What a way to spend a Sunday, stuck up in space with a jet pack on your back and a blaster in your hand, obliterating attacking waves of aliens...
At first these belligerent creatures approach in predictable fashion, but as more and more of them are destroyed the waves become more complex and less predictable, sometimes attacking from both sides of the screen. Wiping an alien out takes accurate lire, and sometimes more than one shot. Laser walls move very fast across the screen, and avoiding them takes great agility and accuracy.
When certain waves have been destroyed, 'Firepower' and 'Move Faster' arrows are revealed. Six of each are available for collection by touch.
But after the alien hordes have been eradicated, a larger creature is revealed. Destroying this overgrown beauty requires considerable fire power - but when it's blown to bits you can go on to clean up the next of the four planets.
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: small and badly coloured
Sound: decent title tune, average spot FX
Options: definable keys, high-score table
'Odin's games are usually a joy to play, but Sidewize doesn't quite live up to their standard. The graphics are very clear and it would be hard to fault the animation, but none of the colours work. The sound is good, though, especially the title tune. Sidewize is a straightforward shoot-'em-up; it's playable and enjoyable, though I didn't find anything to keep me hooked.'
ROBIN ... 72%
'Firebird seems to be a bit late off the mark with this Nemesis-type game - you'd have thought that after a good look at this popular genre the producers would have come up with a decent product. The add-ons seem to have no effect, and the enemy waves hardly vary. Colour is very badly used, and the screen soon becomes a strain on the eyes. Sidewize is very repetitive and boring - a great disappointment, especially on the Gold label.'
PAUL ... 32%
'Sidewize is really dull. The graphics are unattractive, and most of the attack waves have been ripped off from Thalamus's Commodore Delta. There's little to hold the interest; the planets are very similar, and once you've played long enough to predict the attack patterns (about an hour) there's nothing left.'
MIKE ... 46%
Do I like it Sidewize? Listen, I like it any way I can get it, but from now on I'll take my bit on the side sitting up. Seems to give you more thrusting power, you see.
Oh, so you misunderstood, did you? Well, let me explain before I get another ear bending from the Ed for talking dirty. Sidewize is a scrolling shoot 'em up featuring a fellah sitting in a free-floating space chair as the world scrolls horizontally around him. Is that all clear? Good.
But Sidewize is much more than that. For a start you've got a choice of four worlds on which to do battle, and for a finish there's a fifth world which you can only approach when you've conquered the initial quartet.
I've actually seen a Firebird stalwart play the whole game through, using a cheat copy it took around twenty minutes of frantic blasting!!! So have pity on poor little Rachael, armed only with the version that you'll be able to buy in the shops, and with no knowledge of machine code to work out the necessary POKEs.
I played for hours and hours, trying to learn the order of the nasties as they flew at me, crept up behind me. snaked around me and finally shot at me, so that I could be prepared for the next attack. But the worst thing was that I just couldn't stop playing.
Other games that were sitting there, waiting to be loaded and reviewed, didn't get a look-in. There's nothing to touch a good shoot 'em up - but for peace of mind, I wish I'd never touched Sidewize!
The problem is that it's one of those games where you groan, scream and tear your hair as you lose your last life... but immediately go back for more because you're sure you won't be fooled again by that treacherous attack that took you by surprise. And of course you'll get a bit further next time - then you'll run crash bang into a new hazard.
Are we sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin, blasting a few abstract aliens as they soar through space. A few of them will leave you a gift of an additional weapon when you kill them. Generous, huh? A floating cross gives you more fire-power, arrows increase your speed and various guns offer different types of laser. Rush to them before they fade away and you'll be better prepared for the hazards ahead.
After the terrors of outer-space, complete with a superb perspective star background, you skim across a planet surface, taking on more and more monsters until you reach the final stage of the planet and a really nasty bit which takes all the heavy artillery you can muster to dispose of it.
After that you get to choose from the remaining planets or get sent to the fifth world. From the cheat-preview I can promise you the grand finale is hair-raising... but the Victory message is worse!
The game itself is a simple concept, but there's just so much to it, and the difficulty is so well judged, you just can't pull the plug. It's fast. The action is flicker free. The monochrome graphics are great and the sound effects set it all off.
It could take years of careful manoeuvre to beat this one, unless you're into hacking, in which case, a request - please, please, please give this beleaguered space-cadet a POKE (Are you talking dirty again? Ed) Now sit up straight in your chair, Rachael, and bring on the next wave.
It's a popular theme - a lone man facing incredible danger, battling against insurmountable odds in situations that would have most normal mortals fleeing for the lavatory.
Recently it's been taken to a kind of logical conclusion. With a spate of games like Gunrunner, Exolon and now Sidewize, our hero has no space-ship or moon buggy to protect him. It's just the guy and his trusty laser, and maybe a backpack somewhere along the line.
In Sidewize at least, this return to good old-fashioned play values pays dividends, and the feeling of genuine vulnerability injects a degree of panic that's been somewhat lacking in the current crop of single-seater-space-ship games.
Sidewize comes Dusting out from the highly talented minds of Steve Wetherill and Colin Grunes, the guys who worked on Heartland (Classic SU 53), and while the graphics occasionally show similarities to the Odin game of last summer the play is wildly different. Where Heartland was a graphic adventure with cute elements and puzzles (of sorts), Sidewize is a down-to-earth space blast with nothing to think about except dodging the aliens or blowing them away.
The game is set on four worlds, each with differing attributes and characteristics. Your mission is to simply wipe out everything that gets in your way.
In between each world you get to travel through a stretch of space and at the end of each level you meet a serious looking monster which takes a heck of a lot of blasting away.
Omnicron (the forest world) starts off fairly easily with your little guy in his spacesuit drifting over a background of stars which are happily scrolling from right to left. There's no sign of the ground at this point - you've got battle through lots of levels of nasties before you get down on to the surface.
Shortly a row of remarkably un-menacing circular things flies on to the screen from the right-hand side and sits in the middle of the screen. Employing your standard machine pistol affair, you destroy the entire line.
The sound effects are wonderful - you can almost hear the little suckers burst when you hit them - it's a bit tough over the roar of your gun. The bad guys are upset now, and they send on a diagonally- flying row of serpent's heads. They look worse then they are, and you can clear the screen in a couple of short bursts.
Take out the remaining of attack waves - easy (ho-hum), and you'll find yourself down on the planet's surface.
At this point, it's probably sensible to talk a little about the graphics. They're all single-colour (green on the Forest World for example) on a black background. Everything scrolls from right to left, on separate levels, giving an impression of depth into the screen - rocks in the foreground move faster than trees so it looks like the trees are further away etc.
The actual gameplay draws, very neatly, on elements from a host of coin-op classics. There's a little jetpac, a smattering of Scramble (in the later levels in the caverns), a bit of Centipede (the movement patterns of some of the aliens are very much like the big bug) and more than a couple of tads of Phoenix (the twirly-swirlyness of the aliens). There are also walls which crop up very fast and unexpectedly here and there which will kill you quite happily should you collide with them.
Sidewize is certainly remarkably difficult, and you'll need a good deal more than just a handgun if you're going to reach the head-honcho bad guy at the end of a planet level.
Just as well, then, that there is a while host of other accessories that you can pick up which will make life a little more tolerable if not exactly easy.
First off there's the laser, which is completely great and lets you cut through almost anything like a razor through butter. There is also a tri-directional fire affair which causes you to fire at 45 degree angles, as well as directly across the screen - very handy for taking out those double-line flight formations.
On the defence side, you can collect a very strange sort of shield which is constructed from two spheroid things. They cycle round your body and will take out most things that attempt to get at you. Then there's extra lives you can pick up, and an extra fast speed option.
After working through the ground part, you come to the inevitable climax, which involves being attacked by a monster of some sort that is at least three times bigger than you. Depending on which level you're on the most will look vaguely appropriate.
On the first level, your foe is an extremely tall version of yourself, and he fires extremely madly. On later levels you encounter a wind god and finally, for some reason that is too hard to fathom - a giant prawn! Each opponent has to be defeated in a different manner, which means either shooting it in the head or the bum or the middle.
After the forest world, you move to the desert, then the ice world, and so on. While the aliens look essentially the same from planet to planet, their flight paths alter quite considerably, and a type of rather Ultimate-esque alien, that you might expect to act in a particular manner may catch you uncomfortably by surprise.
Sidewize is the slickest no-messing shoot-out in a long, long time with a strong coin-op style feel. The graphics and movement are extremely polished and what it lacks in complexity it more than makes up for in speed.
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
You're a lone space man, drifting through the endless star fields of four alien worlds with only a laser gun to protect you against their inhabitants.
In the beginning you choose to work alone or with a second player. Then you select the world you want to enter. First up, the Forest World of Onricon. The monsters there are green and fly at you in whirls and walls. There's the chain linked snake with two heads that need to be shot off before its' destroyed, blackcurrant shaped clusters that cartwheel around the screen and let off tiny but lethal bombs, and lines of medallion monsters which can only be destroyed with multiple hits, There's also a series of walls that whizz towards you and are almost impossible to blast or dodge.
The desert world of Delta is no kinder. The same snakes and medallions get up to more weird contortions, while other creatures in this yellow world, such as the gyrating snakes which throw off kore bombs make up for the lack of the Forest world's wall.
The Cuboid World of Mu includes medallions that give birth to baby medallions, diamond shaped spaceships that are a devil to destroy, a chain snake which you must avoid and an exploding blackberry that creeps up behind you.
Finally, the Frozen World of Iota with its metallion walls and ranks of laser blasting squares. The aliens in each world deposit bonus signs which you can pick up. You'll gain more points and give yourself a breathing space for a while.
Sidewize has all the features of a classic shoot-'em-up arcade game, yet I'm dissatisfied. The reason is that each world contains the same monsters, plus one or two new ones, the configurations are basically the same on each level and some of the aliens are just too fast to hit.
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