By Psygnosis
Atari ST

Published in Computer & Video Games #87


The planet Draconia is an unnatural place. Created over the centuries by six of the most evil despots in the Galaxy, it has since been used as a base for some of the most infamous evil-doing in the universe. Your bosses have finally decided that enough is enough, but instead of sending in a massive battle fleet to finish the place off, they've opted to send you in on a solo mission - either they're pretty short of resources, or they're looking for a good way to get rid of you.

Draconia itself is composed of six left-to-right scrolling levels, housing up to 60 different alien types. Contact with these aliens depletes your shields, and no shields means no prizes as even the slightest contact is enough to destroy an unprotected ship. Each of the six levels leads to one of the demonic guardians - finish him off with a few carefully aimed blasts and it's off to the next, tougher, level.

Using this wonder of modern science, your ship has the ability to collect space debris and convert it into add-ons for your ship's systems and weapons. These add-ons are collected by picking up the space debris (well, icons actually) which appear when enemy formations are destroyed. These icons always appear as 1,000 point bonuses, but shooting them repeatedly upgrades them in the following order: Cannon, Laser, Speed, Outrider, Force Field and finally Shield Replenisher.


And that's just about all the game description that's really necessary - it's a simple 'shoot the aliens and collect the icons' type game with no real surprises. The options available to modify the game to each individual's taste include the choice of two game types: Novice and Expert. The only difference between these is that the scenery must be avoided in expert mode. Otherwise the usual options appear: sound on/off, effects on/off and a choice of joystick or mouse control.

So if Menace is such an ordinary game, why did I enjoy it so much? I'm generally of the school that believes that games released on the 16-bit computers should be programmed to the higest possible specifications.

Ultimately, however, the bottom line for a shoot-'em-up is playability - and Menace's is pitched perfectly. Menace is unlikely to win any awards for technical excellence of for the advancement of science, but it is a playable and addictive blast, with enough depth built in to make it last.

Ciaran Brennan

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