There are definite downsides to this job. One of them is trying to pad out a six hundred word review of a shoot 'em up when you know full well that everyone in the entire universe knows exactly what the scenario is. Allow me to reproduce the Industry Standard Shoot-'Em-Up Scenario Creator, free with Amiga Gamer...
The year is (insert four number here, the first one must be higher than 2). The human race is being threatened by the evil (insert name of alien race here, word must have ratio of one vowel to every four consonants to be realistic). You must pilot the new breed of starship (insert name of starship here, must start with an X or Z or sound like a Fifties Ford car), designed to be (insert hyperbole here). But things go tragically wrong, as you and your fleet fly into the night (hum dramatic music here and make some gratuitous comment about wives weeping as they depart), they are ambushed by the (insert alien name here), and you are the only one left (waffle for a paragraph about how only you can do it and that no-one else is strong enough to face the challenge). Conclude with something along the lines of "Have you the skill, with and reflexes to do the job?".
That's about it really. Any names you think of or any little nuances can be incorporated into that little template. Brilliant, isn't it? But, fair play to ' em, the Zoo have included a wee novella in the manual to pad it out a bit. Actually, it is the manual. It's reasonable, but hardly original. Electronic Zoo claim this is the fastest two-way scrolling shoot-' em-up game to date. They're not wrong, it does scroll brilliantly fast - the only problem is that most of the time you'd rather just sit there and fire and not have to worry about flying into things.
The majority of the aliens, you see, have very static patterns moving in a formation about a fixed point, so the last thing you want to be doing is racing back and forth like the proverbial yo-yo.
But if you like needless speed then this could be the thing for you. The gameplay is simplistic - most levels are played against the clock, giving you a set length of time to defeat a series of aliens, or you don't make it on to the next level - and as you defeat each one, the ship is powered up to the next level of firepower. If you die, you lose one level of power-up. Graphically it is very simple, but if it had to be so it could cope with the rate of scrolling without going up in smoke. There are very few sprites onscreen at once, There's only one basic landscaping at top and bottom, and nothing in between to give you any idea of speed when you move off the edge of the landscape.
This is often crucial as you may have to move off, turn around and come back on to attack, but if you don't know how fast you are going then it may all go tragically wrong.
The sound relies all too heavily on one Uzi sample for the gun, but the tune is ace, and sounds like a chill-out room at a rave. What more could you want after a heavy blasting session?
Playability isn't as bad as you might think. It's good fun and quite a challenge, but it just doesn't add up to all it should This is probably because they couldn't animate the sprites as fast as the ship. It will provide a new twist for shoot-' em-up fans, but only the real addicts. Ah well, not a bad try lads.