Deep in an uncharted region of space known as Delta, Earth shipping has been mysteriously disappearing. The alien Hsiffan Khanate is rumoured to be operating in the area, and it's decided to send a lone ship to investigate. It isn't chance that's picked you as the lucky candidate: the best pilot Unit Damocles is the natural choice. Dropped within the area, you quickly confirm the rumours and it's time to charge!
The aim of the game is simple - survive! And with the Khanate fleet hurling its entire might at you this is a tall order. Thank god, the occasional icons appear which increase your ship's firepower, shields and speed (they get used up, so collect replacements regularly). From inky black space through alien backgrounds blast all and sundry to atoms to have any chance to grab the power ups - if you miss even one ship in a formation it could lose you a life: if you run into a block without an icon in residence, it's massive headache time.
Delta Charge! is a straightforward shoot-'em-up with no frills - but very tough indeed. Your ship may seem sluggish to start with, but survive the few seconds to kill enough aliens to pick up extra speed icons and you soon gain agility. Scrooling is smooth and the graphics stark but effective.
While nothing really new, Delta Charge! is a refreshing return to mindless blasting which should keep shoot-'em-up freaks glued for quite a while.
MARK ... 80%
'Delta Charge! is a good basic shoot 'em up. You know the kind, shoot the oncoming aliens, dodge the meteor shower, collect the extra weapons, Your ship seems frustratingly slow when you start off, but you soon get faster when you collect extra power. One niggle: the programmers have included a smiling starry background which can disconcertingly look like the aliens' shots. I didn't survive very long after this, but then there are better shoot-'em-up freaks out there than me!'
NICK ... 65%
Look here, I'm going to tell you about a really exciting game. You pilot a spaniking little space fighter on a mission to protect Terra (that's Earth to us, Spec-chums) from oodles and oodles of nasty aliens. Blimey! Sounds thrilling, eh? And it is! Guess what it's called? Yes... R-Type! (Ho ho.)
Now let me tell you about this other game. You pilot a spanking little space fighter against oodles and oodles of different aliens (in this case the rather oddly-named Hsiffian Khanates!). Sounds equally thrilling, doesn't it? Well, I'm afraid it's not. It's actually a little bit useless. I mean, let's be frank, you can jolly well have as many weird 'alien names' as you like, but if at the end of the day you can't disguise the fact that the aliens they refer to are just squidgie little white circular thingies then you 'ain't got diddly squat'.
And such is the stuff of which Thalamus newie Delta Charge! is made. It's a horizontally-scrolling shoot-'em-up in glorious monocolour which lets you join the Damocles squadron (Damocles? Now that'd be a great game, ho ho!) in your battle against the 'Hsiffies', as I like to call the,. A particularly thrilling battle, this one, because in it you not only encounter packets of these Polo mint lookalikes, you also come across hosts of flying crates (you'll be able to recognise these bacause they're the squidgie white little square-shaped thingies). Shoot lots of bad guys and you'll earn enough credits to turn a couple of these crates into extra weapons (otherwise they're just spaceship-smashing obstacles for you to avoid!). Sounds spiffing so far, doesn't it? (I don't think.)
So what else is there? Well, there are seven different power-ups to collect for a start, including the usual shield, multiple fire and extra ammo icons, and not forgetting of course the, er, 'fish weapons from the Planet slot' (it sez here!) You can also get extra speed power-ups (which, considering the rate at which you spaceship moves, will probably prove a huge asset). And, um, that's about it. I can't really think of anything else to write about this game actually. (How about the fact that Thalamus didn't commission this Speccy version of its old C64 game Delta at all, but has just published something an independent programmer called Jason McGann came up with off his own bat? Ed) Oh, well yes, there is that.
Look, maybe I'm just getting a bit grouchy in my old age. Perhaps some people could squeeze some fun out of Delta Charge! and the best of luck to them. But can this game really be from the same people who brought us Sanxion? (I mean, okay, Sanxion wasn't graphically brilliant either, but it did well in the gameplay stakes, something conspicuously absent in Delta Charge!). The way I see it, there are a hundred and one shoot-'em-ups out there that are miles better than this one, and seeing this released really is a significant step backwards for Speccy technology. Come back DNA Warrior, all is forgiven! (Well, almost all.)
Now if you don't mind I'd rather talk about some more interesting things called 'Delta'. Hmmmm, let me see. Tonight on Sky Movies (as I write this back towards the end of April) we've got that crap film Delta Force with a very old Lee Marvin as an American command rescuing hostages from a hijacked plane in Beiruit (sadly the reverse of real life events, fact fans). Um, Then there's my full-sized pinball machine which I've got in my bedroom, the Bally 'Delta Queen'. Oh, and there's the Mississippi river delta down New Orleans way, home of crawfish gumbo and serious boogie-woogie music, and... (That's enough more interesting things called 'Delta'. Ed)
Aeeeeiliiieee! No more! Why do people send games like this to try both the paying public and innocent reviewers? What sort of warped games designer thinks it would be "fun" to make a game so bum burstingly impossible and engineered to infuriate?
Before you can even get into any of the (mediocre) action, you must battle through an utterly maddening couple of waves. Why are these stages ,so rubbish? Because your bloody ship has got about as much oomph as a solar powered torch, and as much firepower as something that can only fire one shot at a time.
The only course of action is to collect as many power-ups as you can. Since none are available until you've shot entire waves of alien filth (and even if you work over the odds and entitle yourself to a number of power ups, YOU CAN ONLY COLLECT ONE) the initial stages of the game will inevitably turn you into a rabid lunatic, capable only of shouting "Stupid! Stupid!".
Even the sodding icons kill you if you're not careful. Unless you waste entire waves of aliens (far from easy since it takes a good three seconds to get from the top to the bottom of the screen) the icons remain as deadly blocks, floating in space, sometimes utterly unavoidable.
If you're very patient indeed, you may find some enjoyment in Delta. Otherwise, it'll just give you a headache.
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
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