Slap Fight

by Nick Bruty, Bob Wakelin
Imagine Software Ltd
Sinclair User Issue 65, Aug 1987   page(s) 78,79

Label: Ocean
Author: Probe
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

Listen. I'm quite prepared to die. I mean, I can admit to an error. If I couldn't hack it with the joystick - call me a dodo. If I didn't read the instructions properly - I'm a nerd. Maybe I didn't master the strategic intricacies - call me dumb but here's one thing: I DONT WANT TO DIE BECAUSE I CAN'T SEE THE DAMN BULLETS. IT'S JUST UNFAIR.

That in a nutshell - is the big problem with Slap Fight. Otherwise it's really got a lot going for it. Excellent coin-op original, neat game ideas, very detailed and smoothly scrolling graphics, even the sound is OK.

But because of the graphic detail the display is two-colour black-and-white only (apart from twiddly bits like the score) small objects can sometimes be very hard to see. Under the general category of small objects come enemy bullets. This means that half the time your Slapfighter (a disappointingly unimpressive name) explodes in a ball of flames for no apparent reason whatsoever. I felt disappointed. Depressed even.

In all other respects Slap Fight is grade A prime material. The thing that separates this particular kill and dodge extravaganza from others is a weapon select system based on collecting stars. The more stars you collect the greater (roughly) the power of your defensive systems. You get stars by destroying particular aliens or groups of aliens. One star buys you 'speed' and you can shunt your spaceship over the screen at about twice the usual speed, larger numbers of stars win you gigantic wings which quadruple your fire power (but make you easier to hit) or incredible enemy- seeking missiles which whizz around the screen like, um, well just like guided bullets hitting targets really.

The skill comes in deciding what weapons to select where - you don't have to select the current system on offer, you can elect to wait and collect more stars for something better (it's a lot like Green Shield Stamps actually) or even, under some circumstances, something worse. This is not as dumb as it sounds - some of the earlier options may be more useful in some circumstances. For example I found lots of use for the homing missiles and not much for the temporary invincibility shield which makes you impregnable for a while but takes you back to weapons Stage 1 when your time runs out. Maybe I just like watching things explode.

The background is the usual abstract industrial landscape - geometric buildings, the odd road, runway and gun installation. The baddies are, to begin with, round and boring (later on they look like rather nasty but small flies). At certain points you get a very large and seemingly ferocious alien to deal with. Though disturbing in many ways, it responded pleasingly to a quick burst of laser fire and exploded.

I almost think this game is great except that, since half the time I can't see the alien bullets, death came as a particularly bitter blow. It may turn out to be a matter of our very average TV and may be fine on a nice crisp monitor but my betting is most people out there have average TVs and will suffer similarly.

Lots of good points for Slap Fight then but beware of invisible bullets.

Overall: 7/10

Summary: Generally a fine conversion from an excellent original coin-op. But watch out for those invisible bullets!

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 101, Jul 1990   page(s) 62,63

Label: Hit Squad
Price: £2.99
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

Slapfight! Wotta classic! I can't remember whether it was actually an SU Classic (TM), but it's certainly a they-don't-make-them-like-that-any-more type title which should appear in everyone's collection. This budget re-release is the ideal opportunity.

Slapfight was one of the original weapon-collecting shoot-'em-ups; unlike later titles such as R-Type, it's vertically-scrolling, but the Spectrum version is creditably fast and furious, and the assortment of aliens is well hard.

It's like this. You pilot the Slapfighter (stupid name, great little ship) as it weebles around the vertically-scrolling monochrome background which fills up two-thirds of the screen. Waves of aliens attack from all directions - the attack waves are very predictable, so part of the challenge is just learning the patterns. The backgrounds feature enormous fortifications, walkways and ramparts, but there are no obstacles to crash into, just furiously-firing aliens. Keep moving to avoid their fire, zap them and pick up any stars which appear. As you collect more of these, the feature indicator at the side of the screen increments; hit the space bar to activate the feature. You should definitely activate a couple of SPEED icons, but any more than that and your ship seems to fly around the screen uncontrollably.

Other icons include a side-gun which shoots sideways, a wing-gun which adds powerful forward-firing missiles, a forward-firing bomb, a long -range laser, and my favourite, the homing missile. Select this and up to eight missiles at a time burst from your ship and demolish anything on screen - trouble is, you can't fire again until all the missiles have found a target.

There's also a defensive screen which lasts for a variable time depending on how many hits you sustain.

There are some fab end-of-level guardians, the first one of which is pretty slow and lumbering and easy to take out. There are also despicable little scuttlers which run along platforms and shoot you from junctions unless you pick them off first.

Adequate bleepy sound and a two-player option add up to a real bundle of fun. Get it at once.

Graphics: 68%
Sound: 67%
Playability: 89%
Lastability: 90%
Overall: 89%

Summary: Classic shoot-em-up action; miss this and you're a dead anchovy.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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