Dragon User

Lucifer's Kingdom

Author: Mike Stott
Publisher: Orange
Machine: Dragon 32

Published in Dragon User #063

By No Means Just Your Average Zap

The picture on the cassette box is just like the title of this game - very misleading, as it shows the horned head of a demon. At first glance, this appears to be another space-type shoot-em-up game (and is even described as such on the cassette inlay) but this is very far from the whole truth.

Although my two sons (and even myself when I first played it) treated it as a pure zap-'em game, this should be played more like a graphic adventure game. By that I mean that you have to plan out your actions and not just necessarily shoot all the baddies.

There are other objects which can be shot, and greater scores can be achieved by destroying some of these things. The most important of these are the crystals which are placed under characters on the screen and gradually appear as the characters are shot away. They can then be collected by flying over them and a certain number are needed before you can progress from one region of six planets to the next.

One thing you cannot do however, is to forget about the baddies in your quest for crystals, as there are a variety of types of these which come at you in a variety of ways and also fire at you differently. My pet hate are the ones that descend straight down the screen until they reach your level and then come horizontally across at you, forcing you to retreat or move further up the screen - if you can! Others circle you Indian-fashion, firing at you as they move around.

Lucifer's Kingdom

Also if you are not quick enough to destroy one wave of attackers, then the next bunch swarm down upon you and they may or may not be of the same type. The choice of assaillant and the number of them appears to be random, and also seems to have been generated in a way different from the usual poor Dragon randomiser.

If your ship is destroyed, then you start from that point and are not returned to the beginning, which I personally prefer. Beware, though, if you have not got past the last of the baddies which you were fighting when you were destroyed, as you will then be attacked by the same type again at the restart. Incidentally, you get five lives and I have not yet discovered a way of getting more, although you appear to have unlimited fuel and ammunition.

Only the very middle of the screen is used in this game, and not much of the rest is used for the score, etc. The movement is very smooth indeed, as is the scrolling and the speed-up poke has not been used to get the increase in momentum, just good programming. I was amazed at the response to the joystick in this game. Why isn't every game like this?

Lucifer's Kingdom

Some of the baddies come at you down the very edge of the screen and these cannot be shot, no matter how far over you steer your ship. At the end of each planet, which is not very long in the early stages, the game is paused while you receive your bonus points and normally I do not like breaks in the middle of games, but believe me you need one!

It would not surprise me if this game caused some controversy in the manner of Fire Force about bugs, as at times it appears that you have shot straight at the enemy without harming it, but this is caused by parts of the terrain which can be shot over and over again, amassing points, but which reverse as you hit them: the first time, you can fire through them at the enemy, but not when they have turned round. Also there is a slight problem in the fire button on the left joystick, which is the one that you use in this game, will fail to work when the right joystick is connected to its own port. At times there is so much happening on the screen that you may not notice some of the enemy bullets which come in all directions.

Also some bullets appear to be directed out of nowhere, and not really from the baddies. You'll see what I mean when you play it. Another thing which throws me is that it says "Player 2" in the top left hand corner of the screen with your score alongside it, and as yet I have been unable to access a two-player game as an afterthought. All in all, this is a game which I really enjoy playing, and will also be enjoyed by those of you who like pure zap games. Many people will say that it is too similar to Utopia, but I have found that the two games need completely different tactics, and enjoy playing both.

I would have liked to have given this program five Dragons, but hesitate to give the maximum to a game I have not yet completed. If the rest of the game reaches the same high standard it is certainly worth five.

Mike Stott

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