Addictive, noisy and colourful R-Type variant
Well you've done it again, haven't you? You must be a sucker for punishment. I mean, how many space battles do you want to take part in? For any normal person, one would be enough to make it brown trousers time, but this must be your umpty millionth war. You must be ravin' mad, pal! Well, if you're determined to go through with it. I suppose I'd better give you a bit of information to help you on your way.
You'll need a good ship, so you can take a Katakis class fighter... now, which would you like? Red or blue? What do you mean both? You realise how much these are? OK, OK, I tell you what, I'll give you the 'nose laser only' version. That'll knock the price down. Don't worry though, there are plenty of canisters floating around out there that you can get weapons from, and there are plenty of extra bits of our ships floating around from previous casualties. No, it's all right, I'm only joking! Haha! (Oops, nearly let slip there!).
This sounds like the sales pitch of a large number of spaceship salesmen all over the galaxy, judging by the amount of shoot-'em-ups that simulate the use of them. In Go's latest, you play the part of the customer being badgered by the salesman quoted above, taking life and joystick in hand to defeat an invading enemy fleet. As the salesman said, you can find extra weapons floating around which can be bolted onto the front of your fighter, to be automatically controlled or flown by a friend. What he didn't mention was the super beam weapon which can wipe out whole formations with one blast. Fearsome, eh?
Well, I'm not going to tell you any more than that, so if you want to find out more, turn to The Word where there are full instructions to go with the demo thingy. I'm told this is on a lump of black plastic stuck to the front of the mag, but these technological things confuse me... mutter, mutter. (Matt walks off to play with his advanced spheroid dexterity simulator (cup and ball to you!).)
What with the brilliant conversion of Salamander last month and Armalyte (nicknamed Delta II) from Thalamus next month and Katakis right now, horizontal shoot-'em-ups on the C64 have entered a new phase of amazing quality.
The effort put into designing and programming Katakis is clear right from the very first game. Your ship's sprite is one of the best designed spaceships ever to grace the Commodore, though it has to be said the weapon which bolts onto the front gets gradually more cumbersome-looking as it gets more powerful. A huge variety of enemy ships and monsters are spread throughout the superbly detailed backdrops of the twelve levels (witness level two on the demo cassette). An awesome ship makes an appearance on one of the levels - first its metallic nose scrolls on to the scene and the rest just keeps on coming!
A whole screen full of beautifully-coloured detail - it's amazing! But let's not forget playability - Rainbow Arts certainly haven't! Katakis is easily on a par with any shoot-'em-up you could mention, and is the closest you can get to R-Type on a humble 8-bit. Need I say more?
There's no getting away from the fact that R-Type was a highly influential arcade game. It spawned a whole new graphic style and a few games started to include two-legged walker-type droids. Now we have a C64 game which is quite obviously very heavily influenced by the aforementioned coin-op. Yes, it even contains the ubiquitous walking robots.
The aliens are varied and well-drawn, containing lots of colour: the end-of-level guardians are particularly impressive - and damn difficult to destroy! The sound is abundant to say the least and the tunes are generally of a high standard (I'm sure I even heard a Christians riff in there somewhere!).
Perhaps I'm just being picky, but I can't help wishing that the main ship was a bit smaller, as it sometimes gets a little hard to steer round the obstacles, which are similar to R-Type in their deviousness.
Not surprisingly then, Katakis comes highly recommended to everyone who can't wait for the official R-Type conversion.
Every now and then, a game comes along without any hype or fuss and turns out to be something really impressive. Katakis (surprise, surprise!) is one of those. It's not exactly original but what it lacks in imagination, it makes up for in technical polish.
The graphics are large and colourful with plenty of alien sprites to inflict damage on you. The backgrounds are extremely impressive as well: every level looks completely different from the previous one. The twelve stages also have their own individual soundtracks which gives each of them a distinctive atmosphere. So now I've gone into the presentation, what about the game? Well, it's very good indeed! I soon got used to the craft's initially awkward control method and was quickly ripping the enemy to bits with a devious smile on my face (phwoar - violent, eh?). If you enjoyed playing R-Type in the arcades then play Katakis. It's grrreat, man!
One or two player option, but the multi-load may mildly annoy cassette users.
Varied aliens and backgrounds with particularly impressive guardians.
Plenty of blast and crash noises and a different tune for each stage.
Should lure as strongly as similar arcade games but some blasters may find the going tough.
Twelve diverse levels to keep you glued to your joystick.
At present, the best R-Type variant on the C64.