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Players Premier
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K
Unspecified custom loader

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Chris Jenkins
Chris Bourne

Strangely strange are the ways of the computer programmer; fueled on coffee and doughnuts they will plug away for years producing nothing but tedious platforms-and-ladders games and horizontally-scrolling shoot-'em-ups, then with no warning their brains will go all wonky and they produce something completely peculiar.

Solar Empire is obviously the result of just such wonkiness; on the surface a space shoot-'em-up of galactic conquest, it looks and plays more like a cheese-induced nightmare.

The evil Dargons have enslaved the galaxy, and you as commander of the liberation fleet have to fight them off and liberate captured planets. The multi-way scrolling screen represent star-scattered space, and pointers around the sides show the direction and distance to the nearest captured planet, sun, free planet and alien ship. You have to intercept the alien Ringworlds and zap them; collect fireballs which can be fired at captured worlds to liberate them; and rendezvous with suns to recharge your energy.

The weirdest thing is that your ship resembles a string of fishing floats, curling and spinning around as you fling it through the ether. You can add extra laser platforms and energy pods, and when you're stationary you can press the space bar to access a galactic map.

Very very strange indeed. Check it out and prepare to be boggled (but don't bother if you have a Spectrum 42A - for some reason it doesn't work on this version of the machine).

Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

Strangely odd snake of doom in space weirdie bizarre epic.