Commodore User1st February 1987
Published in Commodore User #42
What's the first thing you noticed about this spread. Go on, admit it, it's taken you a good few seconds to get round to reading my review. You've been looking at those incredible screen shots, haven't you
Well, we don't mind one bit because we are pretty proud of them ourselves. It just goes to show that you don't just get the big game reviews first in CU you get them treated in a way that most ordinary mags can only dream of.
So how did we do it? Honesty prevents me from stealing all the credit for the CU team. Paul Winder and his team of screen dump experts stand up and take a bow.
So how is it done? They dump several scrolling screens with a full colour laser printer, get their scalpels out and paste them up onto a huge board, take a photograph of it and Bob's your uncle. Actually it's a lot trickier than that but the basic method is as described.
I think you will agree they leave ordinary screen shots for dead and you can look forward to seeing them cropping up in CU regularly.
OK, so what about this game?
Express Raider is a long-awaited coin-op conversion. Scrolling wild west arcade games have been around for a couple of years now and it is fair to say that they never exactly set the world alight.
Despite this - there is still a neat game idea contained within Express Raider.
According to the blurb the game is "just like classic wild west films of old, you will be in the thick of the action right from the start! Hold-ups, robberies and rooftop fights, Express Raider has them all!"
It certainly looks pretty impressive when you first load it as well - the train starts to chug out of a western town.
Immediately you find yourself fighting it out with a cowboy as the train pulls out of the station.
Forget using your sixgun here - this is a fight with fists and feet. The first thought is that this is a western-style beat-'em-up. Indeed, that description is fair enough.
An energy counter at the top of the screen records your direct hits on your opponent. When this reaches full, your opponent dies and you can hop on to the train.
You encounter various nasties on top of the carriages. There is a drunken bottle-throwing hooligan, a rifle man and several hoodlums who attempt to stop you from reaching the engine and grabbing the bags of gold.
If that doesn't sound difficult enough there are also bombs that are about to go off on the links between the carriages.
This time you are attacking the train on horseback, galloping alongside the hurtling train shooting it out with the passengers who are keen to protect their gold.
They appear from behind carriage windows and from the top of the carriages taking rifle pot shots at you.
This bit is tough. You need to keep the horse at just the right position up the screen to hit your targets.
The passengers are pretty accurate shots from some really acute angles. A stork flies over occasionally with a money bad in its beak. Shoot it for a bonus.
The object of the game is to get the gold. If you reach the engine you get two bonus bags - but there is also gold to be earned as you fight it out by shooting it as it is thrown at you by the desperate travellers.
The most challenging part of the game is the big bruiser who you encounter on Train 3. He pushes a huge pile of packing cases at you that you have to punch out one by one. Once you have cleared the bricks, the bearded brute charges you.
The graphics look interesting because no one has ever done a scrolling train before with such large sprites and incorporating the latest parallax techniques. Unfortunately they don't stand up to too close scrutiny. Very blocky, with the minimum of detail. It would have been nice to see some metallic effects included on the train.
Sound effects are OK but nothing to write home about. The train should have provided the inspiration for better use of rhythm. Hubbard could have gone to town on this one. On the plus side though, there is a nice whistle sound as the raider jumps from carriage to carriage.
A fun game to play. It will certainly prove addictive although its lasting appeal has to be questioned. It may be one of those games that - once clocked - are never played again. Could have been, should have been, a Screen Star - the quality of the coin-op licence deserved a better conversion than was done.