NOW this is what I have been waiting for. Chuck away the instructions, we won't need them. Just pop the disc in the drive and flex those wrist muscles.
A few presses of the Fire button and already the game has started. No tedious little animations or jingles here, this is serious arcade gaming. A conversion of a Sega coin-op no less, and for once the arcade feel has been carried through to the home computer.
Ah, the joys of hardware scrolling. It's been a while since there has been a serious attempt to produce a vertical scrolling road game.
This one is just the way I like them - swing a leg over your motorbike and with a squeal of Dunlops you're off, leaving only a tread mark on the gunmetal road.
Sneak up behind a few cars and open up with the cannons, riding through the explosions in search of a few more to take out. Gangs of dispatch riders can be bumped off the road, but pay special attention for the Sunday drivers doing 20 in their red Ladas.
Extra weapons are supplied by a small truck which allows you to ride up inside while the pit crew fit the extra cannons front and rear, guided missiles and a neat line in all-over body shields. The missiles are especially useful for taking out the helicopters which buzz around dropping the occasional bomb.
Your reward for destroying all the excess traffic is to have your bike upgraded to a car. The obvious insult of having your lovely bike replaced by a cage on wheels is quickly remedied by a press on the spacebar.
Just as in real life, riding a bike has many benefits over the car, although the more cautious and uncool among you may wish to stick with four wheels and the resulting loss of manoeuverability and acceleration.
The helicopter pilot is obviously in the British Motorcycle Association because he only attacks you when you are driving the car.
Once various little floating letters have been collected, the whole game changes. Now you're flying a jetcar over enemy territory, with cannons and bombsights to match.
The landscape scrolls smoothly underneath, with little gun emplacements and depots to bomb. Airborne mines and fighters attack, but your pitcrew has followed you into the skys flying a large Heli-ship for those little cosmetic changes...
Finally you cruise over a large software house, err, ocean, where the mission objective may be accomplished by destroying three U-boats which rise and fall like Amstrad's profits.
So ends the first level. With four more to go you soon wish for a Continue option. But since there isn't one, you make dam sure that every life counts. Each mission features extra baddies, so there is always something new to look forward to killing.
The Pause button is essential for background tasks such as eating, visiting the bathroom and drinking coffee, while the President gives you yet another death-defying mission to undertake. (Where is Dan Quail?)
Action Fighter manages to cram every conceivable scenario from every vertical scroller ever written into one jam-packed game.
With five multi-stage missions, it will take a long time for your wrist to recover from this one. It may look five years out of date, but it's true arcade action.
Everyone needs at least one shoot-'em-up in their software collection not written by the BitMap Brothers - make sure it's Action Fighter.
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