Tanks, but no tanks

Vindicators logo

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.

Vindicators logo


Domark launch the new Tengen label, on which most major Atari coin-op conversions will appear for three years, with this space-tank shoot-em-up for one or two players.

Controlling an SR 88 Strategic Battle Tank, the player must eliminate each one of 14 multi-level space stations, sent to conquer the earth by the evil alien Tangent Empire, by finding and destroying the control centre at the heart of each station. To reach the next level, the player must locate and trundle over a key.

Each level is defended with turrets and roaming tanks, but to make your job slightly easier a number of star symbols lying on the floor can be collected and traded for goodies such as increased shot power, speed and shield strength. Unfortunately, the tank is very fuel-hungry so you will also have to collect fuel canisters. After bombing a control centre the player enters a bonus room littered with goodies to collect.

Good coin-ops do not always make good computer games but, happily, Vindicators does. The 'viewed from almost directly above' perspective works well and the sprites and backgrounds are great, with the explosions worthy of particular note. Sound is not so impressive: sampled tunes are reasonable but effects are weak.

Vindicators is an out-of-the-ordinary shoot-em-up, very addictive and playable, especially when played with a friend. This is a good start for the Tengen label: let us hope everything that follows in the future is just as good.

Vindicators logo

Price: £19.99

Vindicators is the first title in a series of coin-op conversion by Domark's new label, Tngen. If you have not spotted the advertisements littered about the paces of your brightest daily (well, monthly), Tengen is the result of a contracted amalgation between Domark and Atari's coin-op division.

The time is 1400 hrs, on a Wednesday in the year 2525. 'Neighbours' has just finished with somebody switching off the statis machine that has kept Scott and Charlene's love alive for more than five centuries. This has left you in a mean mood, so you, and a friend if you so wish (if you have any that is - Gary Whitta is looking for some - check "Sell Out" for more details) strap on your "I Rolled The World T-Shirt", climb aboard your SR-88 Strategic Battle Tank and set out to wipe out the evil invasion force from the Tangent Empire that is attacking some space stations outside Galaxy TR15.

The game is a 16-way scroller set inside a confined space. Scattered about each level are three types of things. The first is obstacles, such as walls and holes in the floor. The second thing that you find are the nasties. Thesee can be gun turrets, embedded in the ground, or tanks, just like your own. All are a pain, and all have to be wiped out...

Finally you can find goodies. These exist in the form of fuel deposits, which replenish your fuel/shield, the key to open the exit to the next level, or stars. In the year 2525, stars are currency, and by collecting them, you can buy add-ons for your craft that turn it into a mean son of a muther. Things like boosters increase the top speed of your craft, longer range shots and special weapons. Some enemies can only be killed with the special weapons, in the way that airborne enemies can only be hit with rockets.

At the start of the game, you can choose which of the three levels you wish to begin on, easy, medium or, yes you guessed it, banana. On medium or hard level you get a big star bonus if you complete the level. But you do not if you start on easy. Who wants to credit a wimp?

The graphics have been converted well from the coin-op. The backdrops look metallic in a metallic sort of way and the tanks rotate smoothly. The scrolling is quite nice as well. The best bits, though, are the explosions. Large, colourful and loud.

The sound is fab. Lots of samples to be heard all the way through including the countdown, as well as tank engine and firing noises.

A good start to the label that looks set to provide us with some pretty nice products this year. One to look out for.

We hoped to bring you something on the 64, but at time of going to press, the game was behind schedule - so far in fact that we could not even review it. Review asap.

Vindicators logo

Domark, Amiga £19.99

The fourteen space stations of the Tangent Empire are floating around the cosmos, annihilating civilisations. Earth's leaders, on hearing of the Empire's dirty deeds, have sent you on a mission to eliminate the alien threat.

In this multi-directional scrolling shoot-em-up, it is you alone (or with a friend) against the destructive might of a huge alone onslaught. Scattered around each of the fourteen stations (each containing three levels) are energy stars which, at the end of every stage, can be traded in for extra speed, shields etc.

Paul Rand Vindicators is an extremely professionally looking product which looks and sounds fine, but it doesn't take an age to realise that there isn't much action behind the aesthetics. Enemies are surprisingly sparse, leaving you with the though: 'Well, if this is all there is attacking Earth, why bother climbing out of bed?'. It's not the conversion that's at fault though - it's the original arcade machine.
Robin Hogg The original Vindicators coin-op wasn't that special to start off, even with the two-player mode. Domark have produced a very good conversion, but even when you jump to one of the hard levels the action remains sluggish. Graphics and sound, being so close to the arcade game, are ironically rather dull. Still, fans of the coin-op should be well pleased with this, and the two-player game is reasonable.