IN days long past there was a game called Scramble, where the player was cast as pilot of a rocket ship charged with blasting his way through an underground complex. It was the first arcade machine to boast sideways scrolling, but features precious little else. Recently the Scramble theme has been revamped by dedicated systems like Salamander, Nemesis and Vulcan Venture.
And so let Zynaps enter the Amiga software arena. One of the first side-scrolling games to appear in a market already flooded by vertically scrolling ones.
From the start the layout looks very Salamanderish, with the screen rolling past and the first wave of alien life forms squirming on, ready to release plasma bolts of death upon the intruder. That's you.
If the baddies are the first thing you'll notice, the pathetic response speed of the ship will be next. Because if you don't blast the first nasties pronto it's curtains.
Of course the dedicated gamer should have little difficulty despatching the first lot, catching and activating the first energy bonus - a speed-up, which makes he ship several times more responsive. Without this the game is almost impossible, since the enemy's homing plasma bombs are devilishly hard to avoid.
Holding down the fire button while collecting the energy pod activates an item. This unusual method saves the trouble of pressing a key, but it can keep your trigger finger busy when the action starts to hot up - and it does.
By collecting more energy pods along the way the type of weapon changes, going from extra speed and pulse lasers right up to seeker missiles. Mean beasts these, taking out almost everything in sight, and what's more it's possible to have several on the go at once.
As the first level progresses the tunnel starts to narrow significantly, making life very tough going, since bashing into any static object inflicts a nasty case of death by destruction.
Staying with the Salamander mould, at the end of each level - there are 14 all told - is a mother ship. Hideously well armed and well protected it has to be destroyed before progressing further. To add spice, the mother ship gets bigger and meander with each level.
Sadly, Zynaps fits rather uncomfortably into the "what might have been" category. I'm not saying it's a bad game - but much of the original leg work seems to have been carried directly over from the ST version.
It would seem, in fact, that the game was never destined to take advantage of the Amiga's superior sound and graphics. Although the music sounds very Jean Michel Jarre, the game sound is too little simplistic for my liking, with no voice synthesis in sight.
When compared with Anco's blisteringly fast budget title, XR35, it is overpriced.