Fly Harder logo

Knapp zehn Jahre ist es her, seit "Thrust" zum ersten Mal am C64 auftauchte. Damals reichte die Idee trotz Magergrafik zum Hit, heute bewahrt sie selbst zeitgemäße Präsentation nicht mehr vor der Vergessenheit...

Dank Starbyte befehligt der Spieler also einmal mehr ein kleines Raumschiff, mit dem via Stick oder Tasten Energiekugeln aufgesammelt und über einem Reaktor wieder abgeworfen werden müssen.

So simpel die Aufgabe sein mag, so unendlich schwer ist sie hier steuerungstechnisch in den Griff zu bekommen: Als ob der ständige Kampf gegen den Sog der Schwerkraft nicht nervenaufreibend genug wäre, drehen sich die Gravitationsverhältnisse an bestimmten Stellen auch noch um, so daß man mit Volldampf gegen Wände, "Lasersperren" oder die zahlreichen Feinde kracht - anstatt zu bremsen, wie eigentlich beabsichtigt.

Das mag sich ja nun so gar als Absicht des Spieldesigns interpretieren lassen, daß jedoch die Tastatur von Anfang an gleichzeitiges Drehen und Schubgehen vereitelt, kann selbst der nachsichtigste "Thruster" nicht verzeihen.

Ja, selbst ohne Stick mit Dauerfeuer hat man keinerlei Chance, die fünf Schiffsleben vor der Altmetall-Halde zu retten!

Die Handhabung ist also trotz Level-Paßwörtern, veränderbarer Tastenbelegung und dreifach einstellbarer Gravitationsstärke bzw. Feindesaggressivität unter aller Laserkanone - schade, denn die flüssig in alle Richtungen scrollenden Grafik und der Sound (Musik/FX sind getrennt abschaltbar) wären gar nicht mal übel.

Doch es hilft alles nichts, Fly Harder ist lediglich der optisch hübsche Amiga-Klon eines 8bit-Klassikers, dessen ohnehin veraltetes Prinzip durch die neuen Schwerkraftverhältnisse nahezu unspielbar geworden ist. (rf)

Fly Harder logo

I don't know about you, but I was expecting Spruce Willis to be in this.

In case you're wondering, by the way, the reason we're giving a budget game a full page review is because (a) it's also an original CD32 game, (b) because it seemed too good not to get more space, and (c) because we felt like it. Okay? Anyway, on with the review.

It seems that due to recent staff changes, we're so old that we all remember Lunar Lander, the ancient Atari game based (quite unsurprisingly) on landing on the moon without crashing, exploding or otherwise scratching the paintwork. The basis of the game was that Newtonian physics were alive and well and that gravity can be a real pain in the bum sometimes, and both these features went on to appear in the fabulous Thrust and the classic Atari ST game Oids.

The thing is, the game's world like Hollywood - it hates to see a good idea go to waste, and would much rather repackage it, redesign it and put some bigger explosions in it. Which brings us neatly onto Fly Harder.

We're back firmly in 'Good guy/bad alien' territory, with the evil empire of Thargoid exploiting the planet's resources by fitting eight giant reactors in caves and buildings. Not the most credible story line, which is why we tend not to waste much time on them in our reviews. Your mission is to fly into these heavily guarded complexes and overload the reactors by dropping energy pods on them. Simple.

Well, no, not in ay meaningful sense of the word, for many things conspire against you. The most obvious thing is gravity, which constantly tries to splat you against the hard, unforgiving floors of the caves. Thankfully, your ship's got a powerful engine and a limited supply of fuel to keep it going.

Secondly, there's all manner of Thargoid gunners and flying things that get in your way, shoot at you and generally try and make sure your day is less than a nice one. Fortunately, your ship can take a fair old bashing before it blows up (shown by an energy bar at the top of the screen) and also gradually repairs itself, giving you a potentially long life span. To fight back, you've got a weedy gun for starters and various power-ups to pick up. Hurrah for high energy particle beam weapons!

The game just sneers and laughs at you

Finally, the energy pods that you pick up have an apparent mass greater than the ship. This means that once you've picked up a globe in your tractor beam, fired up the thrusters and shot off somewhere, you're going to stop a lot quicker than the globe is. It's all about inertia, you see, so while you may stop short of a wall, the globe will carry on and smash into it.

This turns the gameplay into a series of delicate manoeuvres, a sort of finesse-'em-up if you will, and it's this light-touch approach that makes the game so compulsive. Unfortunately, it also makes it practically impossible to play for the first hour or so, when the game just sneers and laughs at you as you blunder uncontrollably into force shields, reverse gravity generators and enemy spaceships.

Fly Harder doesn't have a learning curve - you can either play it or you can't.
Despite that, I simply love it to death, even though it's only got eight levels and even though I can only play it on the easiest level with the wimpiest gravity.

After a few hours you realise it's all about shooting switches to turn off various force shields, and that all the shooting aliens nonsense is just distractions, and every time I crashed, I just came back for more.

It's saved from being impossibly hard by the keyboard option, which gives you the precise control that a joystick doesn't, and the low price sort of excuses the low number of levels. Accelerating at a constant rate of 9.8 m/sec/sec has never been so much of a challenge.

Fly Harder logo CD32

Each month System will bring you the latest budget games for both the Amiga and the CD32. This issue, Tina Hackett explores Railroad Tycoon and flies into the future to the gravity space of Fly Harder.

Our second low-priced offering is an Amiga port-over for the CD32 via Krisalis' budget label, Buzz.
As a mixture between a blast-'em-up and a gravity-'em-up (let's call it a blastivity-'em-up for the sake of argument), the aim of Fly Harder is to find and collect energy spheres and drop them onto reactors.

The gravity element provides the difficulty here, and you're going to have to be pretty quick with the controls to manipulate your spaceship close to the spheres and then guide the spheres to the reactor. Having dropped all the spheres onto the reactor, you progress to the next level.

The story behind Fly Harder is that you are on an interstellar spaceship heading towards the planet Zarkow when you are informed that the Targoid insect people have installed powerful reactors in the planet's cavern system - reactors which will drain the planet's energy supplies and raw materials.
This is where your help is needed. As one of the ship's finest pilots you are sent to try and save the planet. And as if life wasn't difficult enough, the Targoids have invented a complex security system which you will need to get past before you can destroy the reactors.

The Targoids will try and block your attempts with laser barriers, for instance, which you must try and switch off to pass unhindered. The difficulty level of the game can be set. Degrees of Targoid aggression can be altered, as can the amount of gravity that affects you, so the game is accessible to the novice player while retaining a fair amount of longevity, even for the expert.

The password system is helpful, as even though the game becomes highly addictive, it would be extremely annoying starting from the beginning every time - especially as the life meter isn't exactly over-generous.

Visually, Fly Harder is impressive. Backdrops are clear and detailed and give a feeling of depth and realism. The game clearly benefits from the CD's quick loading abilities and enhanced sound, too, with smooth scrolling making for great playability, and the sound effects adding much atmosphere.

Fly Harder is a good example of the direction in which the CD game should be going in terms of gameplay and scrolling, but does not really show off the machine to its full potential, probably because it is merely a port-over.

But it is a highly playable and addictive game. Although a relatively unusual title, it can be likened somewhat to Thrust. It's rather difficult to get the hang of at first, but will keep you glued to your screen for a good while.


Fly Harder logo CD32


Strange name for a game Fly Harder. Does it mean you're not trying hard enough? And how does it know if you haven't played the game before? But more of that later. Anyway, a rum bunch known as the Targoid insect people have taken over the good planet Zarkow and installed reactors that exploit the planet's resources - oh crumbs. Why can't these aliens ever be called the Smith insect folk, and why can't they invade planet Tompkins? But I digress.

Your boss, Captain Jenkins - oh all right, it's Captain Nokdar - is sending you in to blow the reactors to zargoreens; I mean smithereens. Hurrah, at last, a proper word.

To destroy these parasitic reactors, you must fly cast a cunningly-placed energy sphere which then follows your ship, before dropping it on a reactor and hey presto - Kaboom!

Unfortunately this is not as easy as it sounds. And to cap it all, this darn stupid planet has something called gravity so you ship bobs and rolls like a drunken duck. This makes some of the incredibly tricky manoeuvres nigh on impossible.

Fly Harder is available on both floppy and CD format - the CD32 joypad offers reasonable control while joysticks are a bind. But by far the best way to manoeuvre your ship is with the keyboard which gives much closer control.

So, with eight levels of thrusting mayhem ahead, it's one heck of a tough task. After the initial shock of crashing 40 times on the trot, Fly Harder becomes extremely addictive.

Tough and rumble
Sure, this isn't the most sophisticated of fare, but most of you haven't been to Leeds so you won't know what sophistication is anyway. It's really no more than Space Invaders, Thrust and Defender put into a large pot, boiled and served with a bit of garnish. But you can't stop playing it.

Baddies abound. They range from bullet-spewing ground guns to parachuting bobs to spaceships that follow you all over the shop, and if that wasn't trouble enough, laser beams protect the areas where the all-important energy spheres are located. But a sneaky bullet on the nearest orange button will turn them off, although you can guarantee that on your return, they'll be on again. So Fly Harder isn't just an out and out shoot-em-up, there are little tasks that have to be undertaken before you complete a mission.

The actual playing area of some of the missions is no more than a couple of screens, although this doesn't mean that they're easy. Getting past level two has provided the AF team with a major challenge. Here the gravity changes halfway down the screen - one minute you float downward, next you're pulled up.

And as you progress, sorry, if you progress, to further levels, the aliens proliferate and the manoeuvres become still trickier. But don't be put off, because Fly Harder is fun (don't play it when your Gran's in the room though because the expletives fly when the going gets tough).

For those who have ambitions to follow the infamous Birdman, he who interrupts boxing and football matches while dropping in on the Queen now and again, then Fly Harder is the perfect training ground.

Fly Harder logo CD32

Buzz, £14.99

For the full lowdown on this smashing Thrust derivative, check out Cam's review on page 71. Then seriously consider buying the floppy disk version, because the CD32 version of this already frighteningly tricky game uses 'up' on the joypad as its thrust control (rather than, say - and this is just a wild, off-the-top-of-my-head idea and shouldn't be taken too seriously - one of the five buttons on the pad which aren't used by the game), which makes things approximately twice as hard again.

This really is a pointlessly stupid oversight, and makes a game I really wanted to love practically unplayable. The Amiga version is great, so save yourself a fiver and get that instead.

Fly Harder logo CD32 CU Amiga Screen Star

BUZZ: £14.99 OUT NOW

If you were still in nursery school when Thrust was released, I will give you a quick refresher on the finer points of the game Fly Harder. The idea of the game is to pick up shiny silver balls and drop them on a large reactor, found somewhere else on the same level. Your ship has a single jet engine, which it can fire in any direction to combat the ever present gravity (hence 'thrust' for the lower IQ levelled readers).

There are more than enough things to crash into, including other ships, and plenty of ground material. The clever thing here is that you have an energy bar on the top of the screen that goes down as you pass through other object like some sort of shield.

Thankfully, you have a gun to disperse the enemy with, but don't get too carried away flying around the screen as you also have a limited supply of fuel, indicated by another bat on top of the screen. To help you out in the game, you must find fuel pods and energy pods to replenish your spent stocks and, albeit slowly, energy does replenish itself.

The first thing you notice about the game is how hard it is. Your ship flies all over the screen crashing into everything, as you try to get the thruster firing in the right direction and gain some sort of 'it goes where you want it to go' control. After a while though, you begin to get proper movement and in no time at all you realise how good Fly Harder is, as long as you don't get too frustrated.

Fly Harder is a very addictive game. Once you've made it through a few levels all you want is more - even if gravity is coming from all directions and a very annoying laser beam tends to use up your 4 lives before you can say "hang on a second, I was past that extremely nasty looking laser beam".

Fly Harder is a fine title once you get past the initial control problems. Worth a look.