Ultimate in sideways scrolling mayhem

Denaris logo Amiga Computing Value Award

PREPARE to eat hot gamma rays, Alpha Centaurian! When you read a sentence like that you know you're either about to read an excerpt from Niven and Pournelle's Football, or it's the start of another shoot-'em-up review.

In this case it's a review, but before you start complaining, it isn't an ordinary run of the mill, seen it before, read it before review. No siree, because this is a review of the best sideways scrolling shoot-'em-up ever released for any home computer.

Now you all know that those spoilsports at Activision made US Gold keep Katakis off the market until after Christmas because it was so similar to R-Type. Well a few changes were ordered to while away the programmers' time, including the name, and now it's back, better and badder than before. It's a total blasting experience.

It all begins quietly enough with a parallax scrolling starfield filling virtually all of the screen save a small control panel at the bottom.

In troops an attack wave of laser fodder. Waste 'em. An icon pops up. Run it over and a nose appears from the stores, floating behind you. Go back and collect it. The nose is the essential accessory for trendy blasters, the difference between life and death.

Suddenly metallic-blue scenery scrolls in, missiles come hurtling towards you, stompers stomp across the bottom and floating aliens fire repeatedly. Before you can draw breath the next icon makes an appearance. The phoney war is over, the serious action starts here.

All this lot was actually level two of Katakis, but it has been modified and made easier to form the introduction to Denaris.

On you fly, encountering spiralling attack waves, laser gates dropping from the ceiling, large blocks which pile up blocking the way, hopping aliens, running aliens, aliens on jetbikes, aliens selling ice creams - only kidding - and not forgetting those lovely icons.

After dispensing with one huge mother of an alien at the end of the level, it's shock horror time on level two as throbbing spheres and wicked looking boomerang-style attacks are just a foretaste of what is to come. Scenery with nasty barbs and tricky passages is the order of the day. More jetbikers on a road to nowhere are just waiting to die for the cause of entertainment. Then again, I do hear the pay is good.

Tumbling panels - which were first seen in Xevious - and a swirling field of spacemines are two more of the hazards to be overcome before you get to really difficult stuff on level three.

This is a grey metallic hell with little room to manoeuvre and less time to react. Indeed the challenge at the end, which is a total R-Type steal involving a mechanical snake-like device, is impossible unless you have protective pods to keep out the point blank firing.

Around this time you might have collected what I take to be the final weapon to add to your arsenal - homing missiles. My, are they fun!

If you are looking for a game that needs fast reactions, that delivers a satisfying killing experience, that is the ultimate in sideways scrolling destruction, then look no further. Get a copy of Denaris, get that nose, and give those Alpha Centaurians some hot gamma rays.

Denaris logo


Those galactic fiends are at it again. You give 'em just enough time to get over your last attack and what do they do? Repair their lasers and start shooting photons at you again. Denaris, previously named Katakis, is US Gold's answer to the hugely popular R-Type.


Between the ravages of out-of-control computers and the unfortunate effects of nuclear war, the planet Denaris is in a fairly poor state. The idea is that you must fly over the confines of this over-powered planet and rid it of its robotic enemies. There is an advantage to this kind of vicarious extermination - lots of death without the blood.

It is a vertically scrolling shoot-em-up with enough enemies to make you wonder if you were really meant to be around. Besides blasting everything that moves and looks as ugly as a politician, you need to avoid the occasional indestructible missiles and pick up additional weaponry. These are not just a bonus, they are an essential. Unless you are well equipped you will never get very far.

Weapons range from a scatter-shot which will fire several missiles with each tap of the fire-button, right up to a power-shot, and multi-directional lasers. Besides these, there is a special attachment which will speed up gameplay. This might sound like a great idea but steering your ship around faster speeds is not to be advised - you drop dead quicker than an armadillo in a gas chamber.

Towards the end of each level you encounter one super monster. He does not generally move around too quickly but he soaks up firepower like a sponge. You will need to have acquired more than your fair share of weaponry to make an impression.

One of the best features of Denaris is the way you can retrieve weapons after resurrection. When you get killed you can start again the middle of a level, provided you have progressed far enough. Both laser weapons and the good old power-shot appear almost instantly so you won't need to face an onslaught of ugly characters without the basic requirements of all space-explorers.


Nobody would argue that the vertically scrolling shoot-em-up is addictive but it is such an old idea now that it takes a lot to make this type of game original. Where Denaris really excels is in the brilliance of its graphics. The scrolling is smooth, if a little slow at times. The huge number of different monsters which range from odd little astronaut heads to wandering robots have been superbly animated to such a degree that it gives you a warm glow watching them vanish in a puff of smoke. In addition, the end of level monsters are massive creatures which have been designed to look as menacingly as possible.

Sound effects are also a cut above average. Besides good load-up music there is real arcade-quality sound effects with echoing phaser noises over the gentle purr of your craft.


There has been much controversy over Denaris' similarity to Activision's R-Type, and it is not unfounded. Denaris is almost identical to the R-Type arcade game. However, it is far superior to the ST conversion with better servings of well-defined graphics, smooth scrolling and a more sophisticated feel about the whole game. There is still an interminable wait between levels but the arcade action is addictive as ever.

Denaris logo CU Amiga Screen Star

US Gold/Rainbow Arts
Price: £24.95

The Amiga version of Denaris is virtually a completely different game, bar the fact that they share the same plot and scroll the same way. It is nevertheless a very slick, albeit unoriginal, arcade game, which, if anything, owes even more to the original R-Type than its 64 counterpart.

The gameplay is the same, with you controlling the ship shooting the nasties and every so often receiving an icon to increase your shield and firepower with the same kind of weapons (bouncing lasers, homing missiles and a beam laser). Otherwise, the levels and most of the aliens are completely different to look at.

The only moan I have is the loading time between games though when placed up against Op Wolf on the Amiga it seems mercifully short (if you can call a minute short for restarting a game).

It is impossible to compare Amiga Denaris with the same game on the 64. What I can say is that it is another fantastic arcade shoot em up with all the vital additions essential for a great blast - hot graphics, a hot soundtrack coupled with neat sound effects. Denaris is very, very addictive. The number of levels and its toughness make it excellent value for money. Somehow, for me it does not quite match the playability of the 64 version. Still, that is no reason why 16 bit owners should turn down what is probably one of the finest Amiga shoot em ups to date.

Denaris logo

US Gold, C64 £8.99 cassette, £12.99 disk; Amiga £24.99

Ooh, a bit touchy one this. Do you remember waaaay back in Issue 42, when we had this amazing shoot 'em up in for review? Well we thought that it was so brilliant that we'd give it a Sizzler and stick a demo cassette on the cover. Six months of egg on our face later and the Katakis Phoenix rises from the ashes - US Gold unveil Denaris, a shoot 'em up with progressive weapons, add-on guns and stuff. Oh yeah - the game...

Your objective is to fly your fighter craft into a series of enemy installations and defeat the guardian that sits in front of the warp to the next sector. You start off with a single laser and a number of back-up craft, but as you play you can collect extra weapon pods (left behind by certain enemies) to help you on your way.

Maff Evans Well, the original Katakis review is a talking point if nothing else! Us innocent software reviewers just saying what we thought of a really good shoot 'em up and trying to be generous and give our loyal readers a present - and what happens? We land to our necks in... er... trouble. Luckily, things were sorted out and we can look at the now revamped Denaris with hindsight and see what we think. The two versions are in fact completely different - all they've got in common really is the shooting and the extra weapons bit. Personally, I prefer the 64 version. Its gameplay presents more of a challenge than the Amiga and the graphics and sound are just as good (within the machine's limitations). If you get the chance, have a go. You won't regret it, Dennis.
Kati Hamza I didn't review this the last time round even though I did play the game, so I missed out on all the aggro. Now that I've come to review Denaris, I can see that the Amiga version has changed a lot. The 64 version has undergone a number of cosmetic changes, enough to satisfy anyone that it isn't a blatant R-type clone, but it's managed to keep all the playability of the original. I reckon that the 64 version is the better of the two, basically due to the variety of the graphics, sound and tactics for each level - the Amiga version could do with a tad more. It's still an enjoyable game though - 'essential viewing for fans of the genre', as they say... well, they do at the Funny Farm where I come from.
Zzap's Rockford: Ah! I remember the days of K...