Phantasm logo


Ooh, this looks good! Phantasm comes in a nice shiny box with a pic of a scantily clad girly watching some alien spaceships blow up buildings. Opening the box reveals a cute little sign saying 'Do not disturb - Mission in Progress' that you can hang on your door. What a novel marketing gimmick!

Unfortunately, a much better and more reliable way to sell a lot of games is to make sure the actual game is a good one, and Exocet software obviously are not aware of this yet. Loading the disk up reveals quite a blantant rip off tof that ol' CRL classic Tau Ceti, the only difference between the two games being that Phantasm does not have any strategic elements, and as such is nowhere near as playable as the game it is seeking to emulate.

After entering your name and the exact time (why???) you can select a combat zone from a neat picky of the planet you will be desecrating. You are then plunged straight into the game proper. You view the outside world from your cockpit window while all the information necessary to playing the game, such as fuel left, damage, compass directions and time is displayed.

Outside, typically Tau Ceti-ish aliens zoom by firing at you (they look EXACTLY like the hunter patrol craft from Tau Ceti) and these can be quickly done away with either a burst of laser fire or a homing missile (of which you have nine).

The landscape features some in the form of Beacons (mutant roadlights) and Supply Dumps, where you can refuel and arm, as well as a couple of others that look like outsize dog-jobbies (and probably are).

The ultimate aim of Phantasm is to destroy eight 'reconstitutions' dotted around the planet, but to be perfectly honest, I could not do any of them. Not because it is too tough (in fact the skill levels are not much different to one another) but because the gameplay is so incredibly tedious that I gave up in sheer boredom.

As if Exocet wanted to rub salt in my already serious wounds, they have provided the lamest game scenario I have ever read in my life. Apparently, you are on the run from the dreaded Poll Tax collector, and the only way to get away from him is to fall asleep and have dreams about space adventures.

Then one day you are whisked off to an alien planet to wage terrible war against a bunch of mutants, where the game begins. This is not a joke, this is actually what is written on the instruction leaflet that comes with the game. Is it not PATHETIC? A game with a plot that bad does not deserve to have a good game wasted on it, so at least Exocet have remedied that by accompanying it with Phantasm.

I suppose I'd better complete my moaning session by criticising the graphics and sound, which for the most part are pretty dull. While the static graphics on the mission selection screens and on the cockpit display are quite snazzy, the animation is very shoddy and the sprites have not been at all well defined.

The title screen and in-game music is irritating, and although you can toggle it off and just have the FX, the instructions do not tell you how to, so you have to fumble around with the keyboard until you find the right key.

So, to sum up, Phantasm is not very good at all. If you know what is good for you, you won't waste your hard-earned readies on this. Instead you will buy something decent like Buggy Boy or Leatherneck, won't you?

Phantasm logo

Exocet, £19.95 disk

In this cruel world, existence is never easy, and it is only in your dreams that you can escape its harsh realities. In a sleeping vision, you are taken into the future to pilot the spaceship Pegasus and destroy eight reconstitutions placed around a distant moon. Cor, isn't life really tough sometimes?

Phantasm puts you in the pilot's seat, and, once one of four skill levels has been chosen, a target section of the moon is selected before launch. A large viewing window is surrounded by various indicators which show the levels of anti-missile energy, height above ground, shield power, fuel remaining, laser temperature, speed and speed booster. A compass, missile counter and in-range/tracking/damage also have displays. A small radar screen gives your approximate position on the sector of the moon.

Gordon Houghton A cross between Backlash and Tau Ceti in both appearance and gameplay, Phantasm is fairly predictable shoot 'em up fodder. However, it does have some appeal: the selection of an attack quadrant from a map of the globe is original (-ish!), and is followed by an effective picture of the Pegasus ship launching. Lack of new ideas doesn't affect the land skimming fun; most shoot 'em ups are worth playing if they're competently done, which this is. The 3D effect is minimal, and the action a bit of the slow side, but Phantasm is decent, if overpriced.
Paul Glancey The first thing that hit me was Phantasm's music - it's very good indeed, and doesn't consist of a long sample, for a change. The game itself reminds me of Backlash, only with less attractive graphics. The revolving heads-up display is almost an exact replica of Paul Woakes' design, and Phantasm plays like his game as well, only it's not as fast-paced. Hunting down targets and hopefully finding a reconstitution building (why couldn't Exocet give them the usual kind of silly pseudo- sci fi name, like any other software house would!) brought out my aggressive side - I don't know where from! Some shoot 'em up thrills can be gained from this derivative game, if you're prepared to stump up the high asking price.