Sinclair User24th June 1987
Published in Sinclair User #66
Quite what the connection between the bearded boys of ZZ Top and the new game from English Software is, I don't know.
But a connection there obviously is because the blurb says that Leviathan is based on the video for Rough Boy. Why?
The other thing that confuses me is the title. Where's this big ship that's referred to in English Software's ad for the game. I couldn't find it. Literally. Quite frankly, your craft is so small, it's in danger of disappearing up its own existence.
About the only thing Leviathan-like about the game is its overall size - it comes in three Loads. The main game and two alternative landscapes.
Still, no matter. There are some other big things in this game. One of them is the booming 128K soundtrack, which is quite definitely not ZZ Top, for which, I suppose, we can all be profoundly grateful. There is also a big, Oh-My-God-What's-Going-on-now factor.
Leviathan is a Zaxxon-style diagonal scrolling game. Now, they're not my cup of tea, I must admit, but I can live with it. What I find a little more difficult to live with is the puniness of my spacecraft, and the enormity of everything else.
As the screen scrolls huge chunks of what appear to be a wrecked planet come hurtling towards you. They can't be that wrecked though, because most of them appear to have some sort of installation on the surface, radars, rocket launchers, and large glass domes, the purpose of which is surely merely to be flown into.
Pretty soon I discovered it's simple to avoid these features. Simply use the joystick of your choice to raise your ship above the height of the highest tower, and fly right over them. Simple, safe and boring. You can't hit anything, but then again, they can't hit you. So where's the game?
It's just a case of flying about and dodging around them. Which should be easy, providing you have good reflexes.
Apart from the problem, that is, that because your ship is so small, and in the same colour as the background, you just can't see it.
Flying blind through a missile base is not easy. You're more than likely to fly straight up a glass dome. Or a piece of falling masonry. Yes, you can actually get to choose what kills you. By using the multi-load landscape facility, you are able to produce two further areas in which to die. These consist of a landscape, and a Greekscape (lots of aliens in skirts drinking retsina?) it's particularly bizarre, featuring large statues with spaceships whizzing in and out.
As well as a variety of inanimate objects to avoid, there's the odd spaceship to contend with too. Alerted by warning radar-like beeps, you find yourself suddenly in the midst of a swirling mass of enemy craft. There are ten assorted aliens to choose from, not that you get much choice, it has to be said. Some are on the round side, and some come in a fetching pyramid shape. All of them are, like you own ship, hard to spot, and again, it's all too easy to end up flying straight into someone else.
I'm not quite sure what to make of Leviathan. Why do people spend a lot of time concocting a brilliant soundtrack, complete with warning bleeps, echoing bullets and sinister, thumpety-thump music, and leave all aspects of gameplay to a "close you eyes and pray you’re lucky" sort of situation? Why can't I find it in my heart to like Leviathan?
It's not en easy game to get worked up about. There's very little sense of challenge and games which appear to rely on luck rather than skill to win through don't give me much entertainment.
I'm sadly disappointed that Leviathan has little more to offer than prettily decorated chunks of rock. And as a Zaxxon clone its a pretty poor show.
Zaxxon like, with a great soundtrack, but not a lot else. Any game inspired by ZZ Top has to be a bit suspicious.