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Image Works
1989
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£9.99
Multiple languages (see individual downloads)
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
None

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17
Mark Caswell, Phil King
Chris Bourne

HAVEN'T I SEEN THIS SOMEWHERE BEFORE?

Help! I' m trapped in a time warp, doctor! Every time I load up my computer, games like Break Out, Pac-Man and now Asteroids appear.

Don't worry about it, there is a cure. Buy a review magazine like CRASH and carry it everywhere - this will warn you when you're about to purchase something which could give you severe déjà vu. Now, here's an example, just read this...

Blasteroids may be the very latest coin-op conversion, but is basically Asteroids with knobs on. In this case the knobs are a two player mode and a host of glitzy gimmicks, actual gameplay isn't too bad though.

When the game begins there's a choice of four different warps of varying difficulty. Warps contain several galaxies, each comprising nine or sixteen sectors. Each sector is predictably chock-a-block with asteroids, which must be cleared to go on to the next sector. Most asteroids split into smaller fragments as they're shot, others are indestructible but freeze when shot, and some asteroids even chase you. The most welcome asteroids are purple, as they contain energy pods to boost your power.

Also to be looked out for are the pods released by the destruction of alien ships. There are eight temporary add-ons including double shot Blasters, turbocharger Ripstars, energy pod attracting Crystal Magnets, extra fuel capacity and so on.

Permanent blasting power is provided by a very clever ship which can transform into the Speeder (fast), Fighter (heavily armed) and Warrior (best armour). And in two player both ships can be docked to form a supership, one person manning the gun turret while the other panics at the flight controls.

Once a sector is completed, an exit portal appears to transport you to the Galactic Map. You can enter any adjacent sector and when all the sectors have been cleared it's time to take on Mukor, a giant green alien. Defeat him - by blasting away large wart-like (ugh!) growths on his sides-and its on to the next galaxy. On easy level there's just two galaxies, which are (surprise!) easily completed.

Once that easy level is completed are you going to be all fired up to blasteroid your way through the other three? Well, maybe-the old left/right rotate, forward for thrust, control system is still as awkward as ever, adding to playability, and graphics are generally good. The problem is that the Galaxy Map only gives a relatively shallow chance to plan strategy, and lacking any great depth you might not return to it that often.

Nevertheless if you want a simple blast-'em-up, with awkward controls and lots and lots of asteroids, look no further.

MARK ... 72%

Joysticks: Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: well-defined ships, but plenty of colour clash
Sound: good 128K title tune, fair ingame blasting effects
Options: definable keys. Two player mode. Four warps of varying difficulty

CRITICISM

'Turbocharged asteroids! Yes, the old favourite makes a souped-up comeback. You'll be glad to know that its original rock-blasting playability has been retained. But the range of extra features adds even more fun. One player can start off playing solo, and then if a friend arrives he can join in - good idea. Then there are the many add-ons to collect for your ship as well as a variety of asteroids and enemy ships. But the most interesting feature is the ability to change ship-size. As each size has both advantages and disadvantages, simple strategy is added to the arcade action. Unfortunately, clearing sector after sector eventually gets repetitive. The inclusion of four skill levels marginally improves lastability, but ten quid is a lot to pay for a few hours of fun.' PHIL ... 73%

General Rating: Great fun for a while, especially with two players.

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73%