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The Power House
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Chris Jenkins
Chris Bourne

What a spiffy little shoot-'em-up! Not a jot of originality, to be sure, but the software equivalent of a really hot, steamy Big Mac - greasy but satisfying.

Powerama (is it meant to be Power-ama or Pow-erama? I dunno) features some neat designs, excellent sprite masking and scrolling, and a good deal of vertically-scrolling havoc. Whilst your spaceship looks a bit like a distorted Smiley Face (I think the features are meant to be portholes and vents) the alien fighters are suitably sinister and threatening, and the features of the enemy battle cruisers over which you fly are nicely designed.

All you have to do is blast the surface features in order to deactivate the fleet's solar energy converters and give your fleet a chance to regroup and attack. Rather than sitting watching Neighbours, the aliens churlishly decide to blast you to atoms, so as you proceed upwards you'll have to fight them off. The attack waves are semi-random, so every game is different. Swirling from the top and side of the screen, all the aliens can be destroyed with one blast from your laser, but some move faster and less predictably than others.

As you progress you'll see small flashing icons which you must fly over. This gives you extra speed (which you'll definitely need if you want to get through the early stages), extra bullets and bonus lives.

At the end of each level there's a mother ship which can probably be destroyed, but as it throws bombs at you at a generous speed, it's better to keep well out of its way. Get yourself killed, and you'll disintegrate convincingly.

On the high score table you can choose to start on any of the first four levels. I can't see anyone regretting investing in Powerama; gameplay's fine, the sound's OK and the graphic design is good. I particularly like the way in which the alien ships are always highly visible, despite the fact that your own ship, the aliens and the background are shown in the same colour. That's the sign of meticulous work.

Label: Power House
Author: D. Drummack and C. Galley
Price: £1.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

Excellent budget vertically-scrolling shoot-'em-up.