Three quarters of the shoot 'em ups that have been released in the last year, owe a great deal of their ideas to Andrew Braybrook's Uridium. So does SideWinder but the programmers have obviously set out to use the Amiga's full potential. Excellent graphics, at last reaching the standards that the Amiga has been promising for years, a catchy theme tune that owes a great deal to Rob Hubbard, and some of the smoothest scrolling I have ever seen (especially when you consider the amount going on on screen).
It is basically a four way scrolling blast (although the horizontal scrolling is limited and really for effect only). As you fly vertically up the screen, you can scroll the scenery about three inches left or right. Progression from wave to wave, however, is by completing a section vertically.
Once loaded, you are given the choice of five different playing levels, ranging from Beginner right through to Master. If, however, you decide to change level, there is no need to stop playing, you simply press F2 (pause) and reselect a level. This is particularly useful if you start on a simple level and begin to feel a little more adventurous. To start with, your fighter is equipped with a twin cannon. Although relatively okay, to kill some of the enemy buildings you must hit them ten times. As you progress through the levels, you can, Nemesis-like, collect more and more powerful weapons, until eventually you can blast almost anything with a single shot. Unfortunately, these power packs only last 15 seconds.
When playing the game, the music no longer plays, and instead you hear some of the most impressive explosions ever. Turning the lights down and plugging the Amiga into a stereo while playing SideWinder is an experienced not to be missed!
If I had to make one criticism, it would be that the game does not have a high score table. But with a two player option, and arcade quality action, I can live without a high score table.
SideWinder is without doubt a bargain. It is better than Xenon - which must be slightly embarrassing for Mastertronic as they released both - and it costs less than half the price. For once I am quite willing to stick my neck out. If you download one game this month, buy this one. Miss this and you should be condemned to a life of playing play-by-mail games during a postal dispute!
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