Dominator logo

SYSTEM 3 £19.95 * Joystick

It is comforting to know that some things will never change: the Queen's speech on Christmas Day, Amstrad returning record profits for some quarter or other and Earth being attacked by hordes of nasty, slimy aliens.

No-one has yet produced a game based on the first two, so this must be a game based on the latter.

The aliens in question are a touch nastier and slimier than the average two-headed green-skinned jobs though, because they would actually like to eat Earth and its inhabitants! What is needed is someone to jump into a spacecraft and fly right into the mouth of the boss alien, to blast away at its vital organs. Fancy the job?

In case you had not guessed, it is a multi-stage, horizontally and vertically scrolling shoot-em-up (scrolls vertically for the first stage, horizontally for the second and so on). The idea is to survive each level by shooting at and destroying the waves of flying aliens (and ground installations later on) and avoiding crashing into the host monster's insides. Survive to the end of the level and you have to take on a guardian before moving to the next stage.

As you would expect, there are extra weapons to collect including rear guns and a time-based auto-fire facility, plus extra lives and smart bombs. The weapons are collected by flying over weapon icons that appear periodically. Fortunately, any extra weapons you do collect are carried from stage to stage, but if you lose one of four lives, you lose the weapons.


The backgrounds are well drawn and menacing, but the sprites are dull and uninspired. The collision detection is ever so slightly off, and on more than one occasion you will be shouting "That was nowhere near me!". As for sound: well, it is just as bad. The title music is fine but the effects are mediocre and surprisingly slow. Destroy a wave of aliens then stop firing, and for a moment you will still hear shooting. Dominator will not be remembered for graphics and sound.


Some would argue whether there is room for yet another shoot-em-up in the marketplace anyway, and others would argue that there is always room for a game that offers a good blast, especially if it has new features. What there is not room for is a game with no new features, that does not offer a good blast and has limited lasting interest. Dominator certainly qualifies on the last three.

Dominator logo

System 3
Price: £24.99

Amiga Dominator follows along the same lines as all the other versions gamewise. You know, hideous evil threatening to take over the galaxy, fly along numerous levels killing everything in sight and more besides. That is basically all there is to it, which is not a good sign.

There are one or two tricks up Dominator's sleeve, but nothing to really lift it, and what you are left with, unfortunately, is basically a better than average arcade shoot-em-up.

The first level has you flying upwards through some creature's innards. Waves of aliens fly down towards you, while little hands claw at you from the walls. Later levels have you flying left to right through various landscapes fighting all manner of strange enemies, from large floating foetuses, manic sets of molars and huge fire-spitting frogs.

To begin with, your ship is a pathetic little thing. Slow moving with a poor rate of fire, but that is somewhat rectified as you fly through the game. You collect tokens by shooting certain aliens, and these can either give you extra weapons, such as multiples or side-firing lasers, or speed-ups. However, these are few and far between, and also have the detraction of running out after a short amount of time.

So, that is the basic idea (or concept, as Mark Cale would have it), but what is the gameplay like? Not all that good, I am afraid. For a start, it just does not offer anything new. As a game design, Dominator falls well below standard. The library of good 16 bit shoot-em-ups is restricted to a handful of games, and this won't be an addition.

A game of this type needs more than good graphics to impress. Dominator lacks speed and, further any innovative features to bolster its appeal.

The graphics, in almost complete contradiction to everything else, are great. The sprites are sharply designed and the backgrounds are wonderful. All animated, eyes and mouths open and close, hands swing and small muscles open and close. The enemy sprites look great too, especially the foetuses. A sick idea but neat.

The sound on the other hand, is far from brilliant. In-game effects are dull and the explosion effect at the end of a level reminds me of nothing so much as the explosion sound when you destroy a base in Firepower.

Much as I hate to say it, Dominator is a disappointment. It promises a great deal but ultimately fails to deliver.

Dominator logo

System 3, C64 £9.99 cassette, £14.99 disk; Amiga £19.99

Out in deep space a hideous monster has evolved, the ultimate killing machine which destroys galaxies in mindless spasms of violence. Now it is heading to Earth, a planet brought to virtual collapse by the onslaught of an alien race. In the ruins people are determined to rebuild their former lives, and swiftly let lapse once formidable defences.

The last remaining pilot of a crack space unit views these decisions with disdain and refuses to part with the ship which carried him through so many battles.

When finally it is the turn of Earth to vanish in the maw of the monster it is this pilot who the government turn to, frantically offering any price for him to once more fly his Dominator spaceship into battle...

The first level is a vertically scrolling one, with a heart to be broken at the end of it. The graphics and gameplay are quite different on the C64 and the Amiga, with the latter sending you right back to the start whenever you die. The remaining three levels are all horizontal-scrolling, and have add-on equipment such as speed-ups, vertically-firing guns and lasers.

As you'd expect there's a wide range of aliens (including vicious tadpoles!), anti-Dominator gun turrets and end-of-level monsters. On the Amiga you go straight back to the start of the game if you lose all your lives, whereas on tape with the C64 you only go back to the start of the level.

Robin Hogg It's nice to see a challenging C64 game for once with a clever multi-load as well (get killed on a later level and you start from that level again). Smart graphics start the game off well with subtle colours and good sound effects although later levels aren't always so subtle (note the garish and odd colours on the second level). A tough game with good presentation but nothing to worry games in the Armalyte or Salamander league.
What is above average on the C64 is a major mistake on the Amiga with an infuriatingly sluggish ship, imprecise collision detection and average graphics lacking any extensive colour or variety. Below average is being nice to the Amiga version.
Stuart Wynne The marked difference between Amiga and C64 versions should mean good use of the host machines, but sadly this isn't really the case. The Amiga version is sluggish, graphically, unimpressive and, on level two, extremely difficult. Thankfully, the C64 version is much better, with reasonable graphics, better playability and slightly faster control response.