By Melbourne House
Spectrum 48K

Published in Computer & Video Games #77


How do you get into the lucrative arcade licence market without coughing up the obligatory telephone numbers of readies?

Easy: just start up your own arcade arm and convert the games yourself.

With such logic has Mastertronic entered the fray. Despite the modest smoke-screen of putting the game out on their Melbourne House label, Roadwars is just such a product. How well it has done in the arcades has yet to be assessed, but it certainly looked mighty impressive on the Amiga. It has many of the right ingredients mentioning "road" in the title (thus cashing in on the driving game craze) and having a two player option for those gregarious arcade types.


The player controls a Battlesphere moving down a roadway (the Battlesphere actually stays still and the road scrolls towards you, but it all amounts to the same thing). The sphere moves from side to side and the gun turret on top rotates.

To get to the next level, all the shaded blocks moving past the side of the road must be blown away but naturally the road is strewn with hazards. These include balls, spikes, laser barriers and hovering satellites.

The balls give the Battlesphere greater firepower if hit but things get really tough, the Battlesphere has the handy ability to do hedgehog impersonations and roll up into a ball. This protects it against most hazards.

One major problem can be the other Battlesphere that hangs around. If this is controlled by the computer, it plays a fairly passive role, but obviously if in the hands of another player, it can either be a help, knocking out threatening balls, or a real pain in the posterior, barging you off the road.

Converting this game onto the Spectrum has meant that a lot of the frills have gone. The multicolour graphics have become monochrome and the odd beep is no substitute for digitised sound.

Unfortunately, as so often happens, stripped of its gloss the game turns out to be nothing special at all. Once you've got the hang of the first few hazards, you have to go through half a dozen levels before anything new comes along.

The graphics are well drawn and smoothly animated and the whole package is very slick, but in the overcrowded market of shoot-'em-ups, this is not one that stands out.