Personal Computer News9th March 1985
Published in Personal Computer News #102
This is one tricky little number. It's like a sophisticated Scramble - you pilot a small white jet around a dangerous cavern system.
The aim of Subterranean Stryker is to rescue as many humanoids as possible and destroy the underground enemy Power Crystal.
The caverns are mostly rocky corridors and space is very tight, especially when you've got mean alien cavern fighters after your blood. The game kicks off with your fighter hovering above the ground. First task is to rescue humanoids working on the surface, and then get underground. There's only one entrance, guarded by some vicious looking plants.
Sadly, you can't redefine the keys, but the ones used for up/down, thrust, reverse and fire are pretty ergonomic.
A cross-sectional view of the part of whichever of the five levels you're in takes up most of the display, with the ship always central. Below that is a small-scale view of the entire playing area of that level. From this 'radar' display you can sort them out - their movement is mirrored in the radar display.
These aliens (colourful jellyfish) are extremely nasty indeed. They don't all have entirely predictable patterns of movement for a start. They seem to follow a series of patterns of different lengths, so just when you think you've got one sussed, it breaks it and you're in trouble. Also, they fire tiny white dots, sure to hit anyone who hangs about and which give hot pursuit across several screens.
In the caverns there are many hazards, most of which end a life if you don't get your timing and manoeuvring absolutely spot on. Most are a bit samey, however, as the main theme is dodging between moving hazards blocking your way. There are large blue drops of some unpleasant liquid falling regularly, red wiggly snakes in Indian file (and not much space between them), armour piercing drills, unnameable pulsating monstrosities and so on.
Some of the hazards don't wipe you out but do sap your shield's energy as you can tell from the instrument display between the main view and the radar display. Also shown is the amount of fuel, number of lives left, depth, score and number of rescues. Fuel is replenished from fuel dumps, but getting at them isn't easy. In fact, getting anywhere takes time, patience and plenty of practice.
Rescuing the humanoids is easy - just get close by them and pop, they're on board. They're cleverly animated, regularly hacking away at the rock with tiny hammers.
Sound is limited, except at the beginning of a session when it is quite amazing - you'd think your Spectrum has a couple of voices and sound shaping. The only other slight let-downs are the flickering of the plane as it's updated, and the background scrolling leaves a little to be desired. So, whether you're a fan of the type or just into good games, buy it.