A computer terminal sputters into life, warning you that a remote colony is under attack. After leaping into your Acme space jalopy, you blast off, closely followed by three reserve craft flying under autopilot. Traversing the deep blackness of space, you head for Sirius 7 and the unknown enemy.
On arrival things look bleak. Droves of small-alien fighter craft pour out from the usurped colony, bearing down on your tiny spacecraft. Only your lightning-fast reactions can save you from certain death.
Power Without a Point
Despite the weak and predictable plot, Sirius 7 is a game that needs little or no underlying concept to make it work. Falling fairly and squarely into the "I’m a shoot-em-up, me!" category, it could just as easily have been you versus the ‘Halbut-eating Megaliths from the brown side of Uranus’ or some such irrelevant nonsense. As a player, you will be too busy concentrating on the blastability and speed than such fussy little details like the plot.
And that, sadly, is where Sirius 7 falls down. Yes, it is fast and yes, there is a high level of fire-power. But that’s as far as it goes. Sirius 7 lacks any kind of originality or taxing gameplay. Without either of these important features, fire-power and speed are lame attempts at creating the illusion of a superior game.
Familiarity Breeds Contempt
The game begins with an impressive looking introductory sequence with a well chosen arcade tune, but it bears an uncanny resemblance to Blood Money. It features the prerequisite scrolling starfield, overlaid sprites and small scene-setting cameos, but it’s a hollow echo of Blood Money’s far superior effort.
Once the actual game section has loaded, though, all the similarity to Blood Money ends. From then on it bears a similarly striking resemblance to Denaris, Xynapse, Delta and countless other shoot-em-ups, but minus the required gameplay.
What Sirius 7 lacks in gameplay and plot, it also lacks in graphics. The sprites throughout the game bear yet another striking resemblance to another great shoot-em-up, Xenon II. Is it really that difficult to be original? Small (and believe me, they’re small) tinny-looking blobs and spiky doo-dahs pour onto the screen from the right-hand side, dump a couple or three badly-aimed red blobs and wibble around on screen until you bosh them, or they reach the left hand edge. Keeping your finger firmly on the fire button is the best way to deal with them, preferably whilst waggling the joystick around in a reasonably random manner.
The better looking end-of-level guardians (golly, that’s a new and exciting idea!) are child’s play to reach, provided you can tolerate extreme levels of tedium on the way. And when you’re there, these supposedly powerful and dangerous creatures can be popped off with a few straightforward wallops.
All Tack and Tech
Technically Sirius 7 fulfils the main requirement of a scrolling shoot-em-up: it scrolls, and it shoots. The mechanics of the game’s system are competent enough, but the actual game is poor to the extreme. Things like collision detection do work reasonably well and the scroll-speed is nice and fast. It’s just the drudgery of endless, repetitive alien-bashing that spoils a potential good game.
There’s absolutely no variation, no collectables, no exciting "Cor, I didn’t see him coming"-type baddies or anything remotely new or interesting.
The clear crisp sounds are a welcome visitor. But only for the first 356 hearings. After that, you begin to tire quickly of the same throaty, thud-thudding of the ship’s machine gun and there’s little else to bring redemption to this unappealing travesty of a shoot-em-up.