Electron User


Shark

Author: Martin Reed
Publisher: Audiogenic
Machine: BBC/Electron

 
Published in Electron User 6.01

Shark is one of two new titles from Audiogenic, the first this year. The scenario is typical - the bad guys have invaded in force and you, Colonel Charles St John Sharkey, nicknamed Shark, are the only hope. Will you take on this dangerous mission to rid the world of enemy agents? Of course you will.

It turns out to be a multi-screen wargame very much in the mould of Stryker's Run - you dash across the screen left to right blasting away at all and sundry, and when you near the edge the screen flicks to the next.

You can jump around the screen from object to object so that one moment you may be running along the ground and the next precariously balanced edging along an iron girder.

Shark

There are a number of different sections: Jungle, barrack square, town streets and more. Each sector is immediately distinctive - in the jungle you can run along the ground and through clearings, and jump on to giant blocks of tone and large tree branches.

In town you can leap from window ledge to window ledge, the roofs of houses and so on. Clever use of dithering - mixing the pixels of different colours to give the appearance of new colours - adds to the overall effect.

You certainly need to keep on the move and your finger on the trigger as an endless stream of foot soldiers bears down on you. Luckily, your machine gun makes short work of them. The trucks and helicopter gunships are far more robust, and consequently much more dangerous. The latter home in on you, dropping bombs all the time. The trucks drive at you while the occupants lob grenades.

Shark

You must shoot both the helicopters and trucks several times before they burst into flames, but the danger does not stop there - you now have to contend with an armed and understandably furious pilot or driver charging you on foot. Contact with anything that moves is fatal.

Some useful bonuses are on offer if you can get to them. Killing certain foot soldiers lets you retrieve their backpacks. Collect them to find a machine gun, extra lives, temporary invulnerability and so on.

The game features some nice touches - the keys can be redefined and the colour schemes altered to make viewing easier if you are using a black and white TV or monochrome monitor. The pause/restart, quit and sound on/off options are all present and correct.

One drawback lets the game down, and that's the lack of accuracy when detecting collisions. Many a time I have side-stepped an enemy solider or seen a bomb land well short of me only to find myself disappearing in a puff of red smoke. It is an irritating flaw in an otherwise highly enjoyable game. However, you do get used to it and it's not that much of a problem - just give everything a fairly wide berth.

The screen display is excellent and the Mode 2 - unusual for the Electron - multicolour graphics are well defined, although there is a strip of garbage along the bottom of the screen like Superior's Citadel and one or two other games. You won't notice it after a while.

The speed is excellent too, making it a fast-paced and exciting game to play. There's no music but the sound effects are reasonably good with a rat-a-tat when you fire your gun, and a wheee... when a bomb or grenade heads your way.

Shark is a simple and bracing shoot-anything-that-moves-before-it-gets-you type of game. Colonel Sharkey will certainly win his fair share of devotees, especially among those seeking a hero to inherit the mantle of Commander Stryker.

* * * Second Opinion (By Janice Murray) * * *

At first I thought this was much too hard - just one hit by a stray bullet and you bit the dust. However, with practice I soon got the hang of it was addicted in no time at all. If you're after a good blast you can't go far wrong with this little beauty.

Martin Reed

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