Richard Wilcox
1984
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£5.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

8,9
Chris Bourne

With the TV series of the same name on our screens Richard Wilcox should be assured good sales of his well promoted and now available game, but of course that still depends on the game itself, and Blue Thunder appears to stand the test with flying colours.

The basic objective is to fly your jetcopter off the deck of a ship, fly across a sea infested with islands, all heavily defended by the enemy, reach a base where many of your men are being held prisoner and rescue them. To do this you must come to rest over the base, shoot out a whirling, rising and falling device which results in a nuclear reactor shooting up out of the ground behind you. This is unstable, so you must destroy it quickly. The reactor is protected by some of the most state of the art hi-tech you've ever seen (wait for this) Photo-electric perimeter shield with Hyper-Phase Lazer deactivated lock externally, and internally and indestructible intermittent ultra-sonic quantum blaster!

What this actually means is that you must shoot away the yellow forced field by hitting the rising blue stripe in it, then edge into the reactor core, wait for a fractional gap between the intermittent ultra-sonic thingie and then bomb the hell out of the moving red dot on the floor of the reactor.

Getting to the enemy base is no picnic. Most of the islands are equipped with heat seeking rocket launchers or gun turrets, and on subsequent levels, not only do these fire more frequently at you, but they are joined by fighter planes, indestructible barrage balloons and a submarine armed with missiles that has a nose like a bloodhound. Top that off with a rapidly declining fuel supply and you have a game which should sort out the men from the boys.

CRITICISM

'The centre piece of Blue Thunder is, of course, the jetcopter. This is a neat piece of graphics; which ever way it is facing - left, right or straight out of the screen, under power it behaves just like a real helicopter, nose down under power, rearing back when braking. This also means that you can fire at a variety of angles, including straight down when facing 'out' of the screen. Getting past the guided rockets is quite an art. An element of luck creeps in because the various installations don't always fire at you as you pass, but they don't follow a standard pattern either, so you never know when it'll happen. Throughout, the graphics are excellent with tons of detail and very smoothly scrolling pixel movement. It's a challenging and maddening game. I recommend it highly.'

'I timed the review so that I did it after watching an episode of the Blue Thunder TV series - you've had the film, the TV series, now play the game! The graphics are superb, with plenty of colour, and the sound too is realistic - the chopper sound is particularly good. The main problem, in fact, the only problem, is the choice of keys. There is a multi-function fire button which will fire, turn the chopper through 90° and 180° respectively, depending on the length of key press. Spectrum keys are not ideal for this and it tends to make things a little hard, especially when firing over-ambitiously. But once you get used to this idiosyncrasy the game soon grows on you. In fact it's an excellent game.'

'Marvellous graphics, and good sound, plenty of colour, and action all the way. Totally maddening! The scrolling seascape is very good, but the effect of the unstable reactor appearing suddenly for the first time is like an amazing magic trick - a real effect! Getting in there is a job for experts with perhaps a bare second to manoeuver in, and shoot before the ultra-sonic gun gets you. Good hi-res explosions too. I've seen a few games recently from new companies which have sadly failed the test, but Blue Thunder passes with flying colours and proves itself a major Spectrum game. The idea of a multi-function fire and direction key is a boon once you adjust to the idea as it makes for many less control keys.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: Q/A = up/down, X/V = left/right, C = fire (short), turn 90° (medium), turn 180° (long)
Joystick: Kempston
Keyboard play: very responsive
Colour: very good, even startling
Graphics: excellent
Sound: very good
Skill levels: 5
Lives: 3
Screens: scrolling across approximately 8 times the screen width

General Rating: highly addictive, very good value, generally excellent.

78%
95%
90%
89%
94%
92%
90%

Screenshot Text

Having shot away the Hyper-Phase Laser deactivated lock, the chopper faces the indestructible intermittent ultr-sonic quantum blaster - sounds like Blue Fun-der.

On the higher skill levels, even getting off the deck can be difficult.