Let get this show on the road

Action Fighter logo

NOW this is what I have been waiting for. Chuck away the instructions, we won't need them. Just pop the disc in the drive and flex those wrist muscles. A few presses of the Fire button and already the game has started. No tedious little animations or jingles here, this is serious arcade gaming. A conversation of a Sega coin-op no less, and for once the arcade feel has been carried through to the home computer.

Ah, the joys of hardware scrolling. It's been a while since there has been a serious attempt to produce a vertical scrolling road game. This one is just the way I like them - swing a leg over your motorbike and with a squeal of Dunlops you're off, leaving only a treadmark on the gunmetal road.

Sneak up behind a few cars and open up with the cannons, riding through the explosions in search of a few more to take out. Gangs of dispatch riders can be bumped off the road, but pay special attention to the Sunday drivers doing 20 in their red Ladas.

Extra weapons are supplied by a small truck which allows you to ride up inside while the pit crew fit the extra cannons front and rear, guided missiles and a neat line in all-over body shields. The missiles are especially useful for taking out the helicopters which buzz around dropping the occasional bomb.

Your reward for destroying all the excess traffic is to have your bike upgraded to a car. The obvious insult of having your lovely bike replaced by a cage on wheels is quickly remdied by a press on the spacebar.

Just as in real life, riding a bike has many benefits over the car, although the more cautious and uncool among you may wish to stick with four wheels and the resulting loss of manoeuvrability and acceleration.

The helicopter pilot is obviously in the British Motorcycle Association because he only attack you when you are driving the car. Once various little floating letters have been collected, the whole game changes. Now you're flying a jetcar over enemy territory, with cannons and bombsights to match.

The landscape scrolls smoothly underneath, with little gun emplacements and depots to bomb. Airborne mines and fighters attack, but your pitcrew has followed you into the skies flying a large Helishop for those little cosmetic changes...

Finally you cruise over a large software house, err, ocean, where the mission objective may be accomplished by destroying three U-boats which rise and fall like Amstrad's profits.

So ends the first level. With four more to go you soon wish for a Continue? option. But since there isn't one, you make darn sure that every life counts. Each mission features extra baddies, so there is always something new to look forward to killing. The Pause button is essential for background tasks such as eating, visiting the bathroom and drinking coffee, while the President gives you yet another death-defying mission to undertake. (Where is Dan Quail?)

Action Fighter manages to cram every conceivable scenario from every vertical scroller ever written into one jam-packed game. With five multi-stage missions, it will take a long time for your wrist to recover from this one. It may look five years out of date, but it's true arcade action.

Everyone needs at least one shoot-'em-up in their software collection not written by the Bitmap Brothers - make sure it's Action Fighter.

Action Fighter logo

Schon war, es gibt schlechtere Spiele für den Amiga als diese mißglückte Umsetzung eines Sega-Automaten - aber nur ganz, ganz wenige! Ich habe jedenfalls das Weihnachtsgeschenk für meinen liebsten Freund hiermit gefunden.

Die äußerst komplexe Handlung läßt sich in all ihren faszinierenden Einzelheiten so beschreiben: Schnuller (Motorrad) fährt durch Muster (Stadt) von unten nach oben, schießt auf rechteckige Auflaufformen (Autos) und verwandelt sich nach Einsammeln von Buchstaben in einen Briefkasten oder Staubsauger (Auto/Flugzeug).

Dabei können von intelligenten Teppichen (Lkw's) vier hochmoderne Zusatzwaffen erworben werden, die durch ungeahnte Fähigkeiten wie Doppelschuß und Rückwärtsschuß zu überzeugen wissen: Selbst ein Steven Spielberg würde bei diesen Effekten vor Neid erblassen!

Nur für geübte Masochisten und solche, die es werden wollen: Der interessanteste Teil beginnt, sobald man zum Flugzeug mutiert ist - eine derart schlechte Space Invaders-Variante gab es auf dem Amiga schon lange nicht mehr!

Hinzuzufügen ist eigentlich nur noch, daß das hohe Niveau natürlich auch in puncto Sound, Grafik und, last but not least, Preis gnadenlos durchgezogen wird. Schade um Geld, Zeit und Mühe, wenn am Ende ein geistiger Tiefflieger wie Action Fighter dabei herauskommt! (Felix Bübl)

Action Fighter logo

Price: £24.99

Apparently, this is one of SEGA's slightly larger successes. If so, how come I've never heard of it? Anyway, that's not what I'm here for. What I am here for is to tell you just how mega brilliant AF really is.

The obvious comparison I have to make is just how similar to Spy Hunter the game really is. You have to drive along a top-to-bottom scrolling roadway at high speed, shooting other vehicles oft the road and climbing aboard the occasional truck to gain extra weapons, such as a missile which you can use to shoot down the helicopters that pass overhead and bomb you. Sound familiar?

Of course, that's not the whole story. You actually start out as a motorbike, racing hell-for-leather across the tarmac with your only thoughts being on one of your four missions, and staying alive long enough to finish them.

As you drive along, you have to enhance your vehicle. This is done in two ways. Firstly, you climb aboard the weapons vans that appear at random intervals and give you, in order of appearance, double shots, a missile for shooting helicopters, rear fire and temporary invulnerability.

As you race along the road, capsules float down at you, each with a letter embossed upon them. There are six to collect, lettered from A to F. collect A, B, C and D and you are granted the ability to transform into a car which, although not as fast or manoeuvrable as a bike, is much more durable and isn't so easy to destroy. Collect all six, and at the end of the roadway you'll transform into a jet car and take to the skies, where you will fly to the subject of your mission and destroy it.

The scrolling is incredibly fast, much too fast in many cases, as is the joystick response. This sudden amazing playability takes a little bit of getting used to, but once it does, AF is a very fun game to play. At last we have a 16 bit version of Spy Hunter.

I never saw the coin op, so I can't really make any comparisons to graphics or sound. However, the sprites and backdrops are a little on the simple side, probably because the game is, once again, an ST port. Sound is simple spot FX, there isn't anything really mind-blowing about it.

A fun game, and one well worth getting hold of if you just want something fast and destructive.

Action Fighter logo

Firebird, C64 £9.99 cassette, £19.99 disk; Amiga £24.99

This must be the most obscure Sega coin-op since Hall Of Kairos, aka Desolator. It hands you with the responsibility of completing five different missions for the president. To help you defeat the relentless enemy attack you have the world's most advanced transforming vehicle.

You start off with it in motorbike mode, collect the A,B,C, and D icons which float down the screen and you can transform into a car. Pressing 'space' allows you to flip between them as necessary. The bike is fast, and can jump gags in the road which would destroy the car, but then the car isn't blown up by the slightest touch from other vehicles. Collect E and F and it's jet-car time. Flying off into the clouds to blast the swirling enemy aircraft waves. Here you have a mission objective which must be bombed or shot.

While zooming along in any of the vehicles forms you may bump into a Sega van with add-on weapons such as double fire-power, missiles, reverse firing and limited invulnerability.

Robin Hogg We're really beginning to scrape the barrel now in terms of coin-ops to convert (have you seen an Action Fighter coin-op around?). The 64 version is a fairly mediocre Spyhunter derivative with some neat cars, a great bike to car transformation scene and that's about all (sound is instantly forgettable). Anything that is worth merit on the C64 is lost on the Amiga game with graphics nowhere near an average Amiga standard, likewise sound effects and a far too tough skill level.
Stuart Wynne Brilliant. The mean, laser-sharp contours of the artwork's car are really good. Of course, the artwork has been used for at least one game before, so no bonus points for that. Which is a pity since the sensible idea of doing an updated Spyhunter has otherwise been fairly disastrous. On both versions graphic and sonic presentation is banal, while playability is frustrating and unrewarding.