The same warped mind that had you tearing your hair out over Nebulus has now decided to put your trigger-finger to the test. Programmed by Linel in Switzerland, John Phillips' Eliminator puts you firmly in the driving seat (bucket, crushed velour) of the eponymous craft - a small, heavily armoured hover-vehicle which zooms at constant speed over alien pathways. Each route twists and winds its way through space, over planets and underground - many are set against some very colourful backdrops (lots of colours onscreen à la Nebulus.)
Speeding from one end of the track to the other would be far too easy, so some alien presence has decided to make life a bit more interesting. The route is punctuated by lamps and barriers which are very solid and must be avoided lest you end up with a much shorter Eliminator. There are also flashing beacons which can be blasted out of the way (these too are pretty solid when in an unblasted state), and later on there are strips of liquid along the track into which the Eliminator slowly sinks.
Later on, the courses become even more unfriendly: ramps frequently appear and either launch you over an impassable wall (missing the ramp is obviously a fatal mistake), or catapult the Eliminator onto the ceiling where the journey continues upside-down until another ramp appears, or you get creamed.
In order that you may defend yourself more effectively, the standard single-fire cannon can be supplemented by a variety of more powerful armaments, including dual-fire, side-fire, double-fire and triple-fire cannons, plus bouncing bombs. Running into the small blue pyramids that are dotted along the route installs the next system, and once several systems are active, the required one can be selected by pushing up or pulling back on the joystick. Their use is normally dictated by the situation: side-firing cannons are pretty useless against a destructible wall directly in front of you.
As progress through the levels is made, codewords are given every other level so that the later courses can be attempted without having to plod through the all-too-familiar early ones - which is good, but it starts you off with the naff single-fire cannon; on the later levels, this doesn't offer much protection.
All in all, Eliminator is a pretty good game. The movement of the tracks is really smart: the hills, dips and curves are far smoother and more convincing than any of the road-racing games which have appeared of late, and the update of the sprites is also very smooth and realistic. The gameplay is simple, but don't let that put you off: there's plenty there to keep you occupied and the levels are well graded so that progress is steadily won. It'll keep you going for just one more go -for several more goes!
The 14 levels should take some beating, and although it might not keep you blasting for weeks on end, the immediate action on offer is entertaining and well worth a look.
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