"Being a hero is easy. Staying alive is more difficult."
Skimming low across the mechanical landscape, I threw the joystick left, then right, right again, lurching out of the way of an oncoming assailant. As he sped away, I matched his horizontal position and blasted him with a rear laser. The tiny silver ship expelled a ploom of white smoke, and fragmented, sending shattered metal in all directions.
This is W A R., from Martech. And it's very good.
The whole game plays on a small window, surrounded by a picture which attempts to be extra ordinarily atmospheric but manages instead to look confusing, owing to the jumble of colours. It's a scrolling zap like a cross between Lightforce and Uridium. The actual gameplay is two-colour, although brief excursions into colour are taken every so often, allowing you to improve your armaments.
After a short time dodging and zooming, it's apparent that in the early stages it's a straightforward shoot-em-up.
Waves of differing aliens scream down the screen with various degrees of psychosis. The backgrounds will alter to bring variety, but when you take a long, hard look, it's a game we've all played before.
Yet there are two things that save W.A.R. from being classified a run-of-the-mill arcade game. One is the second-game feature, the other is the rather innovative way in which you can improve firepower.
The former is a quite simple idea. On the second side of the tape, you will find another copy of the game, - more of the same except much, much harder. You'll find yourself flying over a Spectrum circuit board. Aliens swoop around in a most impressive fashion, and finish you off in a second.
The other idea is rather clever. You can opt to sacrifice some of your score in order to obtain superior weaponry. Each weapon retails for a different number of points. If you can hold out long enough, it is possible to amass a great enough score for you to purchase a large piece of artillery. It may be worthwhile, however, to get some superior, though small-scale guns to help in the short-term. It's up to you.
Scrolling bashes are suddenly in vogue again and W.A.R. is a tricky one.
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 1
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
A big surprise. It's been converted from the Commodore game, and improved no end. Scroll- ing blasts are fashionable.
A small playing window. Amazingly fast action though. Dodge the three aliens on the left. Don't worry, they're easier to make out on the moving screen.