Commodore User

Space Pilot 2

Author: Chris Anderson
Publisher: Anirog
Machine: Commodore 64

Published in Commodore User #29

Space Pilot 2

The game's 1984 predecessor, Space Pilot, was a conversion to the C64 of Time Pilot, a coin-op game which enjoyed a popular spell a couple of years ago. The idea was simply to service as long as possible guiding a small plane around a multi-scrolling screen blasting enemy craft, which began as biplanes and graduated through the time zones to futuristic combat jets.

Space Pilot 2, logically enough, is based on the more recent version of the arcade game. It is actually not much different except that the background has switched from a cloud-filled sky to a series of eight strange landscapes. Keep flying in any one direction long enough and they wrap around. But as the inlay warns, you shouldn't be distracted by their 'awesome, futuristic beauty' since they have no bearing on the action.

You have a view looking down on the action as your space craft moves over the scenery. You cannot alter its altitude or speed, only the direction it travels in. Using key control, there's simply one key to rotate left, one to rotate right and one to fire. (Use of joystick takes longer to adjust to. Moving the stick will cause the craft to rotate slowly until it is facing in the appropriate direction.)

Alien star-fighters of different varieties appear from the edges of the screen to attack you, both singly and in formation. You have the choice of blasting or avoiding, the aim simply being to survive each wave for two minutes. Each successive wave brings a new set of aliens, naturally more deadly.

While wave one is a doddle, wave two sees the introduction of heat-seeking missiles, which fly faster than you do and track you until either you or they are destroyed. In later waves these start to move at almost impossible speeds.

Graphically the game is a little sparse, apart from the irrelevant backgrounds. The sprites used for the various craft are run-of-the-mill. Sound too has nothing notable - some strange music clearly created by a programmer rather than a musician, and the usual whines, blasts and rumbles.

One poor feature is the excessively long pause at the start of each wave and each life. You're likely to do quite a lot of dying to begin with, and the waiting around is annoying to say the least.

It's hard to see this title winning a following outside die-hard addicts of the arcade game. Although competently done there isn't enough variety to make it more than just an average shoot-'em-up. I found it frustrating rather than addictive.

Chris Anderson

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