Amstrad Computer User1st December 1986
Published in Amstrad Computer User #25
Hello there. Mind if I join you? What're you having, Syrian Panther Sweat? A wise choice. One of the few bars on this godforsaken planet that serves a decent drink. What? Oh, I'm just off the Cerberus. Ah, you've heard of it. Quite a history. Quite a ship. No, I wasn't on it in those days. All that crew are rotting away on Dracona or, if they were very lucky, they're so much glowing plasma.
You know the story, I suppose. I heard it from a grizzled space rat on Bongaigner V who claimed to have been in one of the attacking Starfleet police ships. He could well have been telling the truth it's a big galaxy and he was an old hand. Only had an old hand as it happened. The other was a cyber-police issue. That's why I almost believed him.
Don't mind if I do. Ahhh, can feel it doing me harm. So you want the facts about the old Cerberus. The story goes that it was doing the Arcturus Aur iae run when the pirate band got hold of it. Seems she blew a tube and dropped into n-space when Roland's Rascals were happening by. She wasn't armed then, and couldn't fight. Couldn't run, either. The pirates had that big drydock in those days, some hulk they converted to a repair yard. Two years later, they had made Cerberus one of the fiercest fi ghting ships in this quadrant. Flagship she was.
What Roland didn't know was that she had been made a trap. Some of Cerberus crew had joined the pirates, they were StarPol agents.
All those weapons they were rigged. Time came when Rol came across a crippled, defenceless freighter. He ran towards it, lasers almost melting. The rest of his fleet did some melting too. They drifted out of range, and joined the StarPol grouping. Think of it-three hundred ships for one man. They wanted him, and badly.
Rol realised something was wrong when the crippled freighter warped out from under his nose, and those blipls came up on the gradar. Of course, he called his fleet - it wasn't there. He was on his own, with the Cerberus and two lasers. The smart bombs were all but useless,
Into the attack came the StarPol 'stellars. They swooped down towards the Cerberus thinking it would be an easy kill. They reckoned without Rol. Time after time they came into the attack. Time after time he repulsed them, wiping them out with just the two lasers. Then the 'pols sent in the meteorites. Rol, he just stood his ground, and blasted them out. No, I didn't think it was possible either, but he did it.
In the hold, his crew was trying to fix the smart bombs. Rol held out long enough, shot enough ships, for them to fix a few more. The battle continued for days, that old rat said. As fast as StarPol poured in the ships, Rol blew them away.
They caught the ship at last of course. No, Rol wasn't on it - he'd ejected Seldon knows where. Rumour has it he's somewhere out on the Rim, teaching some backwater about comptech. And the Cerberus, well they auctioned it off. And now it's back on the trade routes. I must be, too. Oh, okay.
Just one more. Now have you heard about Ruh-dehls? Makes this panther sweat taste like... Let me tell you...
This can only be an Amstrad game. The great graphics, mega-impressive on an Arnold, wouldn't raise an eyebrow on the Commodore 64 where the weak spriteish movements and the minimal plot would be laughed to scorn.
On a Spectrum the graphics couldn't be done anyway and the action would be derided by anyone who'd ever played Hungry Horace.
So an Amstrad natural. I could forgive a lot for those pretty little pixels, but not this much. Not quite.
When this month's games plopped through the letterbox at ACU Towers I thought that Cerebus was the good game from Players and the others would be miff.
Although this is reasonable it's not a patch on Guzzler. And if I told you that holding down the keys K.E.V.I.N would make you indestructible it would ruin the game. So I won't.
Players has obviously gone overboard on the graphics. Loverly they are, too-subtle shades of colour, explosions that exhilarate and a mothership that's as detailed as a real arcade game. They must have spent weeks on these graphics. They've spent as much as five minutes - tops - on the gameplay. It's worse than Space Invaders, where you at least get more than four enemy vessels on the screen at once. Time and time again you get four (beautiful) ships wandering about the screen. Shoot them before they shoot you.
C'mon guys, it's just like using the Mona Lisa as kleenex.