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Mankind is making yet another last stand in the latest vertically-scrolling shoot-em-up. Frenetic may be frantic, but is it fun or simply forgettable?

Core Design are famous for their 3D masterpiece Corporation and so this is a bit of a departure for them in that it's a vertically-scrolling shoot-em-up and it's a fairly brainless one at that. The story is a little convoluted: apparently Earth is knackered and the inhabitants are on the move.

Loonies from the planet Mozone have been attacking Earth for over 200 years and the Earthlings are just about sick of it. So you, whilst languishing in the comfort and security of the Space Cadet lounge, have been called upon to save Earth from the alien filth. Your bosses feel a bit sorry for you and have decided to kit you out with a massive great gunship. With it, you must clear a path to a safe planet, destroying any aliens which get in your way.

Get yerself tooled up fer a rumble
Luckily, as the screen scrolls upwards, butter-finger spice monsters drop extremely powerful weapons when you shoot them. These can be picked up and bolted onto your craft. The weapons include spreading lasers, meaty cannons and homing-missiles. Some of these weapons, such as the side-firing electro phaser, tag along behind you like drones as you move around. They usually return to the centre of your craft when you stop, but a neat power-up causes them to trail permanently.

You can collect speed-up pods (just as well because you start off very slowly) and if you collect too many, you can pick up slow-down pods to counter the effect. Sadly, if you lose one of your lives, you lose all the weapons you have collected.

The game features the usual end-of-level bad geezers, very big and requiring huge amounts of fire-power to destroy. There are eight levels in all, featuring differing terrain, getting more and more alien the further you get. The attack waves are tricky and often frustrating, but there are no real surprises.

Sound is really cool. Heavy guitar soundtrack, backed up by extremely porky sound-effects.

Two bloke action!
One neat feature is the two-player mode. You play as a team, doubling the amount of fire-power available, hut the competition to collect weapons and bonuses is intense. It does become a little easier in two-player-mode, but is more fun just the same.

The end-of-level baddies are fairly easy, they take far too long to kill, though, and they're kind of dull. The graphics on the other hand are actually quite nice. The backgrounds are well drawn and fairly effective. They don't really jump out and grab you, though, and some of them have been strongly influenced by the game's peers in the genre.

But what about the graphics?
The sprites are often attractive, but again never outstanding. The aliens don't vary too much, but they're all well animated and smooth. One problem which surfaces a little too frequently is the slowing-down when lots of things are moving on screen. This is especially noticeable in two-player mode and can get quite dreadful.

The scrolling is a little jerky, but not to the detriment of the game. Sound is really cool. Heavy guitar soundtrack, backe dup by extremely porky soundeffects. Gameplay wise, the game falls into the category of mediocre. It's not dreadful, but it doesn't offer anything you haven't seen before. In fact, this game blags so many ideas from other games, that the main feeling after playing it, is one of déjà vu.

By its very nature, Frenetic cannot afford to be too original, but in the light of competition like SWIV and Battle Squadron, it falls in a very dark shadow

An everyday tale of space folk, shooting and interstellar nasties

Frenetic opens with a cinematic-style intro that shows a shadowy human moving mysteriously towards his craft. It sets the scene well for the blast. The Milk Tray figure is supposed to be you, getting ready for battle.

Glorious cinematic openings used to be the domain of Psygnosis and the occasional high-profile game. Now everybody is getting in on the act. The net result can only be good news for Amiga game players as visual treats galore are dished out before a game begins.

The problem with this approach used to be that you had to wade through the entire intro every time you creaked, take Shadow of the Beast for instance. Frenetic sidesteps this by allowing you to boot the game directly from the second disk, while the intro lives on disk one!

Sure, no amount of pretty piccies can save a fame game but they establish atmosphere and really show what the machine can do when it lets rip - and it's useful for impressing your Gran and other folk who think computing is still in the Speccy age.

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Rollenspiel, Plattformgehüpfe, Söldner-Blutrausch - welches Genre fehlt Core Design eigentlich noch in der Sammlung? Richtig, eine zünftige Knallerei im Weltraum! Und da kommt sie schon...

Nach ausgiebiger Suche haben wir immerhin ein paar Gemeinsamkeiten mit den anderen Werken der englischen Newcomer ausfindig gemacht, beispielsweise scrollt Frenetic genau wie "War Zone" von oben nach unten.

Und genau wie ihr Erstling "Corporation" spielt auch die neue Ballerorgie in ferner Zukunft, konkret im 23. Jahrhundert gegen 3.10 nachmittags. Um diese Jahreszeit wird es nämlich kritisch für Mütterchen Erde: Durch fortwährende Alien-Angriffe ist unser geplagter Heimatplanet schon ganz geschwächt; da er es nach Expertenansicht deshalb nicht mehr allzulange machen wird, schickt man flugs einen Raumgleiter los, der sich draußen im All nach neuen Lebensräumen für die Menschheit umsehen soll. Auf dem Pilotensitz: Du. Copilot: Dein bester Freund.

Die Story kennt man zwar schon von irgendwoher, aber das macht fast gar nichts. Schließlich sollen die Herren Ballergame-Erfinder ihre Kreativität nicht an eine hochoriginelle Hintergrundgeschichte verschwenden, sondern lieber an die Action auf dem Screen denken! Was sie hier auch gemacht haben - herausgekommen sind dabei acht Level voller rotierender UFOs, riesiger Blechschlangen, brandgefährlicher Meteoriten und ähnlich nervenaufreibenden Gegnern.

Selbstverständlich fehlen auch die besonders dicken und daher auch besonders belastbaren Endgegner nicht. Ebenfalls vertreten: Extrawaffen (Frontlaser, Zusatz- und Streuschußkanonen, diverse Raketen - insgesamt acht verschiedene Waffentypen), Schutzschilde, Extraleben und "Raumschiffbeschleuniger". Wer unterwegs brav ales niederballert und folglich kräftig Punkte sammelt, kriegt bei Überschreitung der 100.000er Schwelle sogar noch ein weiteres Leben spendiert.

Bei vertikal scrollenden Space-Ballereien ist naturgemäß der Vergleich mit "Xenon 2" fällig, und da schneidet Frenetic gar nicht mal so übel ab. Zwar kann es dem Meisterwerk der Bitmap Brothers in keinem Punkt wirklich das Wasser reichen, aber wer das eine mag, wird auch das andere mögen: Hintergründe und Sprites sind sehr ansprechend geraten (wenn auch nicht so detailliert wie bei "Xenon 2"), das Scrolling ist rasend schnell (wenn auch ein wenig ruckelig), und die Schuß-bzw. Explosionsgeräusche sind genauso knackig, wie die Musik aufpeitschend ist (wenn auch nicht so genial wie die von Ihrwißtschonwas).

Uneingeschränkt lobenswert dagegen die Steuerung, bzw. die ganze Handhabung - nicht zuletzt deswegen, weil sich der zweite Spieler jederzeit durch einen Druck auf den Feuerknopf in die laufende Action einklinken kann.

Also ein sehenwertes Ballergame ohne nennenswerte Schwachstellen, linke Feindformationen oder völlig unbesiegbare Endgegner - da werden sich bestimmt ein paar Fans finden, die Frenetic so richtig frenetisch (oder war's fanatisch?) spielen! (C. Borgmeier)

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Core seem to be suffering from a spot of creative block at the moment. After some top-notch product, first they release a straight Ikari Warriors clone (Warzone, 65% from us in issue 2), and now they've come up with this, a vertically-scrolling shoot-'em-up taken directly from the Xenon 2 textbook. The problem for me is trying to find something new to say about it, so here goes.

No, I'm sorry, It's gone. Frenetic is a shoot-'em-up that more or less completely fails to stand out from the crowd in any way. The levels (of which there are eight) all have that 'seen-it-before' look to them (for example, level one is from Battle Squadron, level two from Xenon 2, and level three's from Battle Squadron again), and the gameplay doesn't do anything to dispel the feeling.

The bolt-on power-ups are pure Xenon 2 once more, and the most 'different' thing about the aliens is that you come across multiple-hit baddies rather easier than you do in most games (hardly a good point in my book).

Action-wise there's plenty going on, though, and the faster-than-usual scrolling backgrounds create an effective illusion of speed, although the game isn't actually any faster than average. Oops, it's that 'A' word again..

Frenetic is a zappy enough little blaster, and very nicely put together, but if you compare it to something like R-Type II (also in this issue), it very quickly starts to look decidedly second-rate.

You can see what they've been aiming at, but none of the promises made to use by the programmers when interviewed last issue really seem to have come off. Even at the 'reduced' £21 price point, you're not getting an awful lot for your money here and I can't recommend it with any great sense of conviction at all.

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Here's a fast and furiously paced eight level shoot 'em up which will either cause deep depression in those with slower reflexes, or be an exhilarating romp for the vast majority whose reaction times are faster than Speedy Gonzales, the little mouse.

Frenetic has extremely good looking graphics, comprised of vivid colours and elaborate designs. The game involves a journey through the eerie domains of electric blue space stations that could be straight out of the climatic tunnel sequence in Star Wars. The intricate, involved backdrops have a Salvador Dali influence with craggy rocks and weird space phenomena adding a psychedelic experience to the game.

If only the other qualities of Frenetic could maintain such a high calibre. Alas, the actual gameplay leaves much to be desired. Your tiny space craft does its best, but lacks speed and power. True, it is theoretically possible to pick up seven weapons, but they're very elementary, consisting mainly of side shots and extra ammunition. Bearing in mind that Frenetic is an extremely tough and difficult game, a comprehensive range of weapons is absolutely vital. One only has to look at the add-ons in Xenon II to see the woeful lack of hardware in Frenetic.

The sounds and music are pretty groovy, a must for the head banging fraternity; tough luck for those who prefer classical music or Big Fun!

The end-of-level guardians are fairly entertaining. Gigantic moons need to be destroyed and those 'oh so-familiar' crustacea (shades of R-Type methinks) need a fair old crack of the whip to be demolished.

A high speed chase commences at the end of each level. The music tempo increases, accompanied by a quick-moving background. As a high tech fantasy shoot 'em up, Frenetic doesn't measure up. However, what it does offer are superb graphics with a very sophisticated presentation. This doesn't make up for the tedious gameplay, though, which calls for the patience of a saint.

Definitely a game to buy on an uneventful day. After the success of such games as Corporation, Chuck Rock and Car-Vup, Core Design will, unfortunately, have to bite the bullet on this one.

Disappointingly, many of the enemy sprites are uninspiring - the best are spiders which spew forth deadly pellets and vicious offspring. The worst are tiny spinning baubles which look like rat pellets. Watch out for the fantastical backdrops, so complex that becoming trapped in the undergrowth is an extremely easy pitfall. It feels a little like being trapped in a lift and squashed!

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Ice cold aristocrat Lord Paul Lakin last got excited in August 1978. We threw Core's latest offering his way to see if that would make him a little more Frenetic.

Scenario, scenario, where's the flaming scenario? Ah, here we are. "A scouting party is sent to break through the evil Mozone defences and reach the outer-most point of the mapped galaxy. From there they must go further than any ship has dared venture before. Your aim is simple - make a safe passage for the Earth's mother ships to proceed to a new beginning."

Hmmm... well, it's alright as far as it goes, but it's hardly the stuff of great novellas. How about this... "They greying mists of an ochre dawn cracked ominously over the twin towers of Anenima III. There were worse places to be than a broke-down bar on the earth's furthest planet, but Zen Mortrock could't think of any of them."

"Staring moodily into a glass that was as empty as his wallet, he remembered all the good times he'd had on this Anenima III. That didn't take too long. He looked again at the faded poster on the faded wall. "FLAT BROKE? THEN GO FLAT OUT! Serious money paid to pilots willing to push their machines and their nerves to the limit. If you can get to the ends of the universe and back, then get yourself over to Hanger 3 and sign up for the journey of a lifetime. You'll come back rich... if you come back at all."
The deal mentioned money and hope, and they were qualities Zen Mortrock was short on right now. With a sigh he heaved his decaying bulk off the stool and headed for Hangar 3".

Well, novellas are just a load of padding. In games they're there to fill out the box and help justify the price; in reviews they disguise the fact that I haven't got a lot to say about the scenario of the game.

Frenetic is a vertically scrolling shoot-'em-up, very much in the Xenon II mould. There are eight levels to blast your way through, with the obligatory end-of-level nasty. To boast your fire-power, you can pick up add-ons or really go for it with a two player option.

Amiga reviewPaul: By the time you get round to reading this, you'll have already played the demo to death. Unless, of course, some scheming bast has swpied your disk. If that's the case then gather round and listen carefully, because this review is just for you.

Frenetic is a state of the art version of an old-style game. There's little about the game that is stunningly original. Fans of this style of space, or in some cases underwater, shoot -'em-up will have seen it all before (except, perhaps, the two-player option - a nice touch).

The graphics are colourful and atmospheric, yet scroll past without a jerk in sight (unlike Bob's Your Uncle). If you really want to test their smoothness (and your reactions) you can even opt to whack the speed up. You might like to whack the sound up too - it's big and bassy, as it is so often is in this sort of game. On the action front, there are plenty of baddies to shake your stick at.

Nothing in Frenetic is very new, but it's all fairly exciting and more than fairly difficult. With the exception of the first level, which is a piece of pecan pie - you'll appreciate the difference if you've ever tried to stuff a pecan pie into your disk drive!. There's no time to catch your breath between shots - it's all action and it's all coming straight at you.

If Xenon II left you begging for more, then here it is - just don't expect anything new! Stop