Amstrad Action


Author: Bob Wade
Publisher: Electric Dreams
Machine: Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Action #14


If you read our preview a few months back, you'll know that this classic shoot-'em-up is my personal favourite from the arcades. This certainly can't be described as a faithful conversion, but it retains most of the elements of the original and the same mindless, but incredibly addictive, gameplay.

It's a completely abstract concept that takes you into the world of the wireways to face a deadly assortment of alien forces. These aren't the same as the arcade version and some have been renamed but there are also some nasty additions to keep you on your toes. The purist won't be entirely happy with the changes but there's still a fabulous game here.

The wireways are made up of 50 different types of grid and there are 99 skill levels but, once you're past level 10, things get very tough. Each grid has a number of lanes that taper away towards the centre of the screen, although the number of lanes, and therefore the ease with which they can be covered, varies with each grid. The grids either wrap around or have closed ends which you can't move off.


At the top of the grid is the spark which you control and this can move sideways across the lanes and fire a hail of bullets down them. The aliens come onto the grid from the bottom and try to advance to the top of it where they can run into the spark and destroy it. The types of alien depends on the skill level but on higher levels everything gets thrown at you.

The most basic of the enemies are the flippers which flip across lanes as they advance up the grid. These can appear on their own or by shooting spinning squares called tankers which will produce two of them. Fuseballs are spiky objects which move straight up a lane and have to be dealt with quickly. Pulsars are straight lines that behave exactly the same as fuseballs but are harder to see coming.

A completely new type of alien is the spinning fuseball, which is also released from destroyed tankers and spins around the grid very fast, spiralling upwards as it goes. The last feature is spikes that move up the grid leaving a trail behind, which remains if the head is shot. At the end of the level, the spikes grow upwards and you have to get the spark out of the way and to a clear lane before they reach the top.


You can get an admirably heavy rate of fire but you'll need it to deal with the hordes of enemies, and at times you'll have to be very accurate as well.

As a last resort you've got a super-zapper that wipes out the whole grid, but you've only got one of those per grid. You need to save this for as long as possible because it's the only way to get rid of aliens that reach the top of the grid. That's a design flaw which isn't present on the original but doesn't harm the action too much.

The vector graphics are quite nicely done although you do get screen slowdown when there's a lot going on. The colour and sound are reasonable, but to get the best from it you need to play in a dark room with a couple of stereo speakers turned up loud.


It's brash, it's mindless, fast and furious - you'll love it.

Second Opinion

This is the most mindless thing I've ever seen, and Hove it. The game just throws so much bad stuff at you so fast that desperately frenzied blasting is the only answer. Good movement and firing technique can help up to a point, but you'll get a lot further just hammering the keyboard like crazy. Bin your joystick and get zapping!

Third Opinion

A superb version of an arcade classic. No demands or the grey matter, great for the adrenalin.

First Day Target Score



Green Screen View

The grid can be very difficult to see on one or two levels, and that means you can get into real problems with pulsars. It's still playable, but do you really need this much frustration?

Good News

P. Good vector graphics and lots of them.
P. Fast and mindless blasting at all times.
P. A variety of nasty aliens to deal with.
P. Different grids requiring different approaches.
P. Becomes a really tough challenge.

Bad News

N. Not a faithful conversion - so fans of the original may miss some things.
N. Liable to cause extreme wrist cramp.

Bob Wade

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