by Softstorm Developments: Dave Thompson, Jarrod Bentley, Dennis Mulliner, Wally Beben, Rob Hubbard
Thalamus Ltd
Crash Issue 64, May 1989   (1989-04-27)   page(s) 81

A new Cold War has begun, the Americans and Russians are at each other' s throats, and when the USA's 'Star Wars ' x satellites malfunction the world s teeters on the brink of nuclear war. Then there's a crash In the Artic Circle - Is it the Soviet spaceship responsible for the malfunction? Tap NASA scientists are rushed to the crash site. A blizzard is blowing but it doesn't take too long to decide the weird metals, and green, scaley crew aren't Russian. Allen datafiles are swiftly translated.

It turns out the aliens are part of a vast galactic empire which has been watching Earth for centuries. As Mankind has become ever more technologically advanced, the aliens have become increasingly worried. To prevent any challenge to their empire the alien despatched a Culture Technician to manipulate Mankind into a nuclear apocalypse. The 'Star Wars' malfunction was the aliens' latest dirty trick.

Somewhat concerned by this the Americans have urgent talks with the Russians, and together the two superpower set up Project Damocles. Ripping off the alien ship's hi-tech a fleet of Sanxion spaceships were built to protect Earth against the Galactic hordes. Needless to say if the game were genuinely realistic the Sanxion force wouldn't have a chance...

...and they don't. Aliens zoom in at great speed, pump out tons of very fast bullets and often take a lot of hits to destroy. No-one's going to save Earth this time without lots and lots of practice learning the alien attack patterns.

Graphical presentation isn't too impressive to start with, all the action's in monochrome, but the backgrounds are nicely detailed, the ship reacts as speedily as you could want (I wish the same could be said far my hand) and all twelve levels are crammed into a single 48K load. Sound effects are a bit sparse, but the title music is good, with 128K owners having a different version of the program complete with two long, and excellent tunes.

Sanxion's only really novel feature is the overhead scanner, which shows a bigger part of the play area, acting as a warning of attack. Unfortunately it doesn't show whether the aliens are grouped high or low, which is often crucial. All you have to fight back is a single laser cannon, which fires slightly faster if collect a 'P' icon. At the end of each level there's the obligatory super-alien. Kill him with plenty of seconds left on the timer and get lots of bonus points.

This is a very fast and hard shoot-'em-up, which should keep you tearing out your hair for ages.

MARK ... 83%

'Well, this is Thalamus's first release on the Spectrum and it's pretty darn good. All the graphics are well animated and look good despite being monochromatic. That is until you encounter the first wave of aliens! Your first handful of goes won't get you anywhere because the aliens are just thrown at you and come whizzing past without hardly any warning. The only way you can get anywhere is by memorising the alien formations and the directions they come. 128K and 48K versions both have reasonable tunes and for some unknown reason the 48K game has more sound effects than its 128K counterpart. Sanxion may be excruciatingly difficult at first but things soon get better and the addictive qualities vastly improve.'
NICK ... 84%

'The C64 version of Sanxion was an ancient (and excellent) beast, and I've waited long enough for the conversion! Now it's here and every bit as good as I hoped. The only major problem is thee difficulty level, which is a bit high, to say the least! Still, this is only good for the lastability... It's also a pity the background colours don't change but the graphic characters are very well defined, and playability is high. My favourite feature though, is the absolutely superb 128K title tunes. This is a good value shoot-'em-up - buy it!'
MIKE ... 89%

Addictive Qualities84%
Summary: Fast, ferociously difficult and very playable.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 42, June 1989   page(s) 46,47

Aliens - pah! Who do they think they are? Buzzing Earth in their doughnut-shaped ships again. In Sanxion (that's pronounced "Sankshon", if you're wondering - I did) they're not content with freaking out some poor old carrot cruncher who nobody's going to believe in a million years, this time they mean business - Golly!

The little green ETs from far away have been spying on Earth's technology and they're none too pleased with what they see. All this Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue and enough nuclear weaponry to enforce it across the galaxy is a worrying sight for them - they don't want us tearing around the universe spewing genocidal war and Stock, Aitkin and Waterman tunes, do they now?

To stop such an event, a collective of alien planets formed The Empire and sent a powerful Android Culture Technician (ACT) to about with Earth's scientific discoveries and hopefully blow the planet to itsy bisty pieces. Unfortunately for The Empire the ACT crashed on our moon, so alerting Earth's defence corporate, who failed to locate the ACT as it limped back to its base (obviously it was a hard ACT to follow).

To cur the rest of a very very long inlay short. The Empire has mounted a kill or be killed operation on Earth, leaving you and a handful of other fighter pilots to ward off the waves of alien ships currently pouring from the skies.

The screen is split into three sections, the largest being the bottom section which takes up around half of the screen. This is the main playing area which shows a side-on view of the action scrolling from the right hand side. Your ship can move up, down, back and forward to the middle, giving you only just over a quarter of the Spectrum screen to manoeuvre on. The top section is an overhead scanner which shows the view from above your ship (pretty obvious really) - it's fairly useful when playing as it shows approaching waves of aliens well before they arrive on the main screen. The top and bottom sections of the screen are separated by the status bar which contains the usual stuff, lives, score and the like.

Considering there's never more than one wave of alien on screen at once the action's fast and surprisingly tough. If you're not an experienced shoot 'em upper you'll probably find the first level well hard to complete - perseverance is the name of the game though, just like in any other pattern game, play it enough and you'll soon learn to expect where the next wave of death is coming from.

The graphics are well above average but they aren't brilliant. The characters are well drawn and fairly detailed, as are the scrolling backgrounds, but in conjunction it's very difficult to see what's going on, particularly when you're over a complicated bit of background - this leads to a lot of wasted lives and mega frustration. The sound however, is excellent. The title tune on the 48K version puts some 128K music to shame - it's a brilliant rendition of the original C64 (spit spit) music by Rob Hubbard. The 128K version has some neat sound FX too and another great tune, this time it's a slightly lumpy stab at Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet (you know the one "Dumm da dumm da, da-da da-da da-da da-da da-da da-da darr" It got to number 1 in 1863!).

My only real whinge about Sanxion is that the area in which you can move is far too small. This makes it extremely difficult to avoid the nasties and their lasers. Overall Sanxion - the Spectrum remix is slightly annoying but on the whole playable and fairly addictive if you persevere.

Life Expectancy70%
Instant Appeal65%
Summary: Sanxion is slightly annoying but on the whole playable and fairly addictive if you persevere.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 86, May 1989   page(s) 17

Cor, this has been a while coming, hasn't it. I remember a while back when it appeared on the C'mm*d*r* 64. What a game it was. Fast smoothly animated sprites and stacks and stacks of playability. Now, after many promises, Sanxion - The Spectrum Remix has arrived, and by remix, there are a few remixes. A few changes have been made.

The objective: Fly through the eight levels from left to right blasting all the aliens that appear. You have a time limit, but this only affects the size of the bonus, if any. that you get at the end of the level.

The screen is split into three windows. The bottom one, measuring up to just under half the screen. This is the first of many problems. The middle window is the status window that shows the score, bonus, etc. The top window contains the scanner which is a top view of the game and allows you to see aliens before they appear in the main playing area.

Now, I mentioned there was a problem, and I wasn't lying. The graphics are quite large, and so movement is restricted. This is already affecting the gameplay. Now, let's mention the collision detection. I feat that the masking on the sprites may be a little over generous. Bullets have about a six-pixel leaway on either side of the ship, which means that steering your way through anything more than one bullet becomes impossible. Another problem caused by the collision detection comes to light right from wave one. The first wave consist of a string of five aliens that altogether span the entire height of the screen. Obviously one of them has to be shot out so that you can get past, being as they are the same size as you. But no, I was lying, and you all fell for it hook line and sinker. You actually have to shoot out two. See what I mean.

Another thing that's missing is the adjustable speed. On the 64 version. the further right you moved your man on screen, the faster the screen scrolled. It's these little missing details that spoil a really good conversion.

A monochrome screen display and static sprites make it look a very dull game, and sadly I have to admit that the way it looks doesn't really come up to much in my estimation as a Spectrum SEU.

Label: Thalamus
Author: Softstorm Developments
Price: £8.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: None
Reviewer: Tony Dillon

Summary: Average shooty affair. Lacks frills.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

The Games Machine Issue 19, June 1989   page(s) 40

Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £8.99, Diskette: £12.99


Branching out from their Commodore 64 roots, Thalamus have converted their first ever game - an original creation by Stavros Fasoulas. Aliens growing concerned over the technological advances of the human race dabbled with the 'Star Wars' SDI programme in an attempt to start World War III. A careless pilot crashing near the North Pole let slip the plot and gave rise to Operation Sanxion.

Travelling rightward in a laser-equiped ship through scrolling levels, a plan view of the action acts as a simple radar system, giving a little advanced warning of approaching attack waves. Occasionally a 'P' icon can be picked up to gain increased armament - very useful for the end-of-level bombardment of alien craft. This is very useful at any time in the game, in fact, as this is the 'Pretty Bloody Difficult' remix, in our opinion! The C64 original was a tricky shoot-'em-up, but in the Spectrum version resilient aliens speed relentlessly toward your flying pea-shooter and fire with frightening accuracy. And once screen space has been taken up by the radar and status panel, there isn't much room to manoeuvre - lives drop like flies.

A quality shoot-'em-up, but one for the toughened gamesplayer, the very patient or for masochists.

Summary: In the redesign, the Sanxion ship lost its rocking motion, but otherwise the graphics are a competent monochrome translation of their detailed C64 selves. Scrolling is smooth and the 128K music is a fair rendition of Hubbard's acclaimed piece.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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