Greetings, puny Earthman. I expect you're sitting smugly in your armchair drinking Tizer and watching Motormouth, congratulating yourself because you've routed R-Type, battered Blasteroids and flogged Forgotten Worlds. You feel like the Master of the Universe, don't you? Well, I've got a shock for you. A nasty shock.
Imagine you're a condemned criminal trying to escape from an alien Death Row. You have a weapon, you have an escape route - but the way to freedom lies through the dreaded Czokan. System (Oh no! Not the Czokan System!). As you make your break for freedom, you find yourself on the first of many levels, Arcturus. From now on, only fast reactions can save you from death at the hands of the most horrible horde of alien slime you've ever encountered!
You have one advantage over your pathetic predecessors. Your weapon fires automatically and continuously - you don't even have to hold down the fire button. So what's the fire button for, you might ask? Foolish Earthling. It's to change your weapon selection.
As you fly through space against a scrolling star background, flights of aliens weave towards you. Eliminate them and they leave behind different tokens which add to the power of your weapons. You can collect up to four for each type, and with each step the weapon becomes more fearsome. The Bullet Gun finally delivers a constant stream of missiles; the 8-Way shoots in all directions; the Pulse fires a combination of bullets and beams; the Wall is a broad slab of destructive energy; and the Rail Gun builds into an unstoppable rod of force.
All the aliens can be destroyed, except for the fireballs and asteroids. The trick is to select the right weapon for each attack wave; choose wrongly, and you'll be pounded to spacedust, with a few seconds' invulnerability your only consolation. You'll also lose a grade from your current weapon status.
At the end of each level is a command ship, the firepower of which is awesome. Aim for its head if you hope to defeat it, pick up a teleport token and proceed to the next level.
In the intermediate screen you may choose which level you tackle next, but the restricted levels require a number of special tokens to be picked up. As your mother ship picks you up to whisk you away to the next level, you can speculate with terror on what you may find; vast pyramids guarded by tubular starships, rocky asteroids surrounded by hideous demons, or technological towers infested by missile units. It may be that you will never fight your way through to the final level, Zybex, unless you recruit the aid of a fellow prisoner; in twoplayer mode, you may have some chance of coming through this trial unscathed. But not MUCH chance ...
Fab colours. Brain-numbing sound. Non-stop action. What more can you ask for a shoot-'em-up? Perhaps you want it to be on a flashy coin-op conversion label? Well, it isn't. It's from Zeppelin, the people responsible for the 1988 budget game of the year, Draconus. Perhaps you want to pay £8.95 for it? Well you don't need to. Perhaps you want to be frog-marched to the shop and forced to buy it at the point of a blaster? Surely that won't be necessary, Earthling...
Author: Gareth Briggs
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
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