Rival Gangs
By Zxpresh
Spectrum 128K/+2

Published in Crash #8

Rival Gangs

Sometimes us Speccy fans have wild and vivid dreams. We dream that some of the biggest, most iconic games post 8-bit era are released for the Speccy and they look and play brilliantly. "Why didn't they do this earlier?" we thing, whilst we plough 100 hours of the week into the Speccy versions of Flashback, Desert Strike and Grand Theft Auto. Unfortunately, we then wake up and realise it was just a dream. Boo. But alas, what is this now? GTA? For the ZX Spectrum?

I thought that was just one of my wild and crazy dreams? Author of Rival Gangs, ZXPresh, must have had the same dream as I but as they actually have some programming skills, they've actually done something about it and have seen what the Speccy can do with one of the most successful franchises of all time. Quite the task. Have they pulled it off?

Paul Davies

Rival Gangs is based on the original Grand Theft Auto with its top-down view of the city, as you navigate roads, vehicles, paths and buildings seeking out members of the other gang, with both of you looking to take control of the city. There are two gangs looking to get a stranglehold on the place - the Chameleons and the Darksiders, either of which you can pledge your allegiance to at the start of the game.

Rival Gangs

Choose your side and then you're into the game, with your character awaiting instruction. Starting with no weapons of any sort, it's down to you to go rummaging through the city's streets on the lookout for any guns that may have been left around. Find a gun and it's time to go hunting down those Chameleons or Darksiders, depending on which gang you decided to join or depending if you just want to go rogue and shoot anyone that comes into your path. Always adds to the fun, I find.

If you're lucky enough to find a rocket launcher hidden away, then this adds to the fun and excitement tenfold. Not enough games with rocket launchers, if you ask me.

The game uses flick screens as you make your way around, and this works well. Cars go about their business as you do the same, but don't think for a second that they're going to stop for you - oh no, get that idea out of your head. One step in front of a car and... SPLAT! Time to start again.

Looks wise, the game is pretty well detailed in its buildings and roads and it's quite a bright looking place. One slight criticism is that the main character sprite can sometimes blend into the scenery and another one is that it can be quite difficult to differentiate between you, your gang members and the opposing gang members. This is down to there only being the outline of the sprites differing from each other and I found myself having to either move myself into the road to see my character clearly or waiting for the other members to do the same.

Nevertheless, it's still a fun game which has a few elements from GTA added including being able to hijack the odd car or two. There are one or two crucial elements missing, though - being able to get fisty when you're lacking a weapon would be handy, and a few side missions would be great additions.

It's worth noting that this version of the game was finished early in time for it to qualify for the ZX Game Dev last year, with ZXPresh stating that they will soon be working on a full version which will contain missions to complete and a few other additions. How many and what those additions will be in the next update will determine how great a game this can be.

Rest assured I shall be keeping an eye on developments. As it stands, it's a pretty decent, if not simple, GTA clone, but this could become something a lot bigger should the correct tweaks be made.

Gordon King

We have a rather admirable homage to GTA here, with car-jacking and killing sprees basking in gratuitous glory. Although its LoFi graphics nicely make it even more retro looking, like a pre-'85 title, your main character blends in with the background too much, and you can't see what's going on. Then I remember I have Turbo Esprit to play.


Control Keys: Q, A, O, P, M & SPACE.
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor.
Graphics: Nice and bright throughout though character sprites could do with better definition.
Sound: Minimal but does the job.
General Rating: Currently a nice little game to satisfy your violent tendencies, but hopefully the next update will satisfy us even further. I don't just live for violence, honest.

Paul Davies

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