Gold/Arena Graphics, £9.95 cass, £14.95
O Superb Defender-based
Nine different enemies, furious action
Brilliant graphics, excellent control
futuristic space battle with roots in Defender
and Jetpac comes to your screens in this absolutely
game places you in a similar scenario to Defender
-- fighting enemies above a two-way scrolling landscape.
And the character you control is straight out of Jetpac
-- an armed space-man equipped with a jet-powered backpack.
But it's the differences that will get the blood pounding
through your temples.
a start the graphics: they make Defender look
prehistoric. The single-line planet surface has been
transformed into a realistic, rugged terrain, covered
in volcanic craters and lava pools. Yet it scrolls every
bit as fast and smoothly as in Defender. The
aliens (there are nine species instead of Defender's
six), your character, and the scanner, are also graphically
much more detailed.
Then there's the scenario. Although superficially similar
to Defender in that you're trying to protect
scientists on the planet surface, the task this time
is more complex. Instead of being carried away by landers,
the men are under threat from Androids which are deposited
on the planet surface by Planters (see accompanying
box). Your job is to rescue the men before this
can happen, and to destroy all the planters and other
aliens. Once all are destroyed, you receive bonus points
and then a new, more difficult wave of enemies.
rescue takes place like this: the scientists roll along
the planet's surface in spherical survival pods. By
flying into them, you automatically pick them up. Then
you must carry them (one at a time) to the relative
safety of the planet silo. By moving over the 'dropzone',
a moving cross-shaped platform, the men are automatically
dropped off and roll into the silo.
by any chance you lose all your men, you'll be in real
trouble because the planet starts to erupt -- the volcanoes
spew out white hot rocks and all the aliens turn into
anti-matter which bounces about, making it very hard
to stay alive. What's more, you won't get a new set
of eight men until the next fifth or tenth attack wave.
sounding a formidable task, your Jetman has excellent
armament. Firepower is superb: massive rapid-firing
laserpower, space-bar activated smart bombs (which,
as in Defender, destroy everything on screen),
and an 'inviso cloak' (to activate, hit any key apart
from the space-bar) which will allow you to go through
everything including your men! Although the cloak is
a vital defence, it can only be used for a short amount
of time before the inviso power runs out. After each
wave it will be replenished.
Underneath the main screen display there is a superb
scanner -- a miniature display of the whole planet,
which you can use to see all the trouble spots and where
the action is at. The scanner is so good, it's almost
possible to play Dropzone without looking at
the main display!
The attack waves are of two sorts. NORMAL waves feature
all the aliens complete with androids, planters etc.
TRAILER INVASIONS come every fourth wave (see box).
These are very tough and require some solid blasting
to survive. You still have to collect the men and take
them to the dropzone, only this time there are no planters
and androids . . . well, not until the higher levels
where the fun really starts.
Fortunately, every 10,000 points you receive a new life
and a new smart bomb (three of each to start with).
At the end of a game you are also given a rating, from
the lowliness of 'practice recommended' to the highest
I've achieved: 'mega-star'. I'm not sure how far the
ratings go, but they are many and humourous.
Game feel is excellent and has fantastic control potential
for an experienced Dropzoner. You have four-way joystick
control over the Jetman, but you have to allow for his
inertia and also the effect of the planet's (weak) gravity
too is ace: arcade quality blasting which is loud, original,
and varied, and really adds to the game.
Any shmup fan who doesn't have this game as pride of
place in his software collection is either a total wimp
or needs to undergo psychiatric treatment now!