I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't this. A recent convert to the Amiga. I knew that great graphics and thudding soundtracks were the order of the day. What I hadn't realised was the sheer nail-biting excitement of a good 16 bit game.
And then along comes a great 16 bit game. Based to some extent, as the coders cheerfully admit, on Crossfire, the game is a furious combination of pinball, air hockey and futuristic gladitorial combat (remember Rollerball?).
The idea is simplicity itself - you must put the puck into your opponent's goal, using a steady or carefully controlled stream of balls, fired from a small pointer on screen. If only it were that simple - your opponent is doing exactly the same, of course, and the screen soon becomes filled with an enormous number of balls.
Then the problems begin! Dotted around the 130 levels (50 for one-player; another 80 for two-player) are pinball-like elements -bumpers, fenders and attractors. Some of these help, some hinder. In addition, special effect squares appear at random which can be good or bad - shield your goal, invert opponent's joystick control, slow your own control, etc. There's also a healthy bonus for collecting the letters RICOCHET.
So far, so neat. What sets the game apart, however, is the sheer speed of the action and the excitement of the gameplay. This can be changed, however, as a comprehensive set of options allow you to fire from different positions, change the balls' speed, alter the number of balls permitted, tweak the auto repeat rate and so on.
Those features suggest a very good playing life for the game and, although there may be too many levels for comfort (passwords allowed). I don't believe you'll tire of its action. What will certainly keep your attention on the screen is the very high quality of the graphics - 32 colours, hardware scrolling and sprites.
In other words, this is one game written for the Amiga's strengths - and it shows. So expect background screens that arc consistently interesting, title screen figures that are impressive and action sprites that are entirely convincing. Sound too is excellent -a steady music score plus encouragement from the crowd keeps the adrenalin pumping.
This is a stunning game - lots of excitement, great graphics, unusual gameplay and so on. What is even more worthy of note is that this is programmer Martin Edmondson's first Amiga game, following two well-received BBC games. The same team are now working on a multi-level, sideways scrolling blaster. I can't wait.
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