Your Sinclair1st May 1991
Published in Your Sinclair #65
Defenders Of The Earth
According to my back issue collection, Rich Pelley reviewed this one as a full pricer a mere 10 issues ago, and according to the name tag my Mum's sewed onto the back of my shirt, that seems to be me.
Apparently, I reckoned it was quite good, with excellent graphics and fast-moving gameplay, but perhaps a tad too tricky for its own good. And that's exactly what I think now, because it really hasn't aged at all in the last 10 months as we haven't had too many games like this in recently. In fact it could have easily been released as a full-pricer now (if it hadn't been already) without hardly a complaint (apart of course from that complaint of it being too hard). [Get on with it. - Ed]
The plot involves some goodies, the Defenders of the Earth (Flash Gordon plus 3 chums), and a baddy, Ming the Merciless, who has abducted and threatened to kill the Defenders' children to deter them from interfering with his plans to take over the world. You take on the role of Flash, who has to single-handedly make his way through the flip-screen dungeons where the children are being held.
The baddies come at you from both sides and require some jumping, ducking and running away to avoid or hit, although this is rather difficult as they move faster than you. You can only spend about 6 seconds on each screen before the intruder alarm goes off and your energy frantically starts draining - so games have to be played fast and are usually pretty short too. Other hazards include pits and rivers which have to be jumped over, and large monsters which take lots of hits and lives to destroy. All in all, it's not particularly easy.
And the fact that it's 'not particularly easy' is the biggest problem because although it's initially a very addictive game, you'll probably get bored very quickly and give up out of sheer frustration. A better add-on weapon system would have enhanced things enormously - super-laser, machine guns, grenades and stuff lying about would be far more use than the pathetic gun re-charger which is all that's on offer, and would allow you to progress much further into the game and enjoy it a lot more. You can call the help of one of the other 3 Defenders when necessary (to open a door something), although to honest this doesn't really add much to the game. This could have been an ideal opportunity for a few sub-games of something to break up the frantic speed of things a bit.
So, it's technically very impressive but a bit hard with not enough to do because, despite the different scenery, the gameplay doesn't change at all. Much the same sort of thing as I said about it last time in fact, so it can have the same mark as well.