Missile Control, many games fans will be pleased to hear, is now available on the BBC. And what a great version it is, very close to the original arcade game and using all the BBC's graphics and sound armoury to good purpose.
The game allows between one and four players, in turn, to defend their cities from wave after wave of missile attack. It looks like a November fifth firework display as the player returns fire from the four missile bases, aiming to stop the oncoming missiles in their tracks before they can get through and destroy the cities or the bases themselves. The missiles burst in midair forming shimmering clouds (there is some clever use of flash rate here) and the enemy missiles leave red streamers across the sky.
Now and again an aircraft or satellite comes into view and can be destroyed for extra points. Scores are displayed at the top of the screen. If you make it to the high score table with your efforts then a tuneful little routine tells you about it and invites you to put down your gamer's nickname.
There's a demonstration mode to keep the eyes watering while you recover your concentration for another bash at the keyboard or if you prefer, joystick. The game displays no subtlety in its use of sound but that won't matter to anyone playing the game, i just pity all those families down the street watching their television or having a quiet evening in.
Every action in the game is accompanied by loud sound effects, firing, missiles bursting, direct hits, everything. Even when the game informs you of your current status as far as cities goes at the end of each screen, it does it with the clatter associated with a rusty old typewriter. When the game is complete and you have lost (how negative can you get?) 'The End' shimmers into the screen and out again accompanied by a yet more calamitous array of sound.
Missile Control is an exceptional game, simple in concept but impressively presented with flashing colours all over the place, exciting sound effects and non-stop action. Explosive clouds mushroom as craters appear and cities vapourise. It's the usual space fight fantasy brilliantly done.