Gaplus (Mastertronic) Review | Computer & Video Games - Everygamegoing


By Mastertronic
Commodore 64/128

Published in Computer & Video Games #85


Back in 1979 Namco released Galaxians, a full-colour video game which added a new twist to the jaded Space Invaders theme. Instead of moving across the screen in a strict formation, individual ships peeled off from the main group at the top of the screen and dive-bombed the player's laser base, kamikaze-style. At the time the game caused a minor sensation.

A year later Super Galaxians was released; the same game, but faster and meaner.

Then, in late 1981, Namco looked to their original game for inspiration, and Galaga was born. Its game mechanics are fundamentally similar, but new twists were added in the form of double firepower capability, bonus screens and more vicious, swirling patterns of attack craft.

Another year and a half passed by before Namco revitalised the theme and produced Gapuls. This time the new additions were different style bonus screens, the ability to turn attackers into allies and the player's ship was given a bigger area of movement.

Since then, the Galaxians theme has been exhumed once, in the form of Galaga '88.

The Gaplus licence was recently bought by Virgin, and the conversion task given to Compunet aces Ash and Dave - and what a great job they've done: from the graphics through sound to gameplay, the Commodore version of Gaplus is faithful to the original in every way.

At the start of a game the player's ship materialises at the bottom of the screen, and formations of alien craft appear, fly around, and assemble at the top of the screen. When all are present, the attack starts in earnest and the craft are either shot or dodged. Occasionally a big alien flies down, and when blasted twice releases a neat little gizmo which, when picked up, shoots forward a tractor beam which traps any aliens careless enough to fly into its path. When the beam's effects wear off, the captured aliens assemble on either side of the player's ship and give extra firepower.

When two attack waves of aliens are despatched, the player tackles a bonus screen, where extra points may be earned. A quartet of aliens appears at the top of the screen, and when shot fall downwards. Repeated shooting bounces them back up briefly, and every hit scored creates a little block. As this bizarre juggling continues, the aliens move faster and faster, and the blocks eventually spell out BONUS (if you can keep juggling long enough). When all the aliens have escaped your lasers, points are awarded for the number of hits, which can be quite considerable.

Although the game concept is an old one, Gaplus is an enjoyable and frenetic blaster. The gameplay is very straightforward, and boils down to shooting and dodging. But, as is often the case with simple games, it's very addictive indeed.

Although Gaplus is a wonderful conversion, some will find its simplistic and somewhat archaic gameplay a little tedious. However, if you're a blasting fanatic who enjoys an uncluttered and fast shoot-'em-up, or would just enjoy taking a nostalgic blast to the past, try it out.

Me? I love it!!