Publisher: Image Works
Machine: Commodore 64/128

Published in Zzap #51

A nightmare come true


Scared of snakes? Scared of spiders? Scared of being scared? Well, tough cheese, wimpy pacifist you're about to meet all your deep-rooted fears in the biggest mega-battle yet. It seems the Galactic Emperor has gone and got himself captured by some 'utterly evil' dude by the moniker of Phobos.

The old Emperor has been locked away in a sun and is slowly beginning to cook on Gas Mark 4, to reach him you have to collect together all nine pieces of a heat shield to wrap around your fancy ship.

Where are they, you cry? Well, we've located the solar system where Phobos hangs out and somewhere on nine of the fifteen planets are the pieces you want. Good old trial and error is the best way to find them but try not to pick wrong - the planets are fiercely defended. Apparently Phobos has built some clever device which latched onto your brain and infested each planet with a different type of phobia. Your very own nightmare has come to life for you and a friend as well - if you can find someone mad, er brave enough to join you.


The one bit of good news is that the alien minions of Phobos are as dumb as usual, carrying extra weapons around with them which you can pick up when they die. Just pick up more powerful engines, lasers, bombs and more and you'll soon be headed Phobos' way. If you're going on your own we will, out of generosity, give you a drone ship. I'm not too sure you'll be pleased to hear that the drone is linked power - wise to your ship. Basically, if it gets hit, you die - tough, but that's life.

Hope you like tight, closed spaces, dentists and Death - you're going to meet them all. Anyway, who said space combat was straightforward? I did? You must be mistaken mate, now get out there and wreak some havoc.


Tony Crowther returns to grass roots with what must rank as one of the oddest games this side of Jeff Minter. I wouldn't call the graphics horrific or disturbing, maybe even the Amiga isn't capable of that, but at least Tony and David haven't skimped on quality and variety in the aliens.


The multiple-level parallax scrolling really does work well and each new, multi-loaded level is a real adventure. It all really opens up with the dual player mode and makes for one stunning but very weird shoot-'em-up.


If, somehow, Phobia lacks your greatest fear then be warned, the superb gameplay is likely to give you the shivers. On the later levels, survival seems virtually impossible. But high playability, and great graphics, are likely to keep you playing. Probably the most impressive planet I've seen so far is Death, which is packed with gruesome touches such as skeletons popping out of coffins, guillotines crashing down and decapitated heads turning to skulls as they chase you.

Not even the dead could fail to love this one!



Presentation 86%
Great dual player mode and an attractive in-game map. Disappointing title page though.

Graphics 90%
Not as gory as it might have been but it uses colour to maximum effect. Great space sequences, highly original mother aliens, technically excellent parallax scrolling and with more varied and colourful sprites than there are shoot-'em-ups on the market.

Sound 80%
Spot effects provide work effectively together with an intriguing set of background 'murmurings' changing with each level. There's no title tune to speak of but a strangely absorbing rhythmic beat.


Hookability 91%
Great presentation and relatively simple gameplay make for high instant appeal.

Lastability 90%
Fifteen players which get tough real quick - even in two player mode it's very hard going but still totally addictive.

Overall 92%
A superlative shoot-'em-up chock a block with colour, graphic detail and scarifying levels.