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Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K

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Phil South
Chris Bourne

I didn't think there were many variations left in the old 'little man walking along on planet surface in a space suit' games. But after Dan Dare, Freddy Hardest, Exolon and now Dark Fusion, it's certain that this type of game is here to stay.

Although the actual idea behind Dark Fusion isn't that original, the presentation of the thing is brilliant. It has the most effective soundtrack I've ever heard on a Spectrum, which fairly slaps into your ears, ending with synthesised notes and beating drums. Fab! if it was down to the musical score it would have rated as a megagame, but unfortunately the rest of the game isn't quite up to scratch.

'Cos the thing about Dark Fusion is that each level is a pastiche of another game.

The first level looks like Exolon with a little man running along in a spacesuit with a gun and a jet pack, the second level looks like Scramble or R- Type as you fly down through a cave infested by gribbly monsters, and finally there's the monster at the end of the level with his blinking orifices and squirming caterpillars. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing at all wrong with the execution of this program, as it's packaging and presentation are first class, the sound perfect, and the graphics great. But what happened to the fund of new ideas in software design?

In Dark Fusion you begin by running, as I said, along an alien landscape in a spacesuit. Aliens circle and drop over your head and you have to shoot them, for which you get points and new weapons. Then you take off in a small ship, this time shooting little spaceships which bear a striking resemblance to the Millenium Falcon from Star Wars, and pick up points and new weapons. Then you're up against the big monster who you must destroy - pretty tricky actually.

Having said Dark Fusion is unoriginal, it would be unfair not to say that it actually plays very well, and in the hardness stakes is quite hard indeed (Fnar!). But somehow I found it curiously unsatisfying.

Good looking and good sounding game, fast and hard, but oddly unsatisfying to play. File under 'Good' but not 'Great'.