The official Atari-approved version of the popular arcade game. "Insist on the original version, accept no substitutes," shouts the inlay of Battlezone. Very little other detail is given on the inlay (although the loading screen helpfully informs you that instructions and keyboard controls will be given immediately after the auto-run demo). What has happened to the justly famed Quicksilva absurd scenario? Is this lack an indication that Atari didn't approve or a case that under their new masters (ASP) Quicksilva have taken a turn for the serious? In any event it seems a shame, and an indication of Atarian sluggishness, that one of their most popular arcade games should be converted to a home micro in time to be at the tail end of a whole series of similar games.
Battlezone surely requires no introduction (serious one that is). The Spectrum version comes complete with tanks, flying saucers and missiles and uses the keyboard to simulate caterpillar track movement, which is to say that the two top quarters control forward movement on left and right tracks, while the two bottom quarters control reverse movement on left and right tracks. This means that you can move forward or backward in a straight line, turn slowly or spin faster on the spot by using opposed quarters diagonally. The screen display shows a mountainous backdrop (including an unanimated volcano) with a few objects here and there which may be used as shields. Above the viewscreen is the radar, an indication of enemy to the left or right, whether the enemy is In range, and the score lines.
Control keys: Left track: 1-5 & Q-T forward - A-G & CAPS-V reverse. Right track: 6-9 & Y-P forward - J-ENTER & B-SPACE reverse, with zero to fire
Keyboard play: Layout works well, positive
Use of Colour: Just green and purple
Graphics: Quite good line graphics, reasonably smooth
Sound: Continuous, above average
Skill levels: One, with some progressive difficulty
Atari have let Quicksilva do this official version. It's a good version, but there are already good versions available. I feel all Battlezone fans will have already got a good version of this; and as this is no better, there is hardly any need to get it. On the other hand, if you haven't got one yet, then you couldn't go far wrong here. I found this version to be rather playable.
Finally an Atari game for the Spectrum, but it's only Atari-approved, not Atari-made. The graphics are up to the arcade original standard, and the colours are the same - so making it a little dull to look at. The game features some nice touches like when the credits appear at the beginning of the game. This is a good 'Battlezone' game but I still feel Realtime's Tank Duel is better, containing better colour and detailed backgrounds which this game lacks - and this one's more expensive too. Overall - good, and the real McCoy.
Wire-frame graphic games either turn you on, or they don't. There aren't all too many variations on the theme and there have been quite a few already on the Spectrum, so it seems odd to me that Quicksilva should have chosen to release this, the officially approved version of Battlezone, right now. As a game on its own merits it is a good one. I like the fact that the tanks etc. appear as soon as you have destroyed the previous one - there's none of that hanging around waiting for another target.
The game also builds up nicely with the first few tanks being easy to hit, but they get cleverer and nastier as time goes by. The graphics are neat, if uninteresting looking, and they move smoothly enough, though not always fast enough for my taste. Yes, it's a good version but its Official stamp from Atari doesn't do anything special for it.