K-Tel, known best for their good value records, have done much the same with computer games now, that is, taken older games and packaged them two to a cassette under the heading of "Double Sider". Side 1 here is Alien Swarm, a game from early last year put out by Titan. It's a very straight forward shoot em up with a laser base and various alien forms, swarming down the screen in attack waves of 50. Every few aliens shot, there is an update sheet which tells you how many remain. When they are all shot you move onto another type. Some are bombs, some drop bombs.
Arena by Steve Curtis, is somewhat more original. You have been captured by a race of aliens who, like the ancient Romans, enjoy gladiatorial combat, and you are in the arena. From all directions come comets, aimed at you and bouncing off the walls to come back again. You are armed with a deflector shield for protection and deflecting the shots not only saves your life but also gains you points in what is a no-win situation.
Control keys: Alien Swarm, Z/X left/right, SPACE = fire: Arena keys are user-definable, rotate and move left/right
Joystick: Arena, most types via user-definable keys
Keyboard play: responsive
Use of colour: poor to fair
Sound: average, nice effect in Arena.
Alien Swarm is a pretty typical shoot em up with drawbacks. Movement is restricted when firing quickly and the game lacks imagination. The graphics are fairly good though. Arena is very original and I enjoyed it on that level. The shield can be moved from side to side, above and below and your man moved right to left as well. It all goes quite fast and is improved with the skill and speed levels. Top marks for originality but not very addictive.
Alien Swarm is quite a good game, but very simple and in the end rather boring. Arena can be fast, and is the best K-Tel cassette but it's still nothing to shout about. I think they'll have to do better games than this to stay around in this field.
I remember Alien Swarm quite well, and wasn't all that knocked out by it when it was new. There are so many better shoot em ups around, both older and newer ones. Arena is quite a lot of fun to play, especially as you can combine seven skill levels with nine playing speeds. The higher the skill level, the more there is in the air against you. At the same time, the more successful you are, the more the side walls move in to grab you in a smaller area. The idea of 'double siders' is hardly new, Abacus almost always give you two programs on one cassette, and those are usually original in concept.