Amstrad Action1st December 1990
Published in Amstrad Action #63
Life in the Three Moons galactic system gets pretty boring. There is just nothing for the young folk to do. So, to combat this apathy, and to keep them out of trouble, the Queen has decreed that every year there is to be a competition.
Called the Olympic Crater Games, there are only ever two teams competing. One team is the Cyruls. These are unpleasant, drooling, malevolent beings who will stop at nothing to win.
The other team is you. On your own.
Over the years, the Games have assumed greater and greater importance. Nowadays, they're used to decide the allocation of the entire next years' planetary revenue. The Cyruls won last year, and they plundered the wealth of the Three Moons system to an embarrassing degree - greedy amphibians. So the royal pressure is really on for you to win this year.
You are wheeled out to a crater in the middle of nowhere, and left there. You are in a small skimming spacecraft type thing, armed only with a laser blaster. The Cyruls outnumber you by dozens to one. Their task is to manoeuvre round you. trying to collide with your little craft. You must use your speed, steering and laser to avoid these reprehensible reptiles. A radar screen on your instrument panel indicates the positions of all the alien weirdoes surrounding you. Other read-outs tell you your speed and the state of your shields.
You are attacked by waves of craft. If you destroy or avoid them all, you get a chance to pick up bonus points. There's a brief respite (about 1.7 seconds), then the next slimy lot attack. Each wave has a different attack craft, and each craft is better than the previous one. You usually end up reversing as fast as you can. and spraying the enemy as they try to keep up. Every so often you collect a useful weapon such as a faster laser, or a bomb. This evens things up for a while.
The Games take place on all three moons. There's the Desert Moon, the Forest Moon and the Icy Moon. Coincidentally, each has a crater which lends itself admirably to this sport. The progression of aliens on each moon is different, and skill level varies between moons too.
Kill all the squadrons of horrid nasties and an exit appears somewhere in the crater. Head out, unclench your fingers from the joy-stick, and move on to the next moon. Phew!
The game has been designed along the same lines as Sherman M4 (reviewed on page 66). It uses a similar 3D technique, but, happily, is much, much faster. You whizz across the crater at breakneck speed, and the nauseating alien craft ricochet around like shrapnel. They don't fire lasers; they simply try to hit you.
The graphics are fast. They work well, are solid, and move as smoothly as anything that quick can. Some of the later Cyrul craft are quite detailed, but still update rapidly. Your joystick skills will certainly be tested (almost to destruction), and your nerves will soon be shredded.
The sound is continuous. There is a variable engine note which serves to inform you of your speed, plus laser noises and explosion effects as the Cyruls cop it from blasts of your gun, or slam into you. Cool, space-aged tunes play during the high score table and at the intro screen. Both these screens can be called up from the main menu.
If you can't progress to the second or third moon during the Games, you can try them out using a training mode which dumps you on the rocky satellite of your choice. Useful for seeing what you'll face later (assuming you survive that long).
Moon Blaster, for all its polished speed, feels curiously out-of-date. It seems quite a while since a game required you to move around, unthinkingly blasting at noxious aliens, trying to kill as many as possible. It's basically a speeded-up Battlezone.
Your reactions will be honed, your trigger finger strained, and your brain unused. If that is what you want from a game, then hot-foot it out to the crater, and start killing.
About as much fun as it's possible to have watching variously-coloured polygons whacking around in a playing area the size of a letterbox. Which is to say, not much. Mindless blasting which goes on and on and on, with no variety. I didn't like it.
First Day Target Score
Survive two squadrons on moon one.
P. Big, fast, colourful 3D.
P. Fills the air with lasers and explosions.
Grab Factor 70%
N. Difficult. You'll need practice.
Staying Power 61%
N. Lots of blasting. Not much variety.
P. Pure arcade action.
N. Not for thinkers.