SDI, or the Strategic Defence Initiative, to give it its full title, was set up by Ronny Raygun to make sure that the Russkies couldn't attack the good old US of A from space. Now you play the controller of a satellite, armed to the teeth and ready to defend your country.
The game features two distinct phases: offensive and defensive. You start in offensive mode and move both your satellite and its laser beam around the screen in an attempt to destroy the enemy satellites, missiles and weapon pods. At the end of a level the amount of kills are totted up and if you score a perfect 100% across the board you're awarded a 20,000 point bonus and a dancing duck (I kid you not). If you miss any attackers, though, you move into defensive mode and (surprise, surprise) defend your homeland.
Graphically SDI is good, the nicely drawn monochrome sprites zip around the screen and you need a keen eye to shoot them. But sadly the gameplay isn't quite up to scratch. Initially fun to play, SDI soon slides down into the dumper because of its repetitive nature.
RONNIE REAGAN PLAYS MISSILE COMMAND
Not everyone loves Gorby, the hip Russian president. Who will the software houses use as enemies if he keeps disarming? Well, for the moment Activision are happy living in simultaneously both the past, with evil Ruskies, and the future with the fantastic Star Wars, or SDI programme - here represented by just one laser satellite.
You aim its laser by moving the cursor around the screen, hold down fire and you move the satellite too. While lasering your way through the oncoming missiles and space fighters you should watch out for bonus pods, offering extra speed, multiple cursors and extra firepower.
Between stages the player is presented with a statistical representation of their performance, a perfect 100% kill on all three types of craft (missiles, satellites and fighters) earns the player an initial bonus of 20000 points (this rises by 10000 points per round), and a nifty little dance routine from a troupe of ducks (I kid you not). If the required number of kills is not filled, the player is forced to defend him/herself from waves of marauding nasties on the similar defence screen. Again a points bonus is awarded for the percentage of hits scored, with 2000 points being earned for 100% damage. After this it's back to the offensive screen and the next barrage of Armageddon.
SDI strongly reminds me of Missile Command, and once the slightly quirky control method is mastered, zipping around the screen, shooting the missiles becomes very zzzz inducing. Graphically the game is fairly good, with some nice sprites over the boring star fields. Buy only if you're one of those people forever moaning 'they don't make games like they used to'.
MARK ... 47%
Joysticks: Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: good spaceship sprites, but only two dull backdrops
Sound: mostly laser-firing effects
Options: two control methods
'Gameplay is fast and furious, you have to control both the satellite and the laser cursor with the same joystick which can lead to some very frustrating moments, luckily there are two control methods, you just have to find the one that suits you best. All the sprites are detailed and the parallax stars in the background produce a good 3-D effect. Sadly sound effects are only average, with pathetic tunes, but SDI is still a great game for joystick-wrestlers.'
NICK ... 71%
SDI puts you in control of a satellite, central point of the Strategic Defence Initiative (Wow, this guy really knows his abbreviations - a wealth of suitably impressed readers) as it orbits the Earth and tries to destroy the squillions of nuclear warheads heading America's way.
Luckily, the satellite is fairly manoeuvrable and can zip about the screen pretty sharpish. Missiles, fighters and other killer satellites slide in from all angles. They either attack you, shoot you, or more likely just get in the way. A cursor follows you around and can be trained on any offending space craft to reduce it to ion particles - or whatever laser beams reduce things to.
But all these things are just decoys and distractions to lure you away from the real targets - the nuclear warheads. These glide through the screen silently and insidiously and must be vapourised before you can breathe with relief. If one of them manages to slip past you, then you'll have to play a defensive section and protect the Earth from a shower of splintering warheads.
The graphics are stylish and detailed, and animate very well (rotating, spinning, and gyrating) but they're arthritic when it comes to moving. They jerk across the screen as if pain. Only the warheads move smoothly, but that's because they're so silent and insidious.
Although the satellite responds quickly to your wishes, the switchable cursor moving is very difficult to master and so frustrating.
All this is very straightforward. A simple rejuvenation of the Missile Command game with a few extra pixels added for old times sake. The lure of extra levels, foes and difficulty creates an incentive for a couple of games, but it lacks that magical programming sparkle to make the attraction last any longer.
|Value For Money||6/10|
SDI, eh? Could it be an excuse for a full-blast strategy game crammed full with all sots of laser-spitting satellites and nuclear retaliation scenarios? Thankfully no, since I'm happy to admit that I'm as terminally useless at strategy games as the next man (the next man being Andy - he's pretty crap as well). So discovering that SDI is nothing more than a mere shoot-'em-up seems to me a very good reason for wild rejoicing in the streets. In truth, it's nothing more than a rewrite of that old timer Missile Command. You manoeuvre a small satellite about taking out baddies and, more importantly, nuclear warheads which just happen to float past, with a handy cursor controlled laser. Missing one of these warheads results in another bit to the game which involves protecting earth from a shower of splintering warheads. Gasp as your satellite manoeuvers deftly round the screen! Scream with tension as you switch to control of the cursor and blast away at an incoming ICBM! Collapse sobbing over the keyboard as your satellite gets hit by an unnoticed bullet at the same time... well, that's life.
It's sounds like fun, and it is full of nice touches, but the only real snag is that it's all a bit simple, monotonous, and dated, even though it's only two years old. Perhaps I'm having a bad month or something, but although this was fun for a while, I'm afraid that even if it asks nicely, I can't give it any more than 64'.
If you're half as confused as I am, then I'm twice as confused as you. You might have seen ads for a game called SDI, published by Mirrorsoft, one of the Cinemaware range. But this ISNT IT! This is a completely and utterly different game, converted from a Sega coin-op.
What does SDI stand for? If you read the papers you'll know that it stands for Strategic Defence Initiative. So what the pooh does that mean? It's the American plan to put laser-armed satellites in orbit to shoot down incoming nuclear missiles.
At first sight, you might think that SDI is simply an updated version of the classic Missile Command. At second sight, you might think the same thing. You control a spinning laser-armed satellite which moves freely through the majesty of the cosmos. When you press the fire button, a blistering beam of laser energy (in other words a dotted line) shoots out from your laser spondules. Joystick: control then switches to the laser target cursor, and your satellite stands still in space as the laser roves in search of targets.
The targets approach you from all directions; enemy missiles, space fighters, satellites and interceptors in the first stages, and later on whirling saucers, clouds of ionised gas and pods. There are some tremendous explosions as you hit targets, and decent sound effects as they disintegrate. A damage bar at the bottom of the screen shows how close you are to destruction.
After the initial offensive phase, you rendesvouz with a passing space shuttle and move on to the defensive phase. Here, you hover over your city, trying to shoot down any enemy missiles and landers which have got past you in the in the offensive phase.
Between phases there's a status report which shows the percentage of targets you've knocked out. If you've achieved a perfect round, you get a points bonus and a DANCING PENGUIN!!! (Well, that's what it looks like.)
To make things more interesting, some of the satellites eject pods which, when shot and picked up. give you increased speed, multiple cursors and bigger explosions; all of which you'll definitely need on the later levels, when masses of enemies surround you and vie for the honour of smashing you to bits.
As a bonus you have a choice of several control methods; one player with a moving cursor, one player with a fixed cursor (so that moving the satellite changes your aim), or two players, one controlling the satellite and the other guiding the cursor.
Apart from the hideous music and monotonous blue-on-blue-on black colour scheme. SDI is a little gem. It may not feature state-of-the-art 3D animated graphics, icon controls or all the other dooflippery, but it's a mega blast and you can't ask better than that, can you punters?
Author: Source Software
Reviewer: Tony Dillon
With the never ending controversy surrounding Ronald Reagan's Star Wars program it seems that the bunglers in the not-so-white White House are a long way away from realising the Great Wrinkly One's dream of stratospheric domination. Yet with SDI you, the wargaming public, may never get any closer.
Controlling a deadly satellite orbiting the earth from 100 miles you are the sole protector of the planet. Using a cross-hair cursor the satellite warrior must direct the satellite's defence system towards targets using the joystick. A cosmic prod on the fire button emits an awesome trail of laser death that will hopefully save the Earth and your Aunty Gladys who lives in Wopping.
Now we're talking. Zipping all over the screen dodging various debris, satellite parts, fighters, huge missiles and meteors at the same time as spewing huge pulses of electro-plasma from a little cross on the end of an umbilical cord. I was really getting into this!
Controls are very easy to get to grips with and provides the would-be star hero two options. Whilst pressing the fire button the satellite will either stay still as the cursor moves about it or it can move with the sight at the same time. An additional player can play simultaneously either controlling the macho moon via the keyboard or taking the role of destructor and firing with the joystick.
Graphics are a bit lacking in all departments, but what's there is appealing enough, where as the sound that accompanies each explosion grinds menacingly and fuels your enthusiasm for more mayhem. Extra cross-hairs can be obtained by grabbing special pods and at the end of each round your performance is shown by a statistical bar chart. Nice.
Not a bad little game and what's there is very enjoyable. I wouldn't fancy it's chances with a die hard shoot 'em up fan though, it's just a tad too easy. If your looking for original game play something like St Dragon meets Missile Command then check this out.
Label: Hit Squad
Price: £2.99 Tape, n/a Disk
Reviewer: Steve Keen
The end of the world is nigh! Well, it is unless you and your laser-armed SDI satellite can annihilate all of the enemy missiles streaking towards friendly territory. SDI is a conversion of a startlingly boring Sega coin-op, and this game simply fails to strike home in the entertainment stakes. I can't really recommend this much at all I'm afraid.
Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £9.99
Amstrad CPC Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99
Commodore 64/128 Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99
Sega's middling coin-op may have already come across relatively intact on the ST but on the Z80 machines the heart of the game is taken out entirely with no background graphics to speak of in the offensive stages and no dual-player option (two players take part alternately). The Amstrad game suffers very badly with less colour than the Spectrum version.
The Commodore version fares a lot better, with neat backdrops helping to boost gameplay. Without the coin-op's gloss the similarity of each level brings very repetitive play with it, especially on the Amstrad and Spectrum.
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