Vindicators (Domark) Review | Computer & Video Games - Everygamegoing


By Domark
Amstrad CPC464

Published in Computer & Video Games #90


At the last PC show, Domark pulled off a very neat deal with Tengen, Atari's coin-op division, and secured the rights to five of their newest games: Xybots, Toobin', Dragon Spirit, APB and Vindicators - which is the first to appear.

The Vindicators coin-op is one of my favourite arcade machines, and I've been waiting for the computer versions to appear in the hope that they're faithful renditions of the original machines. And I'm glad to say that the ST and Amstrad versions definitely are.

The game is set in the far future. The all-powerful Tangent empire is slowly and inexorably conquering the galaxy and the only thing between them and complete domination are two brave and heroic tank commanders, who have decided to take on the might of the whole empire single-handed.

The Tangent organisation is spread over fourteen different space stations, each one comprised of five levels. The objective is to enter each station and destroy its control centre situated on the fifth level. In the fourteenth station control centre resides the Tangent Boss, a giant squid-like monster that has to be blown away to save the galaxy.

At the start of the mission, one or two-player mode is selected. After that one of three starting levels is chosen, which has an appropriate points and star bonus awarded depending on the difficulty selected. I'll tell you more about stars in a minute.

When a level has been chosen, the action begins. The proceedings are seen in forced perspective 3D, a bit like Gauntlet, with the tanks moving up the screen blasting everything that moves. The screen scrolls vertically, and also horizontally if the play area is wider than the screen.

The stations are all well defended, with gun emplacements and enemy tanks infesting the landscape. All shoot at the intruders and attempt to ear down their fuel's supplies with repeated hits. The tanks can shoot back with their own guns and take out the opposition for points. On later levels super tanks, flying saucers, huge gun emplacements, mines and electrical barriers are incorporated into the defence system, making the going very tough indeed.

Stars are found scattered liberally throughout the space station, and can be collected and used to buy extra features for the tank - which are vital if the mission is to be completed (you can get up to 40 stars if you start on a higher level).

There are a wide range of power-ups, shields being the most useful. These lessen the effect of a hit - although are themselves depleted, requiring extra shields to be bought when they run out. Extra shot range, extra shot power and speed ups can be bought to increase the ability of the tank, as well as armour playing - the only thing missing is turret rotate, which is impossible to implement on computer.

Homing missiles and bomb cannons are available, a mere five stars for ten of each, and are very useful when you hit strong opposition. Homing missiles whizz around obstacles and corners to hit their target, while bomb cannons are heavy duty shells which decimate everything within the vicinity of its impact zone.

Stars can also buy warps to later levels - and give bonus points into the bargain.

Shields, bomb cannon, homing missiles and extra fuel capsules are also found dotted around the place, and come in very useful when times are tough.

To finish each screen, the tank commanders have to locate either a red or blue key, which open up the exit ports to the next level. So as soon as you've picked up a key, make a beeline for the exit. When both tanks are safely through, the score gained on that level is displayed, and extra fuel is added in relation to it, so the more you score, the more fuel is added to your supply. After that, the power-up screen is displayed so the players can buy extra features before the next level begins.

On every fourth level is found the control centre entrance, an orange building which the tanks enter by blasting a hole in the side. Once inside, the tanks are given a short time limit to collect any power-up goodies within and beat a hasty retreat to the exit before the whole place explodes.

The multi-limbed Tangent boss lives on the last level, and puts up one hell of a fight as he and the tank commanders slug it out in a final do-or-die confrontation. It's a tough fight, and be prepared for a rather nasty surprise...

The ST versioon of Vindicators is a stunning copy of the original machine, which looks identical and plays brilliantly. The graphics are first class, and I especially like the massive explosions, which give you a real feeling of destruction. All the sprites are smoothly animated and finely detailed, and the backdrops are of similar quality.

The gameplay is excellent; it's challenging, tough and very addictive, and the two-player mode adds that competitive edge to increase its lasting appeal.

Amstrad Vindicators is also brilliant, with great graphics, sound and playability combining to give one of the best games available on this machine.

If you want a stonking good blast, tank along to your shop and grab Vindicators.