Amstrad Action1st December 1986
Published in Amstrad Action #15
The new arcade label from Gargoyle, the masters of arcade adventures, has a lot to live up to. But if this first release is anything to go by, they look like succeeding.
It's a shoot-'em-up based on many a popular arcade game like Star Force and Xevious, where you fly over a landscape that scrolls down the screen and have to blast both ground and aerial targets.
There are four zones that you have to get through, wiping out every alien you can on the way, which repeat once you've completed.
The zones vary in features and aliens, but all of them will give you a hard time and a weary firing finger. The four zones are the asteroid belt, jungle planet, orbiting zone, and ice planet.
Your craft appears at the base of the screen but can be freely moved around it, both up and down as well as left and right. You'll find that most of the time you'll want to stay at the bottom of the screen where it's safest and just move up to avoid some aliens. There are two general types of landscape that scroll beneath the ship: floating structures in space and planet surfaces.
Your ship fires twin shots that provide a good field of fire when you hammer away at the fire button. These deal with targets on the ground and other ships, but some cannot be destroyed at all and just have to be avoided.
All of the graphics are superbly done. There's good scrolling, good use of colour, lots of variety and nice explosions.
The ships come in waves, while the ground features are in groups that usually contain a control centre. A bonus is given straightaway if you can destroy all the parts of a group, while another bonus is given at the end of a zone for all the waves you wipe out. The control centres are also important to dispose of because if you hit enough of them a bonus life is given at the end of the zone.
The ground targets all need two hits from your guns to destroy them while the other ships require either a single shot or can't be destroyed at all. That means you really have to work hard at the fire button to destroy groups, while the ships need faster reactions and more accuracy to deal with them.
The waves of ships are very varied in both appearance and behaviour, which means you need to become familiar with their patterns of attack. Some charge straight down the screen at you, others zig-zag or wheel across it. and some even homo in on you.
Collision with anything sends you up in a puff of smoke and puts you back to just before the wave that you died on. You're not at risk just from collision: the ships can fire bullets and even missiles at you - also fatal.
Bonus lives can be gained by destroying some groups where one of the targets will hide a smiling face. If you reveal it by shooting the correct target, another life is added to your initial five. These bonus lives are very important and if you can get all of them it improves your scoring chances greatly. If you score highly enough you can get hold of a shield which can be used several times to destroy everything on screen. You probably won't get one of those until you've completed all four zones once.
For some people shoot-em-ups are dirty words these days, but this one really brings them back to life. It's colourful, fast, compulsive, varied and tough - in short all the qualities a good shoot-'em-up needs. This one should keep you glued to the machine and strengthen your joystick hand and fire finger no end.
What can I say, the greatest shoot-em-up since sliced bread lies before me -I'm in heaven. Yes, you may have gathered, I have a slight bias for carrying out mindless tasks.
Light Force is beautiful: the graphics, the scrolling (albeit a trifle slow - but who's complaining?), use of colour, blasting satisfaction, depth, alien variety and 'give me another go or I'll blast you' appeal. Thoroughly recommended!
First Day Target Score
Green Screen View
Lost that one in the jungle scene, apart from that no serious worries.
P. Four very tough zones.
P. Great graphics, scrolling and colour.
P. Very varied aerial attack waves.
P. Ground targets as well as air.
P. Compulsive fast action.
P. You can rest in between zones.
N. Doesn't always respond well to the fire button.