Suddenly scrolling shoot 'em ups are back in style, so we shot off to our very own stylish lovebirds and asked Gwyn Hughes and Rachael Smith whether they've got the scrolls, or if they always walk like that?
Keys: Z-Left; X-Right; L-Up; Symbol Shift-Down; Enter-Fire
From the depths of space they come... and they want our minerals. With a cry of 'Land - mine!' they prepare to plumb the planetary depths in search of metals, precious and otherwise. They are... the interplanetary scrap merchants!!!
They put their rag and bone carts into orbit round each of the planets of our solar system. But these aren't flea-bitten horses dragging Steptoe wagons. These aren't even interstellar skips These are sooper-dooper Dreadnoughts. And they're bi-i-i-g!!!
This is obviously the sort of situation that calls for a hero. And you are the sort of person who volunteers to fly a low level mission in a teensy weensy Manta fighter, against a huge, heavily defended hulk... aren't you? Stop trying to hide behind that potted palm - I can see you!
Strapped into your cockpit - to stop you running away - you set off on what will be the flight of your life. The last flight of your life. So long, suicide jockey. It's been good to know ya!
Or to put it another way - Uridium, the Commodore (boo) smash hit, has found its way onto the Spectrum, and its difficult to imagine a faster blast everything up. It's one of those rare, perfectly balanced games. One that'll keep you up into the early hours unable to pull the plug because next time you might just make the next level.
So what makes Uridium the megagame, it undoubtedly is? Could it be the turn-on-two-and-a-half-new-pence handling of your Manta, as it twists, turns and spins through space? Perhaps! Not only is the manoeuvrability of the little ship a joy to behold, it soon becomes second nature as you wrench the joystick round for another 180 degree turn. You're really in touch with the on-screen action.
Then there's the strategy element. Of course you can plough on in, taking pot shots at anything and everything, but if you do you'll soon be just another entry in an alien junk man's inventory. This calls for a little subtlety, see.
For one thing you need to know your way round the behemoths, because their surfaces are covered in aerials, fortifications and even the odd outside loo (for your convenience). If you don't want to wrap yourself round one of these obstacles you'll need a fairly close knowledge of the best path... particularly since you'll be flying fast!
Second trick is to learn what class of fighter's going to make your life a misery next. Some are fairly easy, flying a nice neat pattern, but others cause more of a problem. You'll have to decide whether there's a chink in their strategy or just to avoid them.
Eventually you'll beat a behemoth and see that welcoming message flashing at the top of the screen, telling you it's time to land. But not to relax. Never relax! Within seconds you'll be spacebound again, battling against a new foe, with a whole new flight path to learn.
The most obvious omission, compared to the Commie original, is the colour. Hewson has sensibly opted for monochrome backgrounds, though the stars still sparkle most colourfully. This sometimes causes problems if you're trying to spot small bombs against a textured surface. But the horizontal scrolling, never easy on the Speccy, is superfast and smooth.
Uridrum has to be the ultimate shooting match. So remember - in space nobody can hear you scream... but your folks will tell you to shut up every time your ship gets shot to smithereens!
Cheaper than a speeding bullet. Leaps small molehills at a single bound! Is it a bird? Is it a Wankel rotary engine? No, it's 'budget king' Marcus Berkmann with the latest in budget software.
Reviewer: Marcus Berkmann
Gasp! Well, it had to happen, I suppose. It has been said (by me, after a few) that when Uridium finally reached cheapie status, civilisation would finally have ground to a halt. So here it is, and I haven't noticed anarchy, death and destruction yet (except in the YS offices).
Uridium is of course the king and queen of scrolling shoot 'em ups, the game that proved it could be done on the Spectrum and how. Since then Hewson has moved on to such glories as Zynaps, Exolon and Cybernoid, but Uridium holds a special place in all our hearts, 'cos when it came out, it was really special.
And it remains a rip-roaring blastarama, the sort of violent experience that stops normal people like us going out on the streets and taking things out on innocent bystanders. Unless of course you've been blasted out of the sky just before reaching the end of this particular Dreadnought, in which case you could probably plead justifiable homicide. Copied to death by lesser hacks, Uridium is still as playable as ever and a cracking good zap.
4 MEGAGAMES FOR UNDER A TENNER!
Honest guv! Sounds well dodgy dunnit? That's what we thought so we sent David 'Miserly' McCandless out with a crisp new tenner to boldly go where no stingebag had gone before (shopping) and not to come back until he'd found four YS megagames. We didn't think he'd be back. He didn't think he'd be back. We were wrong.
Talk about Mission Impossible, this was flamin' Mission Inconceivable. Four megagames for under a tenner? There's no such thing. Well at least there wasn't until a cunning lobe at the back of my brain remembered that a load of old ripsnorters were being released on budget labels. Mind you, by today's standards these games may be a molecule less than kosher but - hey! a megagame's a megagame no matter what epoque you're living in.
But there was a problem.
There were mounds, piles and heaps of past corkers to be had in the shops. All the companies had realised the potential market in resurrecting games, jumped on the exact same bandwagon and nearly toppled over. So I, being what I am, (insert your own joke here) picked out the top four blasts from the ghost of the past, the best four raves from the grave, and then rounded the rest up for you to delight over during the post-turkey blues.
Reviewer: David McCandless
Superb shaded graphics, impeccable animation, fast and smooth scrolling (not a common combination on the Speccy) and of course that completely addictive gameplay all go to make Uridium possibly the greatest Commodore to Spectrum conversion of all time - no kidding.
You cruise along in space as the impressive battleship rolls under you. Its defence systems are activated, alert sirens sound. Intricate waves of aliens streak forwards (mechanical doughnuts, starfights and lemons) intending to mount your head over their mantelpieces. You fight - a fiery altercation in space - spinning and weaving, flipping over with stylish animation to avoid their fire, dodging the walls and pillars that rear up all round, raining your lasers on the surface of the ship. You win the fight, land and warp to the next mechanical behemoth - wondering about the fifteen more to be destroyed after that.
The graphics are fluid and fast, and grappling with inertia is a difficult and skillful affair. The scrolling is impeccable and alien attack waves tough and faster than a speeding bullet or clichés to that effect. In fact though Uridium was released in October of '86 it still looks pretty good today.
If you are extremely prejudiced towards aliens, want to fry their butts off, and would like to pilot a ship at incredible speeds then Uridium's the game for you.
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