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1984
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£5.50
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

40
Marcus Berkmann
Chris Bourne

Yo ho! What's this? Yup, it's just an ornery game with the word 'Simulator' tacked on the end! Will these software companies go to any lengths to flog their products? Seems so, for this, under any other name, is no more than that wrinkly old arcade game Battle Zone poshed up anew for another generation of Spec-chums. In fact, the only real effect of the word 'Simulator' is to make you suspect that Zeppelin would never do anything so dastardly (hem hem).

Battle Zone was a spanky new game which obsessed me and a friend of mine in about 1981, when we poured piles of 10 pees into the blasted machine. It's a wire frame shoot 'em up, set on the ground, from the perspective of someone sitting in a tank and scared half to death. All sorts of things whizz towards you — other tanks, flying boulders, spaceships, missiles - and you have to both avoid and destroy everything that threatens you.

It's the game that inspired such works of genius as Elite and Mercenary, but in this version Zeppelin has introduced colour (the original was starkly monochrome) and mucked about with the gameplay, making the whole very much less than the sum of its parts. There's also some dodgy collision detection, and the whole shebang is slower than a snail on sedatives.

A disappointment then, on historical grounds, and for 1989 it doesn't really impress either. Forget the simulator - go for the real thing.

4/10