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Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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Gwyn Hughes
Chris Bourne

"'Snot fair! Dub gorbless tottie always geds to trash de ubiverse!" We let Gwyn Hughes, the man with the inflamed mucus membrane, come in from the cold to blast away at Bedlam!

Bedlam - wasn't that the infamous eighteenth century lunatic asylum whose last remaining inmates now rattle their chains around Castle Rathbone?

Fitting title then, because this is enough to drive anyone dotty - particularly all you prannies who tried to load it into your 48K machines. 'Cos this is one mega-sized mega-game which requires the whole 128 kilobytes.

One for the big boys, what? Just the thing I need to clear my catarrh. I've always said that a good shoot 'em up was the software equivalent of Sinex. (Course you have, Malcolm. Ed) Now if I can only get strapped into the cockpit of this Spectrum before Rachael gets back...

The instructions waffle on about this being the ultimate test for cadets at the Stellar Imperium's Pilots Academy. We'll see about that. Remember, I was massacring Space Invaders before most of you were born.

Kappow! Peeow! Zing! Whoops... Oh well, must have been the cold. Let's have another go. (More zippy sound FX!) Okay, so this really is hot stuff, but I'll soon have it puzzled. Or maybe not, because there are 15 space stations plus ten moonscapes and four special sections before you can take your 125cc spaceship out on the road. Now I see why they needed all those K.

In the style of Uridium, this is the classic scrolling formula with enough nice touches and oh-so-much speed to keep you going back for hours. The vertical landscape rolls away under you while waves of aliens swoop in.

There are deck fixtures to dodge on the stations, because at best you'll bounce all over the screen when you collide, and at worst you'll lose your life. And there are special bonus features to collect too. There's enough here to blow your mind - or blow your nose if you're like me. PARRRRP! That's wetter!

As I was saying before I creamed that Kleenex, there are four teleports which shoot you to the next level. But better than that, they also give you time off on the space station for a quick game of pinball. Keep your fingers on the flippers, because it's a handy way of boosting your score.

The aliens all use different attack patterns, and a lot of the fun is learning the best position to be in when they arrive. Get it right and you can sit there and shoot them like black-puddings in a bath. Wipe out a whole wave and you get a brief spell of invulnerability.

Use this wisely to wipe out the next invasion, and you top up your shields, so that there are stages when you should never need to dodge the nasties. There are also mega-sprites at the end of each level - talking of which, I hear Rachael returning. Cripes!

Never mind - in keeping with current trends, as well as the two players against each other option, there's an opportunity for friends to tackle the game together. But though you can't shoot your pals, you can bounce each other into danger. Which is just what I intend to do if that gormless tottie has forgotten my Lemsip. AH-CHOO!


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There are three other types of pick-up for you to collect.

I is for Invincibility - an alternative to the troublesome technique of shooting an entire formation.

L is for Life - and you'll be glad to find another of these, even though you do start with a generous five lives.

M is Mine though. Okay, you can have it - but use this smart bomb wisely, because it goes off immediately you press fire.

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The first wave filters down the sides before performing a sideways figure of eight. Position yourself above one of the score boxes to pick off one column, before gliding to the centre to take out the remainder.

Later on the first level and it's time for T. Avoid the aliens and aim for the icon, which will take you to the Teleport. But blast as much of the deck furniture as possible, as some of it may hide other pickups.

I'm a pinball wizard. After rebounding around the deck, it's time to bounce a ball into that hole at the top for a big bonus. Knock down the flags for a double or ten-time score increase in the main game too!

Oh sprite! This bot's big. He moves his claws, erupts in steam and you'd better be prepared to dodge until it's time for him to go home. Unless you've managed to gather enough invincibility that is!

A chance for invincibility on the first planet. Shoot the salamander, but don't stop while it goes skeletal. Instead, collect the rapid Fire icon then head for the bottom left corner to conquer a complete wave.

Even the space stations shoot back. The billiard balls are actually bombs, but position yourself half-way up the screen and they'll all miss you by miles. Not so on later levels, when they'll follow you around.