Ever been stuck in a traffic jam and wished you could blast everything out of the way? Well, just for your benefit Hewson have released Marauder featuring a Battlecar armed to the teeth.
It travels through a battlefield full of danger on the planet Mergatron, fighting a multitude of enemies which fire missiles, bombs and Molotov cocktails. The only man capable of controlling this massive Battlecar is the brave Captain C T Cobra. His mission; to recover the stolen jewels of Ozymandias which are buried deep beneath the planet's surface.
The action, viewed from overhead, takes place against a monochromatic, vertically scrolling backdrop. Alien vehicles attack from the ground, ammunition hurtles through the air, missile launchers belch explosive and the occasional aircraft travels across the screen to release a powerful heat seeking missile. In addition to ordinary ammunition, the Battlecar is equipped with a limited number of smart bombs which destroy all enemies on the screen when fired.
To make life in this dangerous environment less hazardous, extra lives and weapons are obtained by shooting beacons which continually change colour. The colour of a particular beacon when shot determines which weapon or ability the Battlecar gains. Certain colours hinder rather than help. They may jam your laser for ten seconds, reverse your controls or deprive you of one of your five lives.
Screen displays show your score as well as the number of lives and smart bombs remaining. Warning of air attacks, and information on extra weapons and lives awarded or lost, is printed out on a status strip when appropriate.
Once the Battlecar has reached the end of a level, he must destroy a plethora of missile-firing aliens to gain access to the next stage. If Captain Cobra manages to get through all the levels, the stolen jewels are safe, and the capable Captain gains an even greater hero's reputation than he had before.
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: mostly monochromatic with the odd splash of colour and detailed sprites
Sound: limited to atmospheric spot effects on the 48K. Dramatic ingame tune by Dave Rodgers on the 128K
Options: definable keys. Sound effects on/off on the 128K version
'Another great shoot-'em-up from Hewson hits the streets - and with just as much force as Exolon and Cybernoid. Marauder lives up to the usual Hewson standard of perfection with excellent sound and good quality graphics. The landscapes of the different levels scroll smoothly as you try to blast everything in sight. But there's much more to Marauder than just shooting: some of the targets fire homing missiles that chase you wherever you go and are very hard to shake off. There are air attacks and if you shoot the wrong beacon, your gun can get jammed or the controls reverse - right in the middle of all the action. To top all that, each level is just as detailed and challenging as the last; they progress in difficulty to the point at which they become almost impossible (like Level 3!). Marauder is yet another excellent game from Hewson.'
NICK ... 90%
'Marauder is a glowing example of the high quality we've come to expect from Hewson. The Battlecar itself is quite simply animated and looks more like a spaceship than a car. Though mostly monochromatic, the graphics are well shaded and fairly detailed. There is plenty of sound on the 128K with various tunes on the front end and one during the game which can be swapped for spot effects if it gets irritating. The gameplay is of course very simple; just blast everything in sight! The only exception is the shooting of the coloured beacons where you need to be careful not to lose a life, or inadvertently reverse the car's controls (almost as bad!). My only gripe is that the shields sometimes fail to work when they are meant to be on. Despite this, however, the game is very playable and keeps you coming back for more. An excellent and entertaining blast-'em-up.'
PHIL ... 87%
'Hot on the trail of the brilliant Cybernoid, comes another great game. The detailed Marauder Battlecar trundles around a carefully shaded and very dangerous background. Mobile meanies whizz around the screen in a very menacing fashion, shooting at anything that moves. (The stationary obstacles aren't exactly passive either as they lob homing missiles and explosives through the air.) The action is fast and furious: dare to take your trigger finger away from the fire button for a moment, and another life is lost. With such hazardous and compelling action I couldn't help enjoying Marauder - right from the very start. Well done, Hewson - you're on to another winner!'
MARK ... 90%
In aeons past, when you could go to watch Bolton Wanderers in Division One, get a round in and still have change from a thruppeny bit, a cruel and despotic civilisation stole the Jewels of Ozymandius. They then proceeded to bury them deep beneath the multiple defences of the planet Mergatron.
Anyway, time passed, and to cut a long story short, the price of a pint went up. Bolton Wanderers got relegated, and the cruel and despotic civilisation went the same way as most others - to pot - and left the Jewels just waiting for a brave but stupid hero to try and get them. Stupid? Well you gotta be a spanner short of a full tool kit if you want to try to get past Mergatrons automatic defence mechanisms.
For a start there's the Atomic Disruptors and Molotov Cocktails. These are fixed base gun turrets which start firing bullets with a deadly accuracy as soon as you appear. Then there's the missile turrets, which launch deadly homing missiles at you, as well as moving tanks, which fire bullets. Staying still for too long is ill advised. Why? 'Cos an aeroplane will drop a bouncing bomb on you! And should you manage to reach the end of a level you will encounter legions of meanies just waiting to redistribute your corpuscules in a random manner. That's the bad news, what about the good?
Well, you do have five smart bombs at the beginning, which will clear the screen of all but the end-of-level meanies. And glowing defence beacons are encountered along the way, which, depending on their colour, aid or hinder your advance when shot. Red beacons deliver an extra smart bomb while purple loses a life and so on. An interesting development occurs when blue beacons are destroyed - the controls are reversed, meaning a forward push on the joystick sends you backwards (confused? You be!).
Enough of the game, I hear you cry, how does it play? As good as Wimbledon in a FA Cup Final, that's how. The graphics are really good and varied on the three levels which I managed to see. Level one is on a sort of platform, two is the planet surface, and three, looks like a roadway.
Colour is also used very effectively considering the Spectrum's limitations. There is a great amount of detail, and the thoughtfully used animation all add to the atmosphere of the game. Sound is the usual Splodgy noises, but this goes largely un-noticed as you get progressively sweatier palms -being a hero sure takes it out of you. The ship is very responsive and manoeuvrable, although one tiny niggle is that the missiles or bullets would destroy the ship before contact occasionally.
Although what is here is excellently done, there is nothing new and it is this which stops Marauder hitting the absolute top spot as far as Spectrum gaming is concerned. There is however enough to keep the average arcade freak happy for a good while.
|Value For Money||7/10|
"Eat photon death you filthy alien sleazoid scumbag pig dog vermin! Ha ha ha hahahaha! Pow pow zap boom zap bam boom!" It's only very, very rarely that a game comes along that provokes such a tender, touching emotional response in an SU reviewer. We're usually a jaundiced, tricky to impress bunch of degenerates. Marauder however, managed to get even Tony Dillon to comment "It's wicked," (charming lad)
Anyone who has been made to feel horribly humble and inferior after playing Xenon on a mate's ST will have their faith restored in Speccy games. This is similar - it's ultra-smooth, super-fast and unbelievably difficult.
The venue this time is Mergatron, a remarkably heavily defended planet which is where a bad ole alien 'civilisation' has hidden some precious jewels. You, Captain C T Cobra (spewey ptooey) have got to get in there and shake the place up a bit and reclaim the jewels.
Marauder is a scrolling top-bottom shoot-out of fantastic difficulty and playability. Any of you who've seen Hewson's recent efforts like Exolon and Cybernoid will know exactly what to expect - a seemingly insurmountable task at first sight that lures you back again and again until you gradually get the hang of it (if only to see those fantastic graphics one more time).
The graphics really are impressive. Though there is a certain two-colouredness about it in places, there are plenty of multi-coloured touches here and there, to lift it out of the ordinary. Different levels really are different, not just the same again with different blobs. You control a battle tank kind of thing which can move left, right and - to a certain degree down the screen as well as up. You've got an unlimited number of bullets and a finite supply of smart bombs which will wipe out anything of an unfriendly nature on the screen.
For the most part, the game involves rushing around and shooting out gun implacements left, right and centre. Some of these are tougher to hit than others. While most have feeble bullets that travel in straight lines, some have totally appalling homing missiles which will dog you and fly about and panic you into crashing into something.
If everything seems to be getting a little too much to bear, you can always try and take out one of the bonus pods which crop up every now and again. By shooting the flashing lights when they're on a specific colour you'll be awarded some for of bonus (see box).
The further you get into each level the tougher everything gets. Bullets and missiles zing around you. Tanks emerge from nowhere and bombard you. Air attacks are launched, bombers swoop across the screen, dropping shrapnel missiles all over the shop. You've got to dodge these as best you can and avoid obstacles while everything else is happening.
Once you reach the end of a level, you'll have to combat a whole bunch of bad guys all in a giant swarming mass. They're largely faster than you, and as you can only go a certain way up the screen (cos it's the end of the level) it's essential that you pick off as many as possible straight away.
Level two is primarily desert-based, with palm trees and sand dunes forming the battleground. New waves of aliens appear and attack you in different patterns. Again, while neither huge nor coloured, they're fantastically animated. The blinking eyes that drift around are totally spooky and there are revolving things like you used to get in cap-guns which are complete nightmares.
Later levels involve even more mad graphics - harlequinesque checker-board patterns swirl around just to make everything very confusing.
It's shockingly difficult. Even using your limited number of smart bombs only relieves the stress for a moment. if you're not endowed with especially tough nerves, I'd steer clear.
If, on the other hand, you're the toughest starship pilot this side of Wisconsin, get on your killing trousers and get shooting!
Author: Arcanum Software Developments
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
Hewson, £7.99cs, £12.99dk
C64 version reviewed Issue 11 - ACE Rating 791
This version curiously starts on what is the second level of the C64 original. The graphics are well detailed and, although not too colourful, look good. The defences take exactly the same patterns as the C64 but are somewhat easier to get past - you can dodge through zones without destroying things where you couldn't on the 64. The end-of-level sequence has been beefed up and is much tougher.
Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £7.99, Diskette: £12.99
Marauder is yet another vertically scrolling shoot-'em-up full of mindless violence, but it is of the high quality now expected from Hewson. The Battlecar itself is simply animated, although it looks more like a spaceship. The backgrounds are mostly monochromatic but the graphics are well shaded. There is plenty of sound on the 128K version with various tunes at the front end and one during play - this may be swapped for sound effects. The gameplay is simple: blast everything in sight! The only exception is the shooting of the coloured beacons where care is needed not to lose a life or reverse the cars controls. Annoyingly the shields only work intermittently but the game remains playable and addictive. A very good, if not outstanding, blast-'em-up.
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