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Mastertronic Plus
1989
Arcade: Vehicle Combat
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
None

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22
Jim Douglas
Chris Bourne

Speedboat Assassins? Well, well well. As if you hadn't seen enough of three dimensional "spectaculars" over the past few months, Speedboat Assassins stumbles onto the bandwagon.

You're a member of an elite corps of men on a deadly mission to destroy, destroy DESTROY! You're winched in on helicopter and dropped into various waterways around the world. All teeming with enemy activity. Even the Thames (with authentic Big Ben backdrop) has been overrun with baddies.

The chopper makes another swoop to drop off some ammunition, which can later be replenished and powered-up by running over tokens floating in the water.

The action starts with a relatively easy cruise down an avenue of enemy mines. There's enough room to move around easily and you really only need to divert from a full steam ahead course a couple of times.

Shortly, though, life becomes more tricky when enemy speedboats (with increasingly tough hulls) face off against you. This is when your boating prowess is vital. You'll have to sort out a strategy which will solve the problems of both dodging the enemy missiles, not crashing into the mines and still staying sufficiently on course so as to not miss your targets.

Your targets on each level are communications towers, beaming their messages of doom all over the place. Each tower requires a good plugging before it will collapse.

The further you get into the game, the more heavily protected the towers become, and eventually, you simply can't deal with all the bobbing mines, swerving boats and drifting missiles. It's not as if the enemy have got smarter or better, you get the feeling that you're just being overrun.

The 3-D effect is competently produced using gradual magnification on the sprites; they start off as little blocks on the horizon and end up as large, and not too chunky, shapes in the foreground. The effect of driving a speedboat is less convincing. The waterbound drift that should be evident is more like a muddy skid in a car.

Your bullets are actually a bit pathetic. They look more like little crosses flying through the air than steel cased hollow-point death messages. Not only does this make you feel far from fearless. It's hard to see where your shots are heading. When you're trying to dodge oncoming craft, it really is necessary to be able to tell if they're about to strike their targets, or you need to take another shot.

It should be possible to glide around on the water, but it just doesn't happen. It's that elusive Asteroids feel. £3 is a perfectly reasonable outlay for Speedboat Assasins, but frankly, if you dig out one of your old games, and squint, you could save yourself some cash.

Label: Mastertronic
Author: Binary Design
Price: £2.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Jim Douglas

Hardly the best.

62%
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58%
60%

Screenshot Text

He's made a direct hit on the mine! But will he be able to dodge the oncoming missile? Wonky controls say "no".

Weaving through the maze of mines 'n missiles. Up ahead is an floating ammo dump.