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

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Jim Douglas
Chris Bourne

US Gold, it has to be said, is a constant source of confusion to me. Bedlam isn't a licence deal, it isn't a film, in fact it's not a tie-in of any description. In fact, if it wasn't for the fact that there isn't a single innovation anywhere in the program, you could call it original.

In the Umpteenth Century, fighter pilots are sent through the X12 simulator as a final stage in their training. The machine - known as Bedlam - simulates the toughest, roughest down-right nastiest combat experience they are ever likely to face.

Bedlam, surprisingly, is a space shoot-out.

It looks like a predecessor to Lightforce, void of the advances in graphics and gameplay. When you consider that Bedlam is 128K only, and over a year longer in the making, this isn't really on.

You pilot a small craft toward the top of an apparently endless scrolling landscape, attacked - as ever - by apparently endless screaming hordes of aliens.

Your ship moves around at an uncomfortably rapid rate, making precision flying virtually impossible.

There are nice touches; the aliens dive and swoop in quite exciting patterns, and the action is fast. There is also a very peculiar - though admittedly surprising - feature. If you fly over the letter "T", the screen will change and you'll find yourself in a bonus section which is, in fact, a game of pinball. Quite what this has to do with being trained for cosmic dogfighting I can't see.

There is a two-player option, too, allowing pilots to cooperate in fending off the bad guys. Yes. You have seen this feature before in Executor.

Bedlam is definitely competent, undoubtedly addictive but equally it is unoriginal bordering on the plagiaristic, and graphically no great shakes. You can pretty much make up your mind from the screenshots.

Label: Go!
Author: Beam Software
Price: £8.99
Memory: 128K only
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Jim Douglas

Fast but unoriginal. Difficult but not very challenging. Bedlam it may be, new it isn't.