This is not going to be a very pleasant job. Disease-infested spaceships are returning to Earth from the once healthy colony on Jupiter's moon, lo. They must not be allowed to reach their destination and spread their sickness.
In Thunderceptor, one of two games on this tape from US Gold's recently-launched label GO!, you command one of the craft in a fleet sent to destroy the colonists. Your multidirectional spacefighter carries both Phaser and Super Phaser systems - the latter effective against large spacecraft - and a defensive shield. All these are served by a single, limited power supply, and the energy complement of each can be altered.
On encountering the 'lo-fleet', you are met by waves of attack craft varying in their manoeuvrability and fire power. At some stage large mother ships and fighters appear, and these must be hit many times with Phaser power, sometimes with unerring accuracy, before they succumb. Points are awarded for every craft destroyed.
Meteor storms, satellites and wrecks also add spice to this space battle. After completing the first level, you can prowess to the next of the five, receiving medals and promotion as you go.
Flying by the seat of your pants on a magic carpet in Old Baghdad while working for the military is the name of the game in The Fast And The Furious, on the other side of the tape.
Your first mission is to deliver important papers to a base on the other side of the desert - but there's more to this silicon wasteland than sand, sand, more sand and cacti.
Though the desert is larger than the beach at Weston-super-Mare at low tide, the villains and brigands who live there seem to have no difficulty in finding you. Riding their shagpiles and Axminsters they come at you, and any contact with them, or with the fireballs that they unleash, loses you stamina.
You can return their fire - but be warned; you're not facing just a cutthroat band out to do you down, but also centipedes, dragons, bats and scorpions, any of which can inflict untold damage on even the hardiest carpeteer.
You can collect useful items by flying your carpet over them, in a sort of reverse hoovering marked by icon displays.
The objects collected, which include dollars. pounds, oil, hearts, flags, guns and musical notes, can be used in dealings with the villain's leader - he can be found at the end of each desert section. You can placate him by giving him the correct icons, and the result is a rise in your stamina level.
Once your dealings with the despicable rogue are finished, leap once more onto your carpet to do battle on three more levels with more dragons, more no goods and more danger.
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: very fast and quite colourful
Sound: not an awful lot apart from a few bells and whistles
'The Ernieware programmers have their act together when it comes to designing pretty graphics, but their problem is knowing what to do with them: Thunderceptor is awfully boring and monotonous. Each section contains the same old ships over and over again in slightly different combinations. However, the individual graphics are exceptionally well-drawn and used with animation to match. The Fast And The Furious is WEIRD; I've seen nothing like it in a long time. The game may basically be your old favourite shoot-'em-up, but the objects used are very strange; besides the usual bats and spiders there are also flying-carpet flights. As with Thunderceptor, the basic game construction is very simple and thus there's endless repetition.' Thunderceptor … 51%
The Fast And The Furious … 68%
'Thunderceptor has all the feel of a well-programmed game and quite a lot of playability - but it doesn't last. Despite its fast gameplay and large graphics, it's simply not addictive. And a more appropriate title for the other game on this tape would be The Fast And The Furious But A Bit Unaddictive! Again, it's very playable for a few minutes, but once you've adjusted to the speed (which certainly makes the game more interesting) and you know the first dozen attack waves, there's very little compulsion to carry on.'
Thunderceptor … 58%
The Fast And The Furious … 52%
'GO! has really chosen the right name for The Fast And The Furious - the gameplay is so fast you don't know what you're doing half the time! The enemies really speed along and firing at them as they go by can be a problem. Apart from the sickly colour, the graphics are well-defined, with some good animation here and there. But the spot FX aren't very good and at the start, where you'd expect to find a tune, there are birds singing (goodness knows why!). And though it's quite original, I doubt this game will appeal to the budding arcade player for long. As for Thunderceptor, I've really had enough of all the recent Zynaps clones. Xecutor (reviewed last Issue) was just Zynaps turned through 90 degrees, and Thunderceptor is simply Zynaps sped up with the backgrounds taken away. But the game is quite decent and the graphics are adequately detailed. Both the screen layout and the way the enemies move are similar to The Fast And The Furious; in fact you might think it's just the graphics that have been changed.'
Thunderceptor … 82%
The Fast And The Furious … 69%
Thunderceptor sounds a pretty good title for a blast 'em up game, even if it is written by a company called Ernieware. Thinks: is this a wise name for a software house? But who cares whet it's called as long as it can produce stuff like this?
The year is 2021 with 12 milliard people now living on Earth, and I bet half of them own a Spectrum Plus-37. There's trouble at t'moon, though. On Jupiter's moon Io an unknown bacterium disease is playing havoc. 7,000 people are dead and the aspirins have run out. The survivors are heading for Earth bringing the disease with them, and your mission is to see to it that they don't get here.
In this horizontal-scroller, your ship is controlled by keyboard, Cursor Kempston, Protek, AGF or Interface II joysticks. There's a touch of Uridium about the start, where the enemy ships come in from the right-hand edge of the screen and you cling to the left for dear life, dodging around and spitting bullets. After the first batch of ships there's a meteor shower, which conveniently stays in the top half of the screen, then there's a large-scale ship which stops in centre-screen firing missiles and just daring you to defeat it. To do this you not only have to dodge and shoot the missiles, later waves of which home in on you, but also get close enough in to shoot the larger craft on the nose and slowly disintegrate it. For me it was definitely a case of retiring due to fire-button finger.
The features are what make this game, apart from the frantic action and impressive sprite and colour handling. You've got six lives and five levels to get through with medals awarded as you rise through the six ranks from Second-Lieutenant to Colonel. There's not only a score and high-score record, but a total score record as well so you can keep a note of every point ever scored in every game you've played The SAVE-LOAD game options also allow you to check out the types of enemy craft and numbers you've wiped out, check your mission status and allocate your resources between Shield, Normal Faser and Super Faser. Super Faser is fast fire and works against the larger ships, and the program switches you from Super to Normal as it's needed.
With pretty nifty spitting sound effects too, what more could you ask? According to the notes this is "the most sensational and sophisticated science-fiction arcade game ever made for the ZXSpectrum." My own view, not a bad little effort, actually chaps.
|Value For Money||8/10|
Well this is a bit of a bolt from the blue. And has Ernieware, the Dutch company behind Thunderceptor and a couple of forthcoming Go! releases, anything to offer? You bet your giveaway plastic spaceman it does!
Thunderceptor is basically a highly straightforward shoot'em-up, although there are elements of low-key strategy. Nothing to put off dedicated blasters though.
It's in fact very, very similar to Firebird's Side Wize (see SU 66), although the sprites are quicker and the movement patterns more predictable.
Once the game has finished its rather temperamental Load, a fairly serious-looking menu screen will appear. Don't be put off. It's all very simple. Just flip through your Service Record - where information on your past performance and any medals you've won can be found - and choose how to arm your ship. You only get a set amount of energy and you choose how you distribute it - shields, your normal phaser or your super-fast phaser.
You get the general idea. Anyway, once you've got through all of this and into the gameplay, you realise what a nice piece of programming Thunderceptor is. Your ship (a three-bowed effort) moves across the screen with incredible speed. All you have to do is slightly touch the joystick, and you'll go zooming off ail over the place.
All the time, as you're heading across the screen, little stars scroll from the right to the left with varied speed, giving a reasonable impression of depth. Every time you alter your vertical position, your craft pleasingly rolls one way or the other before settling down once your course has stabilised.
Not that there's much time to dither around admiring the graphics. Enemy ships appear right from the word go. No easily wasted space-divs these. They spin and manoeuvre just as swiftly as you, and aren't averse to slinging a few laser bolts in your direction.
After despatching a wave or so of these guys (they come at you in pairs) you'll find yourself battling your way through a storm of pink fluffy things. Meteorites, apparently. Shortly you'll come up against one of the larger ships. These have fleets of smaller fighters flying on convoy to protect them. You'll have to take out the fighters and go to super-phaser mode to pick off the big ships.
At the end of each level, you return to the main menu and select from the options of inspecting your record, rearming your ship or embarking on the next stage. At this point, you can also save your ranking.
Thunderceptor, underneath all the trappings, is really just a high quality space-blast. There's obviously nothing wrong with this, although you should be aware of the fact in if it's an original idea you're in search of, Thunderceptor won't provide it.
If you're happy to go for a slick shoot-out with the fastest sprites this side of Clogaville, it's a damned sight better than a poke in the eye with a nail.
Reviewer: Tamara Howard
Thunderceptor is an interesting attempt to turn the shoot-'em-up into a sort of arcade adventure. Thunderceptor, developed by Ernieware in the Netherlands, features icon driven menus and a load/save feature. Ever seen that on a zap-to-kill game before? No, neither have we. And it almost works - if only the shoot-'em-up part had been just a smidgen faster.
Load in the game and you see a series of icons which allow you to load/save your hi-score and position in the game, check out your hi-score and any medals you may have won, look at the configuration of the enemy fleet and the number of these craft you have knocked out of the sky and finally re-arm your ship between levels.
All nice touches which make Thunderceptor stand above the normal shoot 'em up in terms of presentation. Graphically, the shoot 'em part is pretty good. Big ships, nice animation - but it lacks the sort of urgency that a classic zapper needs to keep you coming back for more.
It's a scrolling shoot 'em up in the Defender/Salamander style - but falls short of the classiness of those two games.
The action seems a mite slow - although it is difficult to zap the approaching enemy craft, which come in many and varied forms. Shame all the neat icon driven additions weren't coupled with a hotter game.
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