The Micro User

3D Space Ranger

Author: James Bibby
Publisher: Microbyte
Machine: BBC Model B

Published in The Micro User 3.07

These stars don't sparkle

On reading the cassette insert for 3D Space Ranger, an arcade game from Microbyte, one gets a feeling of dejd vu. The Cyborg Empire has invaded the Federation and its Death Stars are advancing towards planet Earth.

They have one weakness - the thermal exhaust port leading to the main reactor. Your mission is to penetrate their defences and release a photon charge into this exhaust port.

Sounds rather like the climax of a certain well-known film, doesn't it? Unfortunately, the game doesn't measure up to the excitement of Star Wars.

3D Space Ranger

While the tape is loading, everything seems quite promising. You are offered a choice of joystick or keyboard controls and the computer then tells you which key controls which function. If this doesn't meet with your approval, you can program in your own choice, after which you are given detailed instructions for the game.

In a nutshell, you have to pilot your ship through space, avoid ing alien craft and asteroids, skim over the surface of the Death Star, pursued by more aliens, fly down a trench, release your photon charge at the correct point, and then run for home.

To help you, you have lasers, three of the ubiquitous Smart Bombs, and energy shields. All of these drain energy from your Space Ranger and if you use too much, you won't make it back to base.

3D Space Ranger

This all sounds very promising, but I'm afraid I found the game rather dull.

Firstly, your on-screen craft is rather large, and gives the game a constrained feeling.

Secondly, the asteroids and alien ships move with the agility of a tortoise that has seen better days and are rather easy to avoid or destroy.

3D Space Ranger

Thirdly, you don't have to fire the photon charge yourself. As long as you have followed your onboard computer's instructions, it is released automatically at the right moment.

All this makes the game rather easy. At only my second attempt I completed the mission, and I'm no Han Solo.

If you like sitting in front of a game for hours piling up an enormous score, this may be your cup of tea. If you don't, then you may get bored rather quickly. And if you've played Elite, then I'm afraid 3D Space Ranger is going to end up on a shelf, gathering large amounts of dust.

James Bibby

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