HERE is a surprise - a fleet of hostile space stations is loitering with intent just 53 miles west of Venus. The burghers of Planet Earth are getting understandably hot under the collar. It is a good job, then, that they have developed a mega battle tank, the SR-88 Vindicator.
Let me guess which party has volunteered to drive the thing: Merv Klein from Athens, GA has just sawn his leg off for charity, so you are the only one qualified. What a surprise. Once through the Van Allen belt you get a chance to check out your dinky little engine of destruction. Despite its jaunty paintwork and rotational controls, this jalopy packs quite a punch.
If you are not too faimilar wityh the vehicle, Mission Control suggests you take on the first station because it is entirely staffed with nerds. Stroll in, knock off a few brainless tanks and gun emplacements, get the key and exit to the next level. Easy.
The staff are so stupid that they have left all their Action Man stars lying about, ripe for the picking. Collect enough of these and you can choose new bolt-on goodies when you go back to ship. The best ones to get are the Increase Shot Range tokens, which allow you to take out things, before they do the same to you.
As with the arcade original, these tokens are cumulative, so it is relatively easy to upgrade your tank to something fairly intense. Some Smart Shots come in handy, especially when things are getting out of hand.
Once through to the top level your task is to destroy the control centre, which can be a valuable source of bonus bits if you do not mess up and get trashed with the rest of the centre.
If you choose to play this the two-player way the dominant player can nick all the good bits, leaving the garbage to the other sucker. Your people would not do that, would you?
Once you have endured the tacky spaceflights scene, and man is it tacky, you get to the next space station, which has a few less nerds and loads more tanks. In fact, tanks a million! (Spike Milligan is the one to blame for that one).
The graphics are, as they should be, totally faithful to the arcade, with all the right things appearing at the right time. The sound is exceedingly faithful to the arcade as long as you are used to hearing it through several layers of old socks. It is fuzzy and rankly it stinks.
One small problem surfaces when large amounts of scenery start appearing. The durn thing slows down to a snail's pace because the programmers felt they had to use software sprites to achieve the desired effects.
Hmmm, probably had to use a 200 line screen for the desired effect too. And that desired effect, dear ridres, is to make the Amiga conversion a quick job after the ST one The programmers claim momory problems.
Do not get me wrong. Vindicators is an exceedingly playable game that stopped me toying with Daleks for a while. The graphics are good, it is just that when things start getting sticky they also start getting slow.
The B52 board - that is what is in the A500 - is capable of a lot more than just a bare 68000: the conversion is faithful, but not well done. If Domark had not cut corners, Vindicators would probably have got an Excellence gong. At least we have not been charged an extra fiver for a poor ST port.