This game is brought to you by the programmer of Spindizzy, Paul Shirley. It's a departure tor him to be producing a budget game, but it has all the hallmarks of a really good software author. This game has less thinking and more zapping than his previous efforts, the aim being to ZTB, Zap The Bad Stars.
The Bad Star empire has attacked your home planet of Crys-cit in an attempt to subjugate your race, the 'genocide' of the title. Another attack is expected and which could occur at any time. The citizens of Crys-cit have decided to counter attack with a small strike force so that the Bad Star empire is crippled and unable to attack. You have been chosen to undertake this mission.
The game is similar to Lightforce in that it's a downward, vertically scrolling, shoot-'em-up, in which you fly over (and sometimes under) the landscape in your spaceship. Your ship can move up down, left and right, but you'll spend most time at the base of the screen as the aliens come in from the top.
Your ship is armed with two basic types of weapons which are lasers and missiles. The lasers are vised to shoot the aliens and the missiles to destroy ground-based targets. Lasers are fired by holding the fire button down or auto fire can be selected by pressing space. This allows you to concentrate on firing your missiles at the ground targets.
On the surface of the planets are gun batteries which shoot out in several directions at a time. Later levels have batteries that fire homing missiles which are even tougher to dodge. The batteries can sometimes be destroyed by firing missiles at them, but many are invulnerable.
The surface of the planets are littered with silos. When a silo is hit by a missile, it opens to reveal its contents. These can be a help or a hindrance and include glue, black holes, missiles, lasers and shields. They're picked up by flying over them which isn't always easy with the attendant alien attackers. The Astro-Glue is needed to stick the weapons to your ship. The black holes however do the reverse and make the weapons fall off. The missiles and lasers increase your firepower and the shields stop you from being destroyed until they themselves are destroyed by a hit.
Every time you lose a life, you are moved back a little towards the start of the level, so you must redo the area where you died. Fortunately, you are not returned to the start of the level or it would be far too difficult. As it is, it gives you the chance to immediately re-learn the area where you died.
There are twelve levels to battle through and they all have a title which is displayed at the beginning at the level. The third level is called Taking the Urineium and has graphic similarities to Uridium from Hewson (not available on the Amstrad). Paul Shirley's humour is evident elsewhere as well, with levels like "Planet of Fruit" - zap the crops, and "I Don't Think They Like You". All twelve levels are different from each other with aliens of many varieties (or flavours). The aliens come in three basic formations: straight down the screen, zig-zagging and looping around. There are many small variations within that which make them tough to deal with, particularly when they're combined with ground batteries shooting at you. The scrolling of the screen is the smoothest I've seen and the scenery is detailed but lacking in colour. There's no animation or music, the sound is limited to explosions and tiring effects.
At the price, it is very good value although like most shoot-'em-ups you may tire of it. As shoot-'em-ups go, it's one of the best and you won't go far wrong with this.
Paul Shirley has obviously cracked the problem of vertical scrolling on the Amstrad and Firebird will be rewarded by having an excellent selling game. It doesn't offer anything new to the shoot-'em-up field but it's slickly produced and has plenty of long lasting enjoyment to offer.
Some levels are awkwardly coloured.
Complete three levels.
P. Superbly smooth vertical scrolling.
P. Well designed variety of sprites.
P. Zaps and bangs and nowt else
Grab Factor 82%
P. Lots of bad guys to blast at.
N. Similar to Lightforce and others
Staying Power 77%
P. Twelve increasingly difficult levels.
N. Gets repetitive.
P. A great shoot-'em-up at budget price.