Ricky Steel is here! The new teenage super hero with the mechanical arm has finally arrived. Just in time, it seems, to save the world from the evil Dr Vardos and his merciless minions. First on foot and then in his combat vehicle Nightwind, Ricky weaves and dodges his way past the the enemy craft sent by the evil doctor as he heads towards the ultimate confrontation - with Vardos himself!
The action is seen from above and the play area scrolls up and down. The game contains four zones, each with its own set of hazards which become successively more treacherous. Enemy craft can approach from either in front or behind so Ricky has to be constantly alert - if his concentration wavers for a second, the android army commanded by Dr V is likely to send him to that scrapheap in the sky.
In the first zone Ricky has to leg it along the tarmac, avoiding helicopters which have the capacity to blast him to smithereens with their missiles. A collision with a chopper is also fatal. Fortunately, Rick can fire missiles too, and he also has a bomb shield to soften the effects of enemy attack. Trundling past traffic jams and road barriers while destroying android patrol ships which move across the road, the man with a steel arm has to make for the end of the zone and a reunion with his cherished motor.
In zone two, aboard Nightwind and flying through the air, Ricky's task is a little harder. Bubbles of fuel need to be collected to keep the super-car in the air as the dynamic duo fight thelr way across a desert. Rockets come zooming back and forth trying to eradicate Ricky, but Nightwind is equipped with a powerful laser cannon, which evens the odds a little as Ricky dodges and weaves his way towards Dr Vardos and his hideout. All the enemy forces have to be wiped out before the zone is completed.
In the third zone, battle resumes over a watery channel. Nightwind is amphibious as well as capable of aerobatics and as he deals with the airborne threat, Ricky has to watch out for submarines which pop up from the water every so often. Plonking a bomb on the deck of a submarine requires sharp reactions and quick timing, but lots of points are there for the winning!
The final zone is populated by androids in the shape of lizards and salamanders as well as Dr Vardos' other minions. Their aim is to thwart Ricky's noble attempt to save the world by finding and eliminating the evil Dr Vardos.
Status displays flank the main action screen: on the left, Ricky's energy and shield or arsenal strength is displayed below the score meter; on the right the zone number is displayed, together with the bonus points awarded, the number of androids that remain in the zone, and large red hearts indicate how many of Ricky's four lives remain. If the enemy forces are not shot down fast enough, it's possible to end up with a negative bonus score, so quick shooting is the order of the day... A radar screen below the main display reveals Ricky's position in relation to the nasties in the current zone, and a message is flashed onto this screen when Ricky bites the dust.
Steel by name and steel by nature: it takes more than a few androids to despatch a teenage super hero. Mikro-Gen plan to produce further games starring Ricky, but first he has to beat Dr Vardos.
Control keys: redefinable: Up/Thrust, Down/Turn; Left, Right, Fire and Bomb/Shield
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Keyboard play: fine
Use of colour: monochromatic action
Graphics: very neatly done
Sound: tune on loading, plus good effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: four scrolling zones
'Well, last month there was a crowd around the demo of this game, with everyone saying how brilliant it was. I think that compared with Equinox - Dave Perry's last game - this is well worth a Smash. The first few levels are very, very hard but once you work out a method they start to get quite playable. The idea behind the game isn't exactly original, but it is presented in a very nice way. Graphically it's excellent! The scrolling is brilliant, as are the characters which are after you. I am generally very impressed as it is playable, pretty and compelling.'
'Stainless Steel contains excellent graphics and superb sound effects; the game is very simple but very addictive. There are some great sound effects, and it's a shame you have to reload to hear more of the title tune - it's great. As shoot 'em ups go, Stainless Steel is very addictive - mainly due to the large scanner at the bottom of the screen that tells you exactly how far away you are from the end of the section. The graphics are superb and quite original, with detailed backgrounds throughout the game. Shoot em up fanatics will go wild over SS to start with, but I'm afraid they may find it too annoying because when you die you go nght back to the beginning. Attractive but infuriating.'
'Stainless Steel is a great shoot 'em up. It has got very good graphics, excellent sound, and on top of that, a lot of playability - it's addictive, too. One thing that niggles me is the fact that when you die, the game takes you right back to the beginning of that level. Minor quibbles apart, Ricky Steel's first game is an excellent blast-the-enemy production, and he stands a good chance of becoming a real super hero if this standard is kept up.'
(Dum-diddly-dum crash bong tish dum-diddly-dum epic music) Ricky Steel, teenage superhero, nosed his car around the bend in the desert road. What was that glinting in the distance... his blood ran cold as he picked out the sleek snout of a heat-seeking missile, boring through the air towards him. He snapped back the joystick and his car sailed into the air, the twin machine guns at its front spitting certain death...
Mad Max anyone? In this tale of future violence, literally everything is bristling with machine guns and considering what you, as Ricky, are up against, it's just as well. As you fly along the roadways/seaways a la Spy Hunter in your car (if it flies all the time, why is it a car?) a multitude of very, very fast moving missiles and droid helicopters are flying in the opposite direction. It's your task to first find your car and get in it and then plough your way through successive streams of "two directional replacement inertia scrolling" screens until... well, until you snuff it, really!
To be perfectly honest, I thought that the missiles weren't the only things that were boring through the air. Although undoubtedly very skilfully produced and written, after a short time the relentless stream of helicopters and interesting looking aliens begins to pall. On top of this the explosion sound effect, (for all the world sounding like fingernails down a blackboard), very quickly gets on your nerves and 'cos the game is so difficult you get to hear it quite a lot.
The difficulty of the gameplay stems from the speed of the aliens, and the slowness of Ricky, plus the ineffectual armourments he's supplied with. Why, if this is such a hot blast'em up, is Ricky shooting single pixels? Have you ever tried shooting accurately at a fast moving droid helicopter with a leaky peashooter? Well, you certainly get enough practice here. Because Ricky dawdles along so slowly, even the most lackadaisical droid 'copter can whizz up behind him and shoot him in the back before he can bring his death-dealing pixel dribbler to bear.
Another unfortunate tendency with this game is the No Win Startup situation. This is where you lose a life just after you begin a new round due, not to incompetence on your part, but to the fact that a droid 'copter materialises right in front of you before you can even move. Scrrriiittchhh! You're dead.
If you like shooty games and can be fagged to persist, then this is as good a game as any I suppose. But in the originality of game play stakes this ranks alongside most of the best budget games. Which would be fine if it was a budget game. Sorry, Ricky. I wasn't so easily impressed.
In the midst of multi-player zillion screen, ultra sophisticated, brain testing megaprograms it can be a relief to find a program like Stainless Steel, which for all its clever presentation and hard edged sprites really only requires you to blast and blast and blast and keep out of the way.
There isn't too much to say about subtleties of gameplay or tactics in Stainless Steel. If you can keep firing and kill enough baddies in a short enough time - you'll survive. Until the next screen. You are Ricky Steel a teenage superhero burning up the desert in Nightwind, a combat vehicle which looks like a Maserati and drives like a dream. Your teenage task - to blast assorted android troops and win the day against Dr Vardos. He represents forces of darkness and general nastiness.
There are four zones and in each you must clear the way of enemy troops and battle your way up a screen which scrolls up/down the middle of the TV. Your movement is also indicated on a long range scanner which runs right/left across the bottom of the screen. This gives information on enemy presence and also gives you an idea, through their movement patterns, of what kinds of troops to expect.
The task is slightly different in each zone. In the first you simply have to reach your battle Maserati. Later zones have you driving at speed and flying. Worry not though, in all of them you get to blast almost everything into tiny pieces. Of course they will certainly reciprocate.
Aside from steering and blasting, there is a time limit on each zone and fuel levels to watch - you need to collect the occasional floating fuel pods which come hovering by.
The game is astoundingly difficult. It took me ages to master. Time and time again android helicopters hammered me to bits, despite enthusiastic use of my defensive shields. Take that as a recommendation if you're some sort of Mr Cool of the consuls. If you are an ordinary games gonzo you may get very irritated indeed, but that's a few steps away from addicted I guess.
Label: Mikro Gen
Author: David Perry
Reviewer: Graham Taylor
PRICE: £8.95/£13.95 (Amstrad disc)
Mmmmm! What a nice cover! The guy on the front looks like an all-American hero, if ever I set eyes upon one. He's got lots of leather gear, a fast car, a dame in more leather, an enormous gun, and a pair of mirrored sunglasses.
This, readers, is Ricky Steel - tough guy and defender of truth, the meek and nice red cars.
The games has a brain-squeezingly original storyline - Dr Vardos is going to conquer the earth with his horde of androids. You must stop him.
The game comes in four zones, each featuring Ricky in a different situation, be it on foot, battling against helicopters and suchlike, or in his car, Nightwind, driving along a dusty desert road.
The whole program is remarkably similar to Spyhunter. Movement is quite smooth, but the game is very reminiscent of some early Spectrum stuff from Imagine.
This game is so mediocre that even the Ed himself couldn't bring himself to play it for more than a few minutes. Sorry, Mikro-Gen, try again.
Not saving the world again, you sigh as you climb aboard your ground skimmer and prepare to do battle with the nasty robotic hordes of the evil professor. The old prof, naturally enough, is indulging in the time-honoured pastime of blowing-up the world. The fuse is burning and only you stand between it and the future of mankind.
You have to get through five long and complex screens. You have to shoot the robots, helicopters and aircraft while picking up fuel and avoiding colliding with the usual deadly debris.
The graphics are crisp and stylish, with our hero picked out in fine detail. The landscape scrolls very smoothly top to bottom, with a radar screen giving you advance warning of impending trouble. There is virtually a gratuitous amount of graphic detail scattered around the screen. Desert landscapes, highways with parked cars and toll booths - it all adds to the atmosphere. The graphics and the way the skimmer moves are in many ways reminiscent of Uridium on the Commodore - it is that good.
Although just a simple shoot-'em-up, the smoothness of the graphics and the sensitivity of the controls makes it the kind of game which will get you hooked very quickly.
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