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Activision Inc
Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes

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Chris Bourne

Some months back we reviewed a game called GForce by Eurobyte. Beamrider is a 3D version of the game and more resembles the arcade original on which it is based. It is a shoot em up in which you control a fighter which can move left or right at the base (or front) of the screen. You are sitting on a grid of lines which travel in semi-perspective towards the horizon. Down these beamed grids come enemy alien ships of various types.

Hazards encountered (depending on sector) include White Saucers which hop from grid line to grid line before settling down, Red space debris which can only be dodged, Yellow Chirper ships, Green Blocker ships, Green Bounce craft, Blue Chargers, Orange Trackers and Red Zig Bombers. The hazards invulnerable to your laser must be avoided or torpedoed, but you only have three torpedoes per sector and these should be saved for real emergencies and the large Mother ship that crosses the horizon from time to time and earns a huge bonus.

The antics of the hazards are not random, green Blockers will lock onto the beam on which you are sitting, swarms of them appearing if a Mothership is about to appear. The saucers fire down the beams at you and the Blockers absorb your shots. Each sector contains fifteen saucers which are ostensibly guarding the Mothership. A counter at the top left tells you how many are left. When they have all been destroyed the Mothership (or Sentinel Ship) will appear. There is also a way of earning additional lives by allowing a Yellow Rejuvenator ship to make contact with your craft. Shooting it will turn it to red debris which kills if it hits you.


'Beamrider is quite an original shoot em up. It's a 3D type game in which you basically shoot at almost everything you can (except Yellow Rejuvenators). The action is fast and furious, especially at levels 10 and above. The graphics are okay but not really fantastic, but the game itself makes up for this. Beamrider is a good shoot em up and is a welcome addition to the Activision range. Overall, fairly addictive to say the least.'

'The effect of perspective is reasonable with the radiating beams and forwards moving horizontal beams. Graphics are not detailed but they move smoothly and very fast What makes Beamrider a clever shoot em up is the way the various nasties act. Blue Chargers have an unpleasant habit of taking seconds to fade off the bottom of the screen, thus trapping you if unlucky. The Green Bouncers dart up and down beams, switching beams at irregular distances from your craft so you can never be sure what they will do next. The game is simple to look at but quite complex to play well and is certainly addictive. Lots of sound helps the fun.'

'I thought games like this had gone out of the window years ago, well on the Spectrum anyhow. It seems as though the theme has been revamped somewhat and an attempt has been made to give a true 3D impression of Beamrider'. It seems to me that this game will suit many talents of different people, namely quick thinking, quick reactions, good hand/eye co-ordination and a muscular firing finger. The game progresses quite well from level 1 to the higher levels where there are far more objects whizzing about on the screen that tend to make life truly impossible. The graphics don't take 3D to the extreme but are effective and fast. I especially liked the flashing border when an alien is destroyed which adds to the atmosphere, even though this is a commonly used device for explosions, but it seemed to work well here. Beamrider turns out to be quite a fast and surprisingly addictive game.'

Control keys: O/P left/right, Z to fire laser, Q to fire torpedo (forward on joystick)
Joystick: A poor point about Activision games is that they fail to mention joystick options on the inlays, but you can use AGF, Protek, Kempston, Sinclair 2
Keyboard play: very responsive and well laid out
Use of colour: very good
Graphics: above average, not too detailed, but fast
Sound: very good and plenty of it
Skill levels
Lives: 3 plus rejuvenator
Screens: 1
Special features: 1 to 4 player option
General Rating: A good, fast, addictive shoot em up.


Screenshot Text

Two white saucers approach down the beams towards in Activision's BEAMRIDER.