Wendetta 2175 logo

The more things change, the more Andy Smith gets left behind. Still, it's good to know the shoot-em-up is alive and well...

Seems like ages since I’ve played a half decent shoot-em-up and it’s absolutely yonks since I’ve played one that’s as imaginative as Wendetta 2175.

There’s the usual scenario stuff – you versus a race of aliens that want to eat you, (read an interesting piece in the Guardian the other week, someone was wondering if visiting aliens would have the moral right to hunt and eat us, given that they would have superior intelligene and would therefore be aware of our emotions? But anyway…) and, of course, you’re the only one who’s able to save the world. That’s not strictly true because W2175 is a simultaneous two-player game, if you fancy some help.

You know the drill
There are all the usual shoot-em-up ingredients: fly left to right, shooting at all the enemy ships that come at you from both sides of the screen, and collect little spinny icons that affect your ship in various ways – usually boosting your firepower and giving you the odd extra life. The familiar ‘come back alive with one less weapon’ system is here too – as you go through the game you gradually build up your firepower until you’re shooting in pretty much all directions.

Manage to get yourself killed (not difficult at some points in the game like when there’s a whole string of meteorites bouncing onto the screen giving you nowhere to hide) and when you restart you’ve lost one of the weapons you had before – this isn’t too serious if you were fully tooled up, but it can be tricky if you’ve died a couple of times in a short space of time because you’re right back to the puny laser you started off with.

...the gameplay's solid and challenging and there are some lovely background graphics to fly over.

Under fire
But there are also some more imaginative bits that you are less likely to have come across before. Several times during the missions (the game’s levels are called missions and you’re given a code at the end of each mission so you don’t have to keep ogoing through all the early levels) you’ll find that the enemies come from the most unlikely of places. There are times when you find your guns don’t work and you have to survive for a set number of seconds (there’s a timer at the centre bottom of the screen) amid a bunch of crashing asteroids.

Then there are the moments when you can’t progress past a particular bunch of aliens until you’ve registered enough hits on ‘em (again, the counter in the middle of the screen gives you the info). This is what happens when you encounter the end-of-mission bosses too,so seeing them off can take a while.

You can take a couple of hits before dying (there’s a teeny-tiny strength meter for each player at the bottom of the screen) so just a slip here and there is okay, because you can get away with it.

All the little extras work well within the framework of the main game and add up to keep it fresh and interesting. But don’t lose sight of the fact that the framework of the main game is just a shoot-em-up with all the usual bits attached.

There are times when you find your guns don't work and you have to survive for a set number of seconds...

Power up and play
I like W2175 though, it’s better than your average shooter because the gameplay is solid and challenging and there are some lovely background graphics to fly over (as well as the enemy sprites). It’s not the greatest game since sliced bread but it’s good that some of our old favourite genres are not being forgotten and it’s reassuring to know that people still have the imagination to be able to add new twists and features.

The only thing to bear in mind is that you’re going to need a pretty powerful Amiga to run the thing, but that seems to be the way of most things these days, so presumably most people have updated their machines.

So there you have it. Wendetta 2175 is a better-than-average shoot-em-up with a couple of nice features and good gameplay. Play it with a mate in two-player mode and you’ll have even more fun but it doesn’t get any harder so you’ll get through it much quicker, which doesn’t exactly help its value-for-money rating an awful lot.

Wendetta 2175 logo

█ Price: £19.99 █ Publisher: Islona 0500 131 486 █ Developer: Vortex Design

Take a classic arcade game format. Add AGA graphics. Render all the bad guys and throw in a 3D tunnel sequence between levels and what do you have? Unfortunately nothing as good as Super Stardust...

Some people in this world still have a lot of faith in the Amiga’s abilities and owners generally upgrade their machines in order to take advantage of the latest technology. It therefore follows that there is no real reason why many classic Amiga games can’t be updated to take into account how far the machine has improved in recent years.

Unfortunately, Wendetta is a classic example of how to take a classic, familiar game style and add absolutely nothing to it bar a couple of demo tricks that have been around for years.

First of all, though, let me tell you about the game. In essence it is a horizontally scrolling shoot ‘em up that has you, and a friend should you want to subject them to this, flying lone fighters against attacking waves of enemy ‘things’, shooting everything out of the sky and collecting little golden disks to improve your ships’ capabilities.

Along the way the action occasionally slows down to allow you to take on a really nasty enemy, such as a spinning cluster of boulders that fire at you. Then it’s foot back on the gas to zip off and face more Tie-Fighters, Battlestar Galacticas and nasty looking spheres.

Original is not a word that applies to this game. I don’t know what the graphic artists were thinking of when they were defining the levels, but inspiration obviously was coming from no further away than their video collection. I know it can’t be easy to sit and design dozens of alien craft and meteors to come hurtling from the right of the screen towards you, but surely there are laws against this kind of plagiarism?

So, it is a very simple premise. There have been so many fantastic shoot-em-ups on the Amiga over the years – after all scrolling arcade games is something the Amiga was born to do – that there aren’t really any mistakes left to be made, are there?

It’s such a tried and tested formula that everyone knows what makes a good one and what makes a bad one, so everyone knows what to avoid. Or so you would think. Wendetta has stunning graphics, smooth scrolling, very responsive controls, a wide variety of situations to negotiate, a solid two player mode and speed on its side. So just what’s gone wrong here?
Structure. That’s what’s wrong. The game lacks structure.

One of my favourite shoot ‘em ups of all time was Gremlin’s Disposable Hero. I don’t know how many weeks I lost stuck in front of a CD32 charging through that one, and the reason it was so addictive was that it had a real feeling of progression.

You were on a journey, travelling from one place to another, and there was a real sense of accomplishment about getting there. Something about this game just feels so haphazard that you can’t help but conclude that the programmers had some really nice demo routines they wanted to show off to the world, and couldn’t really be bothere dto complete the game around them.

The enemy attack patterns seem almost random in their flight paths, appearing on one side of the screen and zipping to the other without a thought for you, apart from the occasional bullet that heads off in your general direction.

It’s not a bad game, by any stretch, and I’m sure it would keep even the most casual player entertained for a while, but the lack any real excitement leaves this one being just another pretty Amiga game – good for putting on the demo machine in the window, but lacking any real substance that would give it the entertainment, depth and excitement that any shoot em up should ooze.