Thunderceptor sounds a pretty good title for a blast 'em up game, even if it is written by a company called Ernieware. Thinks: is this a wise name for a software house? But who cares whet it's called as long as it can produce stuff like this?
The year is 2021 with 12 milliard people now living on Earth, and I bet half of them own a Spectrum Plus-37. There's trouble at t'moon, though. On Jupiter's moon Io an unknown bacterium disease is playing havoc. 7,000 people are dead and the aspirins have run out. The survivors are heading for Earth bringing the disease with them, and your mission is to see to it that they don't get here.
In this horizontal-scroller, your ship is controlled by keyboard, Cursor Kempston, Protek, AGF or Interface II joysticks. There's a touch of Uridium about the start, where the enemy ships come in from the right-hand edge of the screen and you cling to the left for dear life, dodging around and spitting bullets. After the first batch of ships there's a meteor shower, which conveniently stays in the top half of the screen, then there's a large-scale ship which stops in centre-screen firing missiles and just daring you to defeat it. To do this you not only have to dodge and shoot the missiles, later waves of which home in on you, but also get close enough in to shoot the larger craft on the nose and slowly disintegrate it. For me it was definitely a case of retiring due to fire-button finger.
The features are what make this game, apart from the frantic action and impressive sprite and colour handling. You've got six lives and five levels to get through with medals awarded as you rise through the six ranks from Second-Lieutenant to Colonel. There's not only a score and high-score record, but a total score record as well so you can keep a note of every point ever scored in every game you've played The SAVE-LOAD game options also allow you to check out the types of enemy craft and numbers you've wiped out, check your mission status and allocate your resources between Shield, Normal Faser and Super Faser. Super Faser is fast fire and works against the larger ships, and the program switches you from Super to Normal as it's needed.
With pretty nifty spitting sound effects too, what more could you ask? According to the notes this is "the most sensational and sophisticated science-fiction arcade game ever made for the ZXSpectrum." My own view, not a bad little effort, actually chaps.
Trigger-happy Ernieware shoot'em up that'll blister your joystick finger - or I'm a Dutchman!