Automatic defences have got themselves a bad name in computer games from Citadel to Tau Ceti, causing more trouble than their long-dead owners ever did. In Marauder, they guard the planet Mergatron, and its incredible treasure - the Jewels of Cyzmandius. You aim to return this stolen property to its rightful owners with the aid of your battlecar.
The first level is set in the countryside, complete with palm trees, rivers and lots of defence hardware. A variety of electrohoverers home in on you, firing bullets while fixed defences fire bullets plus homing missiles. Beacons flash various colours and can be very useful: according to their colour when shot they give you extra smart bombs, lives, and temporary invulnerability. But beware: they can also jam your laser gun, reverse the controls, and take a life!
Level two takes place with the play area suspended over a parallax-scrolling floor below, while level three seems almost like a runway overrun with defence equipment. After this the scenery wraps around on the levels.
This is, of course, the very first product from the Turbo OutRun team of Mark Kelly and Steve Crow. But back in August 1988, Marauder met with disappointment (and 66%) from a Zzap! team accustomed to only the highest quality from Hewson. Gordon Houghton disliked the high difficulty level, while Paul Sumner complained about the lack of originality. At a budget price the presentation - especially sonics - becomes more impressive, but the gameplay remains disappointing. However, if you're the patient type and like to slowly work out an attack pattern against frustratingly tough enemies, this might be worth a look.