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Super Sparklers
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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Ben Stone, Paul Sumner, Richard Eddy
Chris Bourne

Far away in the constellation of Alpha-Centauri, the Xenon race once lived in peace. Now however, their gentle world has been invaded by the evil armies of Argon. Long ago their planet, Xen, was protected by the Xenon Space Defence Corps, but superior enemy forces have devoured its finest men and arms. Now one crack fighter, Peladus is the sole survivor of that fighting force. If the people of Xen are to avoid permanent enslavement by the Argon dictatorship he is their only hope.

Swarms of enemy space craft come in to attack, some faster and more manoeuvrable than others. You have control of Peladus' fighter, which can be moved to the left and right, forwards and back. They attempt to destroy your fighter by using kamikaze tactics, flinging their craft into yours. Contact with them means a loss of one life. Your fighter has three lives, the number of lives remaining to you is registered on the right hand side of the screen. Be careful not to get caught in the blast as an enemy craft explodes, as this can take out your own fighter. Such blasts can be avoided by flying your space tighter backwards. Ten points are awarded for every enemy ship wiped out.

Both ground and spaceborne forces must be defeated before your mission is accomplished. By careful aiming, using the on screen sight, the pink ground based installations of the enemy can be taken out. For each of these destroyed, 100 points are awarded. When six bases have been devastated, the tighter receives an extra life to carry on in battle. The number of bases destroyed is indicated on the left hand side of the screen.

Before your mission is finally accomplished, four zones have to be liberated; the Outer Platforms, the Fields, the Desert, and the Inner Platforms. Only then can the people of Xen truly call themselves free once more.


'Zap zap, dodge, zap zap, zap zapity-zap (yawn!), dodge KAPAOWW!... Need I say more? (Yes! - Ed)... Xen is a Lightforce clone, and I doff my cap to sparklers for even attempting one. At first sight this looks as though it could be quite a good one, but the gameplay is severely lacking. A couple of plays should be enough to convince anyone that this isn't a game that'll keep them up half way into the night. The graphics are surprisingly good, but I feel that a little too much colour has been used, making the action confusing at times. On the whole I wouldn't recommend this - pretty, but boring.' BEN

'Lightforce immediately came to mind when playing Xen. Though if the idea works, I don't see why they shouldn't copy it a bit graphically. The sound on the title screen is a superb bit of buzz, and it's complemented by some very good spot effects during the game. The backgrounds are very detailed and well drawn. Unfortunately the opposing ships am let down by too much colour being used on them. This results in quite a large amount of flicker when they move about the screen. This is only a small problem though, the game is very addictive and fun to play. Definitely worth the asking price.' PAUL

'Well, if it isn't Lightforce - oh, hold on - no it's not. Doesn't half look like it though. So, what has PLAYERS cut price shoot 'em up got to offer that's sparkling with originality? As far as I could see, nothing - except that it has a tendency to place you in some very awkward positions - considered a 'challenge' by some, but just plain unplayable to me. Colour looks as if it has been used well, but when the action hots up it doesn't take much to make everything confusing visually. There's also little idea of depth - it just appears so two dimensional - which isn't the effect that is really needed here. On the plus, side, Xen has a reasonable price tag, but it still didn't do an awful lot for me.' RICHARD

Control keys: Defineable, Up, Down Left and Right
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Use of colour: wonderfully colourful but can be slightly confusing
Graphics: detailed and nicely scrolling backgrounds
Sound: funky tune and worthy spot effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: one continuously scrolling playing area
General Rating: A brave attempt to simulate Lightforce, but lacks that games playability.


Screenshot Text

Cameron's in deep trouble as there's no lives left, no bases destroyed, only 130 points scored and the enemy keeps on coming. We'll soon be advertising for a new photographer at this rate.