Personal Computer News


Shuttlezap

Author: Jim Ballard
Publisher: Dragon Data
Machine: Dragon 32

 
Published in Personal Computer News #050

So Far As It Goes

So Far As It Goes

This is essentially Lunar Lander, with the added benefit of some speech.

Dragon's Shuttlezap is a mind-bending game that gives you a space shuttle to fly, your mission to grab as many hostile sputniks as possible, then return to safety on earth.

In Play

Shuttlezap

Another talking game, but there isn't really a lot to it. After an optional instruction session, you have a chance to master the joystick controls (a nice touch) before zooming off into space. The only remaining task is to specify your fuel and time limits.

Before take-off a countdown is given, but I found you didn't need to manoeuvre out of your silo base - you could fly straight through the walls. Your remaining fuel and time are displayed on screen throughout. Infuriatingly, there's no wraparound at the screen edge.

Objectives

Shuttlezap

Whenever you rejoin the screen, you always re-appear on the left and the sputniks always on the right. The shuttle will only fly left to right and the reverse thrust isn't sufficient to carry you backwards for any length of time. The result was that during my first attempts I'd end up more off the screen than on it.

The graphics were good but the same didn't really deserve them. Sputniks had to be approached cautiously as they were armed with a laser, but this could only fire horizontally. After some practice it was fairly easy to sneak up on (or under) them.

Returning to base was far trickier than leaving. By the time you returned from your mission - whether or not you'd bagged any satellites - a cosmic death cloud had enveloped the earth. The radar base station sends out a magic beam which clears a safe path for you. A fair amount of fuel is needed to keep airborne during this. Bringing the shuttle down proved to be the most difficult of all, and I found the joystick controls weren't as good as I thought they should be.

Verdict

The speech from the program was a considerable disappointment. The meanings for some of the commands could only have been guessed at. At the end of a high score game came "Burst sofa". After the laughter had died away, it was clear (because it was printed on the screen) it was saying 'Best so far'. Something you couldn't say about this high priced game.

Jim Ballard

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