Is Tony Takoushi a two hit wonder? His previous C16 games, Hyperforce and Starburst, were hot stuff, so I had high hopes for Frenesis, but I have to say it's more than a bit disappointing.
Fenesis features the same eye-boggling psychedelic graphics which owe much to the great guru Jeff Minter as its two predecessors. The gameplay has the kind of Neanderthal simplicity that makes noughts and crosses look complicated. A cross occupies the centre of the screen running right the way across from top to bottom and left to right.
You must protet the cross from waves of attacking aliens which scream towards it from all sides of the screen. You do this with the aid of a long bar called a Statron, which I seem to recall made more than a fleeting appearance in Takoushi's other games.
The Statron bar is composed of pink arrows which scroll in the direction of travel. So if you move it across the screen from left to right the arrows point right. That's quite important because the Startron will only destroy aliens if the arrows are facing opposite their direction of travel. So if you push the joystick up, the arrows will be facing the top of the screen and you can destroy descending aliens, push it down to get the ones coming from the bottom and so on.
The idea is to wipe 'em all out before they get anywhere near the cross, the reason being that every time that happens a new alien is created. If you let it happen too often, before you know where you are there will be more aliens that you know what to do with, and you can say goodbye to one of your three Statrons.
There are a few frilly bits. Some aliens take more than one clout with the Startron before they lay down and die. On the higher levels things that are called, and look like, plungers make a dash for the cross. If they make it, that's another two aliens to deal with. Smart bombs, of which you have an unlimited supply on the higher levels, destroy everything in sight, but they only buy you time, they don't kill aliens for good.
That's all I can tell you about it because that's all there is. You sit there shifting the joystick up, down, left, right, in an inevitably futile attempt to stop everything in sight reaching the cross, chasing a target number of aliens which is increasing all the time.
It's frantic (frenetic?) all right. But it's about as interesting as trying to fill the bath with the plug out. There really isn't any point to the game at all. After five minutes or so of actually trying to do something intelligent, like anticipate what was coming from where and when was the best time to hit it, I gave up and opted for wiggling the joystick like a loony. To my complete and utter non-amazement this second tactic was much more successful, at least on the first four levels.
Taking this theory a stage further I put the joystick in the washing machine which achieved a high score of 367,551. If anyone else finds a domestic appliance that can do better, I'd be interested to know.