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Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K
Alkatraz Protection System

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Tamara Howard
Chris Bourne

Well this is a bit of a bolt from the blue. And has Ernieware, the Dutch company behind Thunderceptor and a couple of forthcoming Go! releases, anything to offer? You bet your giveaway plastic spaceman it does!

Thunderceptor is basically a highly straightforward shoot'em-up, although there are elements of low-key strategy. Nothing to put off dedicated blasters though.

It's in fact very, very similar to Firebird's Side Wize (see SU 66), although the sprites are quicker and the movement patterns more predictable.

Once the game has finished its rather temperamental Load, a fairly serious-looking menu screen will appear. Don't be put off. It's all very simple. Just flip through your Service Record - where information on your past performance and any medals you've won can be found - and choose how to arm your ship. You only get a set amount of energy and you choose how you distribute it - shields, your normal phaser or your super-fast phaser.

You get the general idea. Anyway, once you've got through all of this and into the gameplay, you realise what a nice piece of programming Thunderceptor is. Your ship (a three-bowed effort) moves across the screen with incredible speed. All you have to do is slightly touch the joystick, and you'll go zooming off ail over the place.

All the time, as you're heading across the screen, little stars scroll from the right to the left with varied speed, giving a reasonable impression of depth. Every time you alter your vertical position, your craft pleasingly rolls one way or the other before settling down once your course has stabilised.

Not that there's much time to dither around admiring the graphics. Enemy ships appear right from the word go. No easily wasted space-divs these. They spin and manoeuvre just as swiftly as you, and aren't averse to slinging a few laser bolts in your direction.

After despatching a wave or so of these guys (they come at you in pairs) you'll find yourself battling your way through a storm of pink fluffy things. Meteorites, apparently. Shortly you'll come up against one of the larger ships. These have fleets of smaller fighters flying on convoy to protect them. You'll have to take out the fighters and go to super-phaser mode to pick off the big ships.

At the end of each level, you return to the main menu and select from the options of inspecting your record, rearming your ship or embarking on the next stage. At this point, you can also save your ranking.

Thunderceptor, underneath all the trappings, is really just a high quality space-blast. There's obviously nothing wrong with this, although you should be aware of the fact in if it's an original idea you're in search of, Thunderceptor won't provide it.

If you're happy to go for a slick shoot-out with the fastest sprites this side of Clogaville, it's a damned sight better than a poke in the eye with a nail.

Label: Go!
Author: Ernieware
Price: £8.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Tamara Howard

Old hat with new life injected. Nippy little fly-about for first-time buyers or enthusiasts alike.


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ERNIEWARE are a Dutch company who haven't actually had a great deal of work published in this country. With the Americas Cup Challenge from US Gold out last year, Thunderceptor and Fast and Furious are their only games.

SOFTOGRAPHY: Americas Cup Challenge (US Gold, 1986).