first, but after a while it all became very clear. Controlling your commandos is a little on the tricky side to start off with but it soon becomes fairly easy. The graphics are detailed although they are not as clear as they could be. The characters are nicely animated and full of detail. The sound is a bit of a disappointment as there are no tunes and only a couple of spot effects. I enjoyed playing this game as it is very original and compelling.'

'Strike Force Cobra is an extremely complex game that takes a lot of time to get into. It's very well presented with lots of pretty graphics, and a screen that contains quite a lot of colour - without any colour clashes. The 3D effects are very good and give a feeling of distance and perspective. There are lots of touches that bring the intended atmosphere to life - kicking doors and jumping through windows adds to the flavour of the expedition. I was a bit disappointed to see that the game suffered from locking up on you when there was a bit of activity on the screen, or when it was trying to make a few feeble sound effects - this made the game very awkward to play. I think that Strike Force Cobra has a very promising game in it somewhere - but whether you'll get to find it is another matter!'

'The very first time I played Strike Force Cobra, I didn't rate it all that much, but perseverance has really opened my eyes to a good strategy arcade game. The PIRANHA label is obviously gong to be one to be reckoned with. First, they launch a quality fun game like Trapdoor, and then a good strategy shoot-blast-bash 'em up like this. Strike Force Cobra, I think, isn't a game that you see in a shop and say 'gorra get a copy of this like soon ' , but if you buy it, I think it's a pretty likely bet that you'll play it for a good while, and enjoy it.'

COMMENTS
Control keys
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2
Keyboard play: needs practice, but responsive
Use of colour neat
Graphics: good animations, tidy 3D effect
Sound: spot effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: scrolling play area
General Rating: Complicated, and tricky to get into but well worth the effort.

84%
87%
81%
75%
84%
81%
83%

Screenshot Text

Your commando kicks in a door to get away from that nasty looking dalek creature behind him.

Cameron selects Kawalski to help him with his mission. Can you spot John Minson in the line up? He was digitised along with other eminent people - there's a comp this issue if you reckon you know which commando is Minson...