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Melbourne House
1989
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£9.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes

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94
Matt Bielby
Chris Bourne

Obliterator is a bit of a corker from Psygnosis. It's a mappers delight, featuring endless corridors packed with maurauding aliens of various sorts, plus guns and components that you have to pick up to complete your mission.

Your task is to escape an alien infested space craft before it blows up - a task made harder because you have to rebuild your shuttle from scattered components before you do so. Your largish sprite lollops around the ship, going up ladders or through teleports as the mood takes him. Some of the backgrounds and monsters are rather well designed - as they were on the spectacular 16 bit versions - but the game has the same faults: slightly jerky animation and limited scrolling.

Not only that, but you soon get the feeling that there's not very much to do except keep running around blowing those muthas into next week. I don't know about you, but I found this tends to pall after a while. Once you've completed the game you're unlikely to come back for afters.

What a shame, because it's well packaged, looks quite good and the unusual control system works very well once you've got used to it.

Looks better than it tastes. An uninspired shoot em up.

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OUT OF CONTROL

A word in your shell-like about the controls. At first I though 'Eek! This looks a bit tricky, what with movement controlled by one hand on the keyboard, while the other must nimbly flip across a baffling strip of icons to deftly pick from among other actions. This stump me and no mistake.'

In fact, it's really easy. On the left hand side are the up, down, left, right icons, with halt next to that. Into, which you use to go into teleports or doorways is next, followed by (Xmas tree shaped) jump. The twin lightning strikes are the shoot icon (using this and the keyboard, you can choose between which of the guns to use) and beyond that are defend (use this while running to roll under alien bullets - useful, huh?) and action (pick up or use what you're carrying).

Trickiest bits are when you must use two different actions - say jump and shoot - to kill a monster, and have to switch between the two before it kills you. Once this is mastered, you're 'laughing'.

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You'll need a map to finish off Obliterator. This one won't do, but it'll give you a rough idea about what you're aiming for.

What he should be doing here is rolling about on the floor (Excuse me? Ed) That way the alien wont't be able to hit him. (Oh. Ed)

Teleport doorway: it's a handy way of whizzing around the ship or nipping out of trouble.

Icon strip: using the fire option here Spec-chums, but check the column (Oo-er) on the left for clues to the other ones.

Lift down: better use this fast matey or that alien meanie's going to blow your ass away (But I don't even have a donkey. Ed)