by Barry Leitch, Ned Langman, Nigel Brown, David John Rowe, Junior Tomlin
Virgin Games Ltd
Your Sinclair Issue 43, Jul 1989   page(s) 54,55

£9.99 cass/£14.99 disk
Reviewer: Matt Bielby

We seem to be seeing some well spanky shoot 'em ups around at the moment, which is fine by me 'cos I'm pretty partial to a touch of senseless violence every now and again. Just look at this issue - Dominator, Forgotten Worlds and this one, which for my money is the best of the three. Want to know why? Nope! Um, well be like that. Hmm, just you and me left now, is it, Mum? Well, I'll just tell you then.

Silkworm is one of the licences Virgin/Mastertronic has picked up in its deal with the Sales Curve and it's a whole barrel of laughs. Not very colourful, it's true (all the sprites are monochrome, though some of the scrolling background areas are quite bright) but it's so fast and busy and full of all sorts of things going on that you hardly notice.

Basically it benefits from being based on a very playable and non-too ambitious coin-op (quite how I can get away with such rash statements is quite beyond me - I've never played it in my life) and reproduces all the various enemy craft and progressively more difficult attack formations very faithfully. It's a horizontal scroller featuring a helicopter (a nice little sprite which dips and swings very realistically, featuring a moving tail rotor) with two main points of interest, the first of which is the bizarre assortment of enemy copters. Half of them are very organic, semi-alive looking, the most memorable of which is probably the large goose-shaped craft that forms together from various component parts in front of your eyes. Very hard to kill, this.

However, there are also froggish vehicles that hop along the ground, insect look-alikes that hover threateningly then buzz straight for you, and giant end-of-level monsters that Jackie insists look just like big goldfish. Blow one of these giant choppers fnar) and you get all sorts of bonus points and extra guns and stuff.

The other snazzy thing is that it's a true two player - it you've got a mate who doesn't mind being hunched over the keyboard while you sit back with the joystick, that is. While you fly the chopper he gets his mits on the jeep that cruises along the ground beneath you.

Basically your chum'll have a much rougher ride, because he's limited to tooling along on the ground and blasting things as opposed to having the whole screen area to duck and dive in. He can change the angle of his gun though and jump in the air at the jab of a button to either avoid tanks and ground objects or to get a different angle of attack on incoming aircraft.

Occasionally, you can work together quite effectively to clear the screen, at which point everything gets incredibly busy with bullets, missiles, tanks. choppers, jeeps and even Duncan's granny's garage thrown in for good measure. Brill fun.

My one real complaint was to have been that every successive level has pretty much the same sequence of enemy craft - just a few more of them each time - until I realised that this was total cobblers and a few levels into the game they throw a whole new assortment at you. Yikes! Don't let the fact that you can quite easily blast your way through the first few levels fool you - there's some tough, nicely designed and well thought out stuff in here. Sound on the 128K is spanky too, with some good bullet and metallic hitting noises.

One last thing - this game isn't to be recommended for anyone suffering from epilepsy. When you are near to killing one of the big end-of-level monsters the screen very quickly flashes black and white which made my eyes go all funny. Just thought I'd mention it.

Life Expectancy: 76%
Instant Appeal: 92%
Graphics: 85%
Addictiveness: 87%
Overall: 90%

Summary: Phew! What a spanky little shoot 'em up. Buy it!

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 62, Feb 1991   page(s) 50

RICH PELLEY and JON PILLAR - as nice of couple of young chaps as you could ever hope to meet. So we locked them up in the...


Reviewer: Rich Pelley

Although Silkworm, sideways scrolling shoot-'em-up number 92150430702, is hardly the most original game on the planet, it certainly is one of the corkiest. The world is about to blow up and only you, dear reader, can stop it - by flying along in a helicopter and shooting things. And should a friend be coming round for tea then he or she can help by driving along in a little jeep at the bottom of the screen at the same time.

Everything is beautifully clear and moves around pretty convincingly (including your sprite). There are plenty of different baddies along the line, including other choppers, blobby things, funky little jobbies which join up in mid-air into a sort of goose, missile launchers, strange spikey things on the floor and a unfeasibly large chopper at the end of each level.

And it's blimmin' addictive, I can tell you, matey - I've just spent all evening playing the thing when I should've been writing this pesky review instead (ahem). Well worth three quid out of anyone's pocket (except for mine, of course).

Overall: 93%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 55, Jul 1990   page(s) 33,34,35,36,37


Where'd we all be without shoot-'em-ups, eh, Spec-chums? Well, we'd all have much smaller games collections, that's for sure! Join MATT BIELBY for an epic blast through nearly a decade of firepowered Spec-fun...

Blimey! The complete guide to shoot-'em-ups, eh? A bit of a mammoth task you might be thinking (and you'd be blooming right! It's taken me absolutely ages!). It's so blinking gigantic in fact that we've had to split it in two to save the whole ish from being packed to the gills with ancient shooty-shooty games and very little else!

So how's it all going to work? Well, this issue we spotlight those hundreds of games where you control a little spaceship, aeroplane or what have you, while next time round we'll be wibbling on for ages about those blasters where you command a man, creature or robot - things like Operation Wolf, Gryzor, Robocop (the list is endless, I'm sorry to say). Yes, I know it's a bit of an arbitrary way to divide the whole subject up in two, but it's the best I could come up.

Anyway, if you 're all ready, let's arm the missiles, oil the cannons, buckle our seatbelts and go kick some alien ass! (Or something.)


Well, at the risk of stating the obvious, it's a game where simple reaction times count for (almost) everything, and the actual shooting of various baddies constitutes the major part of the gameplay. It's just about the oldest form of computer game going (Space Invaders was pure shoot-'em-up, for instance), short of mad Victorian chappies crouching down inside big wooden cabinets and pretending to be chess machines. It's one of the most enduring forms too - hardly an issue of YS goes by when we don't review at least a couple of newies, and it's the rare arcade-style game (sports sims and puzzlers excepted) that doesn't include at least a small shoot-'em-up element in there somewhere as part of the gameplay.

But back to the case in hand. What we're talking about here are the pure shoot-'em-ups - games where the wiping out of waves of aliens or other baddies is everything (though let's be fair, the violence in most of these is very abstract and minimal). They easily divide into four major types, depending on how you view the action. And you can read all about them over the page.


Goodness knows - Space Invaders is the obvious answer, but most of the other early arcade games were shoot-'em-ups too - Defender, Asteroids, Galaxian and the rest. To find out what made it onto the Speccy first, well, we'll have to look back in the vaults and see what we come up with, shan't we?

Right, here we are with the very first issue of Your Spectrum (later to evolve into Your Sinclair), cover date January 1984. Flick to the review section and we have two Space invaders-type games, both from long-forgotten Anirog Software - Galactic Abductor and Missile Defence. The second issue (Feb 84. believe it or not) brings us such delights as Xark (Contrast Software), a Defender-type game and Alien Swoop (a Galaxians rip-off), while in issue three had Bug Byte's Cavern Fighter (a tunnel-based jobbie, like an early version of R-Type).

Hmm. Let's go back a bit further, shall we? All the early computer games mags were listings based (ie had lots of crap Basic games printed out line by line over oodles of pages, as if Program Pitstop had run rampant over the whole mag!) so we might find something in there. Believe it or not find something in there. Believe it or not, I have the very first issue of the very first computer games mag in the country sitting right here on my desk, cover-dated November 1981. There's only one Sinclair game in here (for a ZX80 or 81 - a Speccy forerunner - and taking up a whole 2K!). It's called City Bomb, and it's a sort of shoot-'em-up. Apparently you're in a plane at the top of the screen and have to bomb the city beneath you, flattening out a landing strip so you can put down safely. Thrilling stuff, eh? As for commercially available stuff, it's all lost a bit too far back in the mists of time to be sure. Still, shoot-'em-ups started emerging for the Speccy pretty soon after the machine came out, certainly by the end of '82. Throughout 83 people like Quicksilva and Bug Byte were churning out Space Invaders, Asteroids and Scramble clones advertised as 'being in 100% machine code and in colour' too, so perhaps it was one of those. Exciting stuff, eh?


In the great YS Guide To... tradition, for a one-off-only special occasion we've adapted our normal rating system to accommodate the shoot-'em-up theme. Here's how they work...

Alien-Death-Scum-From-Hell Factor
Are there oodles of inventive, nasty and extremely difficult-to-kill baddies all over the place (including the biggest, meanest muthas ever at the end of each level) or do you end up fighting a fleet of Trebor Mints?

Are there oodles and oodles of well-thought-out and spectacular weapons available to pick up and use, or do you have to make do with the same crap little peashooter throughout the game?

Copycat Factor
Unusually, the lower the score the better here. Basically, is this exactly the same as every other shoot-'em-up ever (in which case it'll get a high score for being chronically unoriginal) or does it have something innovative and special about it to set it apart from the crowd?

Visibility Factor
Does everything make a degree of sense in Speccyvision, or is it all a jumbled mass of pixels, with bullets, missiles and even little spaceships winking in and out of view willy-nilly?


An excellent little helicopter shoot-'em-up from last year. Silkworm managed to do just about everything right. Not only were the sprites nice and big (and distinctive - the giant baddie choppers are especially neat) but the plain backgrounds, lovely metallic sound effects (in 128K) and well-paced gameplay made it one of the most entertaining blasts of last year. Nifty two-player mode too, with the second chappy controlling a ground based jeep a la Army Moves.

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Transcript by Chris Bourne

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