Abacus Programs
Kevin Flynn
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 16K

Chris Bourne

Fire flash is a very superior Missile Defence type game and a Games Designer in one! Abacus seems to specialise in games requiring seven or eight digit hands and good co-ordination as well. This is certainly no exception!

You are in command of four missile sites which are protecting your planet from attacking multi-warhead missiles. These, it seems, have managed to get through the Sentinel system due to your ineptness as a space pilot in the former game of the same name! How they imagine you're going to do better on the ground than you did in space is another matter, but the people at Abacus are obviously kind in their judgement! The four launch pads are connected by underground tunnels which deliver fresh missiles as long as they remain undamaged. At either end of the screen stand two laser towers which only fire horizontally.

The incoming missiles split up into four smaller warheads if they are not quickly destroyed. You can select which launch pad to use and after firing your Fireflash missile, guide it to the enemy missile and detonate it. To add to the problems there is a small red space craft which goes about, just under the umbrella of laser fire, bombing all your installations. Using a guided Fireflash on it is dicey as you're as likely to blow up your own buildings as the enemy!

If it's all too fast Abacus have provided a marvellous facility for redesigning features of the game. By pressing key zero (POKE) you are asked for the memory address of the item you wish to alter. These are all listed on the excellent Inlay, so there's no difficulty involved It's possible to alter the following: speed of game, speed of reloads, speeds of laser heating Of it overheats through use you must wait for it to cool down), probability of blaster appearing, elapsed time before two bombs used - three bombs used - two blasters used.

In addition to Fireflash on side two of the tape is a game called Destroyer.


'At last, a game when there's action all the time for the 16K Spectrum. Very good colours and smooth graphics. A very fast game. excellent playability, good value and - just brilliant!'

'Definitely a game requiring skill in timing. Like their Sentinel, the guided missiles are fast and exceptionally responsive - even too much so, as it's easy to turn one right round and blow up yourself while trying - to do three other things at once. Fortunately I was able to slow the speed of the game down with the POKE facility - not that it did much good! The graphics are colourful, neat and very smooth moving. 1 always thought Sentinel was underrated - I hope this one won't be.'

'Fast, fast, fast! Some may think too fast to be good and too busy to cope with. If you're bored with arcade games to date, try this one, whatever else it does - It won't bore you! Pity the end of life sequence takes so long after the final planet levelling bomb has gone off. They could have made it quicker so you can have another go

Keyboard layout
Joystick option: none
Keyboard play: highly responsive
Use of colour: very good
Sound: very good
Skill levels: nine but redefinable with POKE facility

General Rating:


Screenshot Text

It takes every finger on all your three hands to save civilisation for mankind in FIREFLASH.