Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom
Our hero Buck has, up till now has been forced to fight his way off the planet of Zoom from within the confines of the CBM64. Now that's all changed. Buck is ready to grace Spectrum fed screens. Buck Rogers and The Planet Of Zoom, to give it its full title is a pretty straightforward shoot em up. The game is divided according to the insert into 5 levels of 5 battles. The first three battles are fought across the planet's surface, the flat part of which resembles the freshly cut grass at Twickenham, except that the horizontal stripes flash from one lurid colour to another giving the impression of forward movement. Your ship sits in the lower half of the screen and is able to move left or right and, to give the effect of changing altitude, a little way up and down.
The electron posts are a hazard common to the first three battles. They look a little like rugby posts without the crossbar but with wire hoops around each. The first battle has only electron posts looming out from the distance. Ten little triangles at the top of the screen tell you how many posts must be negotiated before you can reach the next screen. Round two requires the removal of sixteen triangles but this time, enemy ships count as well as the posts. Two types of craft can be destroyed: wield, sproingy Space Hoppers and Saucers. Destroying each loses you one little triangle and gets you 400 points. For the maximum points, try and fly through all of the posts because they are worth 500 points a time and with good reason. The third battle is pretty much the same but this time without the hoppers so more saucers. These guys are unpleasant simply because they have a nasty habit of coming at you from behind as well as from the front. If you clear the eighteen triangles you move off into space where you must destroy a wave of 20 saucers, again a lot of the little creeps are sneaking up from behind. Your final task is to destroy the mother ship, a pretty monstrous thing that must be hit dead centre. Not so easy while it keeps firing nasty little missiles at your ship.
Now that you have managed to destroy the first mother ship you will be awarded an extra life to help you on your way through the next four levels. While you are avoiding fatal collisions with posts and aliens you must bear in mind that each one of your 'lives' has a limited fuel supply. No matter how well you fly, sooner or later your ship will drop out of the sky so be aggressive and keep an eye on the fuel bar at the top of the screen. The Planet of Zoom is depending on you.
Control keys: Q to P and Y to T left/right, 1 to 0 and A to L up/down, Z to M to fire.
Joystick: cursor type, Kempston and Interface II
Keyboard play: very good
Use of colour: a bit too vivid at times
Graphics: neat but not outstanding
Sound: good fire sound but little else
Skill levels: 6
Lives: 4 plus extra given
'This really is a pretty easy game to play. I managed to score 220,000 after only a few goes, though I admit getting the maximum score by flying through ALL of the posts is herd. Very soon you realise that every level - there are in fact at least six, not five as the leaflet says - are all the same. The enemy appear in exactly the same pattern each time, and pretty soon you can line yourself up for a kill before the target appears. The vivid colours used for the display can get painful after a while. I didn't understand why the fuel bar was labelled 'time', that doesn't make much sense. The insert that came with the game was not only inaccurate but contained some pretty stupid sentences eg. 'If you fly out side the Electron posts after level one, you are likely to be hit by Electron posts.' The leaflet also claimed that the game became harder with each level; not true. That aside it's not such a bad a game if you take it for what it is; an easy though playable shoot 'em up.'
'Buck Rogers is the sort of game that will be played for scores only, a little like the early arcade games. The graphics are bright and neat but nothing very special and do tend to flicker a bit. The game is playable but not really addictive and / found the Mother Ship to be something of an anti-climax'
'Who remembers Blade Alley by PSS? I did a CRASH back on it in issue 15. Well this is essentially the same game, all US Gold have done is to get rid of a few screens and change the graphics a bit. The shadow underneath your ship is a nice touch except that it does not change size when the ship moves up and down. Another point which I found strange was the time limit which is referred to in the insert as 'fuel' On the whole the game is very easy, so it presents no challenge and, as we all know, a game without a challenge is neither addictive nor playable. I really think that US Gold are scraping the barrel a bit with this one. To the best of my arcade playing knowledge 'Buck Rogers' was always the empty machine that nobody seemed to want to play.'