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US Gold Ltd
1985
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£7.95
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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13
Chris Bourne

After his numerous defeats in the pacific during World War II, the Allies' enemy,The Dragon' has set himself up as an evil dictator commanding a squadron of crack troops who worship him as a Demigod. The man is a lunatic and a megalomaniac - something has to be done. Stryker, the Allies' most competent Commander leads an attack upon the crazed power monger's stronghold. To defeat him, a number of defences must be overcome so the evil warlord can be killed.

In the interests of variety, you can take on the role of either the Allies or the Dictator when playing a one-player game, or can battle it out in a two-player contest.

On the first screen, Allied troops have to be airdropped into the warzone from a helicopter. Fire drops a soldier, but if the helicopter's too low to allow the chute to open in time you get people burger all over the terrain.

On landing, the soldiers make a dash for the nearest wall, trying to avoid fire from a machine gun manned by one of the Dragon's stooges. The machine gunner is hampered by the fact that it takes time for him to react and turn the gun to point at the helpless troops. Once all the men are safely hiding behind the walls at the top they have to make their way to the bottom of the screen, avoiding the manic machine gunner's eagle eye.

The edges of the walls flash in a cycle along the length of the line. Pressing fire brings a man out, and he's controlled by the joystick as he runs down to the next section of wall. From the third wall, nearest the gun emplacement, the troops have to be manoeuvered to the bottom of the screen. The control method is the same, except pressing fire when controlling a man allows a grenade to be lobbed in the hope of totalling the pill box. Pressing fire twice when you select a wall sends down a computer controlled soldier - handy if a decoy is needed to draw fire.

On the second screen, hostages must be protected as they run the gauntlet against the Dragon's troops. Running short of ammo the enemy are desperate and throw just about anything at the fleeing captives. The allies have captured a gun that is used against the four different hazards that the escaping prisoner can easily fall foul of: a soldier drops stones from the top of the wall the hostages have to walk beneath; a tank trundles on from the right and will happily squash anyone in its path; an armoured car drives from the left, firing a small calibre machine gun mounted inside and finally, enemy soldiers dump mines, popping out of trap doors to lay them. All these obstacles can be shot up, but accurate shooting is needed. If you shoot a hostage by mistake he doesn't get wounded, but just pauses for a while before moving on.

The penultimate scene is your chance to ferry the hostages to safety in four helicopters that fly over a vertically scrolling landscape. Tanks and lookout posts placed upon the terrain at inconvenient locations hurl shells at the helicopters, making life tricky for the pilot. The difficulty of the terrain is decided by the Dragon before the section starts. Once the four helicopters are through, Commander Stryker finally gets to meet his arch enemy, the Dragon, in mortal combat.

The two opponents stand opposite each other on parallel platforms on either side of a river. The idea is to hit the other man with poonta sticks until he falls into the water. Poontas are small, sharp pointed sticks, made especially for throwing. Each time a combatant it hit three times, he takes a topple and there are five rounds to be battled out before the contest is decided.

CRITICISM

Wargames aren't really my cup of tea to be honest - I'm not one for mindless violence. Looking at Beach-Head as only a game, It's not that bad - an awful lot of program has been squeezed into a 48K Spectrum for just one toad. The only trouble is that it's a bit easy to complete and once completed the only incentive to play again is too get a high score. The two player game is quite fun, however, and there are lots of ways you can play the game - no shortage of options here. The graphics, though a bit crude, work quite well. The end sequence is ridiculously easy once you've figured that your opponent won't move till you do. If you liked Beach Head then you'll like Beach-Head II.

Another sizzling American game hits the Spectrum, the only trouble is that American games and Spectrums don't seem to mix very well. Quite a lot of the games which have made their way across the Atlantic /usually CBM 64) have fabulous graphics and sound which mask a pretty boring game - Beach Head II is one such game. On the Commodore it was great with its speech, amazing animation and smooth graphics, but these have been lost in the transition from 64 to Spectrum leaving a pretty simple and boring game. If gunning down loads of men really is your cup o' tea then fine, take a look at this. If it 's not then try something a little more intellectually stimulating.

At last' US Gold kept us waiting for more than a year for the follow-up to their Mega- Seller Beach Head. It's well worth the wait, though. Four screens, each in its own right a separate arcade game, make this much better than the last. I suppose most people will buy it because of the original, but as it stands it's a great game. The graphics in all stages are good, as is the playability. (My personal favourite of the four is Screen Three.) You really get your money ' s worth, give the variation in the game, so I suppose Beach Head will be found in Christmas stockings up and down the land.

COMMENTS
Control keys: definable
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2.
Cursor
Keyboard play: responsive
Use of colour: some attribute
clash, nothing remarkable
Graphics: some good animation
Sound: a tune, and some effects
Skill levels: 3
Screens: four
General Rating: A lot of options crammed into one game; some may find the gameplay weak.

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