Jetstrike logo Gamer Gold

Alternative go up tiddly up with their latest flight game.

Whenever "flight" games are mentioned in passing conversation, you immediately think of MicroProse and their ubiquitous collection of flight simulations. I don't suppose it ever dawned on anyone to make an arcade "flight" game. The only decent one I can think of was the fantastic PD software that called itself Blip.

Rasputin Software have seen this gap in the flight market and created Jet Strike, a plane game with a difference. In Rasputin's flight of fancy you must stop the devious SPUDD forces by attacking them with your, ahem "borrowed" aircraft.

Your commanding officer will give you a mission objective which you have to achieve without dying. Simple? Hmm, not very. First of all you have to learn how to fly the aircraft; this is not an easy task and one which you must persevere with.

Pushing the joystick up rotates the aircraft anti-clockwise while pulling down rotates it clockwise. This system sounds a little strange at first, but once learned it allows you to control the aircraft with an amazing degree of accuracy.

There are over 135 missions and you get a choice of 40 different aircraft including the surreal dragon option) to fly in them. All the missions demand a balance between both skill and tactics to complete. Jet Strike is a unbelievably big game and the game's creators reckon that it will take an average player many months to work through all the combat missions.

Just like Blip there is a two-player option in the form of an Aerolympics competition. This lets you and a chum to take it in turns to fly ten aeronautical test against the clock. The aim is to get more points than your opponent and this is achieved y doing the tests quicker and, err having the ability not to crash!

Jet Strike is an original piece of software and one I would heartily recommend to any gamer. The control system is difficult, but Rome wasn't built in a day, so you should be able to put up with.

The graphics are really cool; although they're quite small they are wonderfully detailed. If you're looking for something a bit different this month then take a quick squint at Jet Strike you won't regret it.

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Jetstrike Ssh! Do not look now but some of the world's biggest nutters have just walked in the door. The man with the moustache and the funny handshake is leader of a Third World dictatorship, the guy with the briefcase is an arms dealer. Traffic wardens? Yes, there are some of them here too. All these psychos are members of SPUDD, a secret society with an evil intent - the tyrannical rule of the planet Earth. And you are the only one who can stop them.

Jetstrike is an arcade shoot-em-up which enables you to fly 39 different types of aircraft on over 100 individual missions against the dastardly SPUDD. You get to fly everything from attack helicopters to Stealth Fighters, and Spitfires to stunt planes, with just tow slight catches.

Firstly, they have been lent to you by sympathetic governments on the understanding you will look after them. Secondly, most of them have a complete lack of ejector seats or parachutes. Gulp!

Things do not get any easier when you see what you are expected to do. The action is viewed from a third-person perspective - no cockpit views here. This means you cannot see what you are flying towards most of the time and you must rely on extremely risky hedge-hopping techniques and a crappy radar system.

Strangely, the plane handles them like a normal aircraft. You push the joystick up to dive, pull it back to climb when you expect it to be the other way around given the perspective. This means you make more than your fair share of mistakes, especially when it comes to sticking your kite on the Tarmac.

Once you have mastered the tricky control and got used to the weird viewpoint, Jetstrike actually proves quite rewarding. There is a lot of variety in the missions, from bombing runs, to complicated dogfights, carrier landings and personnel drops. The huge number of different aircraft also makes this game more fun to play - the helicopters are easier to fly, but are pretty useless in dogfights against SPUDD jet fighters, for example.

The graphics are nothing stunning, there is very little peripheral action on-screen, and the plane sprites are small and very sparsely detailed. It reminds me of the kiddie combat sequences in Ancient Art of War in the Skies rather than F-19, but it is great fun nevertheless. The sound effects are especially convincing with some tasty aircraft samples and ear-splitting explosions.

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Eine Flugsimulation mit 39 verschiedenen Maschinen und über 100 Missionen auf nur zwei Disketten? Von einem ganz neuen Hersteller? Für schlappe 69 Mäuse? Da kann doch irgend etwas nicht stimmen?!

Es stimmt leider so gut wie gar nichts, denn bei den Angaben auf der Packung handelt es sich um einen glasklaren Etikettenschwindel: Das, was die ein oder zwei Piloten hier (abwechselnd) unter Zeitdruck tun können, würde jeder vernünftige Mensch außerhalb der Marketingabteilung von Rasputin Software unter die Rubrik horizontal scrollendes Ballergame packen.

Statt in der erwarteten 3D-Landschaft fliegt man daher mit begrenztem Spritvorrat an Bord immer stur von rechts nach links. Auf dem Weg zum feindlichen Hauptquartier, das meist fotografiert oder gleich in Schutt und Asche gelegt werden muß, wird man von Fliegern, Raketenwerfern und Flakstellungen belästigt. Aber dafür hat man ja drei (von insgesamt 40) Waffensysteme dabei, außerdem hinterlassen die ausgeschalteten Gegner allerlei Extras wie Munition, Dauerfeuer oder eine besonders massive Panzerung.

Ist die Aufgabe erfolgreich abgeschlossen, muß man bloß noch sanft landen, um das Paßwort und eventuell sogar einen Orden zu kassieren.

Während die Grafik noch halbwegs akzeptabel aussieht und der Sound sogar ziemlich gut klingt, ist die Steuerung der Flugzeuge eine hundertprozentige Katastrophe: Man braucht mindestens sechs Hände, um via Joystick, Feuerknopf und diverse Tasten auf dem Keyboard gleichzeitig zu ballern, seine Kiste in der Luft zu halten und den eigentlichen Auftrag zu erfüllen.

Den Programmierern ist damit das Kunststück gelungen, ein Spiel abzuliefern, mit dem absolut niemand etwas Vernünftiges anfangen kann! (mic)

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It is time to go back to the '80s with the Amiga's wackiest flight sim.

The year is 1985. Or thereabouts. I am sitting cross-legged on the carpet in my parents' livingroom, eyesight-threateningly close to a 21-inch colour television. I am playing a game called Harrier Attack on the original rubber-keyboard Spectrum. It is just past 3 o' clock in the morning.

What a touching scene from the dawn of home computer game entertainment, eh? I thought I'd share it with you now because everything about Jet Strike just reeks of nostalgia, and that old-time Speccy classic, Harrier Attack, in particular. From the weird 8-bit graphics to the long loading times, this is a game that miraculously catapults you way back almost ten years in video software history. Which may - or may not- be a good thing.

It seems to be aimed at people who like planes but cannot be bothered with flight sims. You get to fly a wide range of planes on an equally broad selection of missions, which you can pick from various training options or the main part of the game, a linked series of 100 combat operations. Missions can involve an element of air-to-air combat, a hint of ground attack activity, or, just as often, a little bit of both - with maybe a suggestion of spy-rescuing or reconnaissance-photo-taking thrown in for good measure.

I am sitting cross-legged on the carpet

Your plane is controlled using a method that, at first, is frankly baffling, but after a bit of practice (I'd suggest - ooh - a week or so) enables you to pull all manner of manoeuvres without even thinking. (The main reason why I am reviewing this is that I have been a big fan of the demo on the AP30 coverdisk and it would have taken too long for anyone else to figure out the controls).

On top of that, you also have to contend with the arbitrary scoring, the crap puns, the slow screen-swapping and the deeply unnerving way that huge mountains and tower-blocks suddenly scroll onto the screen and swat you from the sky like an pathetic insect. I am tempted to lump these together as 'amusing idiosyncrasies' than crippling bugs - after all, they just add to the whole nostalgia package.

But, - and this is a big 'but' - even though I am seriously into old-fashioned Spectrum-style romps, I still have a problem with Jet Strike. I really like the idea. I love the deep-down feel-good sensation when you successfully carpet-bomb an unarmed convoy with a runway denial device. And I even derive some form of perverse satisfaction from the utterly unforgiving controls.

But the one thing I CANNOT STAND is the delays. Every time you crash your plane (and believe me, you will be doing this a lot), you have to press fire and WAIT WAIT WAIT while the disk drive whirrs and clicks and eventually puts you back on the runway again. What is that? You have accidentally selected the wrong option form the main menu? Well, TOUGH - it is probably faster to re-boot than to try and get back to where you started.

It is a tribute to Jet Strike's appeal that I have kept going back to it despite this frankly hideous flaw (to be fair, you can install it on a hard disk, which does help matters somewhat). I cannot recommend the game unreservedly, simply because I know it will drive some people completely spare.

I can imagine it having some sort of weir cult appeal, however - the sheer level of frustration means that you are not going to finish it in a hurry. Oh, and it is also way too expensive as it stands - a lot of people may have bought a lot of Spectrum games that, in retrospect, were mildly entertaining rubbish. But then again, they were not paying 27 quid a time.

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More a flight game than a flight sim, Jetstrike takes an unusual side-on scrolling view to depict the action. It sets the player up as an ace fighter pilot working for an elite task force whose aim is to rid the world of S.P.U.D.D. (The Society of Particularly Undesirable Dastardly Dudes). S.P.U.D.D. wants world domination and you are the only one standing in their way. So, the plan is that you carry out a series of strike missions against S.P.U.D.D. bases.

You have a selection of aircraft at your disposal ranging from small Wessex helicopters to super fast SU-27 Flankers. The missions vary from rescuing spies to blowing up radar stations - all in the name of peace.

Jetstrike is a funny old game. The control system is quirky in the extreme. For instance, when you are flying right to left you climb by pulling down, but travelling left to right the controls are reversed. So, in the middle of a dogfight you can find yourself heading for the ground at an enormous rate simply by rotating too far. Very confusing.

As for the graphics, well, they belong firmly in a PD game - not in a £25-plus product. Criticism aside for a second, Jetstrike is actually quite fun to play. If you grab a mate and try the Aerolympics option (i.e. you take turns to fly through a devious course of balloon gates, etc.) you will find yourself soon dragged into the action.

The problem is it just isn't worth £25.99. Had it been released at a budget price then I would heartily recommend you buy it and the score would reflect this. As it is, though, don't bother.

Jetstrike CD32 logo CD32

The flight sim Jetstrike (Rasputin 0438 840004, £26) is almost the opposite of Litil Divil in content. The graphics are hailed as 24-bit but they look like an accelerated 8-bit display. The control system is awkward to get to grips with, although once mastered it becomes natural and intuitive and the complete experience drips with whole fibre nowt taken out gameplay.

The game plays similarly to the old ZX Spectrum classic Harrier Attack, but it runs faster, looks better and has loads more options. There are just under 200 combat missions which vastly improves on the Amiga original. Most them are ground attack missions which is great - the explosions are way over the top and we're still delighted by them.

You can choose to fly just about any modern military airplane. To add further flavour, Rasputin have seen fit to throw in quite a few helicopters as well. Hurrah for them, or something.

Other improvements are the lack of insanely long loading times which plagued the original - sometimes it was quicker to reboot and start again rather than wait for any changes you had implemented.

Flying high
If, in the unlikely event you grow tired of military missions, you can opt to fly in the Aerolympics. These test all of your flying skills to the limit. It's a good way of sharpening up the reflexes you need for advanced combat and the like.

Jetstrike CD32 logo CD32

Vor exakt einem Jahr ist die Disk-Version dieser Action-simulation im Joker-Testflug mit 19 Prozentpunkten abgestürzt, jetzt schiebt Rasputin eine verbesserte CD-Fassung nach - but, aber längst nicht gut genug...

Das beginnt schon mal damit, daß die dürftigen Simulations-elemente des Baller-Rundflugs nicht verstärkt wurden, statt dessen hat man nun einfach die Bezeichnung Flugactionspiel auf die Packung gemalt.

Das trifft die Sache zwar etwas genauer als der zuvor verwendete Begriff Simulation, ändert aber kein Stück an der total vermurksten Steuerung, die praktisch 1:1 von der Tastatur auf das Pad übertragen wurde.

Wer sich dennoch an den über 60 Flugzeugen und Hubschraubern versuchen will, kann das zusammen mit nunmehr bis zu sieben Kollegen in knapp 200 Missionen tun. Unterschiede im Flugverhalten wird man freilich nach wie vor vergeblich suchen, denn zumeist wird ohnehin nur geballert, Aufklärungstouren sind eher selten.

Entsprechend üppig ist die mit drei Knöpfen auszulösende Bewaffnung ausgefallen: Es gibt gut 60 Systeme, darunter sogar Atombomben. Auch ein "Follow Weapon Modus" wird geboten, der Sprit ist limitiert, und den Gipfel an Realismus stellt das einziehbare Fahrwerk dar - zumal es völlig schnuppe ist, wenn man's mal vergißt...

Immerhin ist die horizontal scrollende Grafik deutlich schöner und der Sound sogar richtig toll geworden, denn von besseren FX über Sprachausgabe bis hin zu CD-Musik fehlt nichts, was man von seinem CD-ROM erwartet.

Als Audio-CD wäre Jetstrike mit seinen (mitunter auch gut gesungenen) Tracks im Stil von ZZ-Top oder Top Gun also durchaus brauchbar, wenn auch ein bißchen teuer. Als Spiel kann man die Scheibe hingegen immer noch vergessen. (mm)

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Despite the fact that it looked and played like some sort of elaborate PD game, the original version of Jetstrike (AP32, 68%) managed to impress us enough to include it down at the tail end of the AMIGA POWER All Time Top 100.

There was no getting away from the fact that it was flawed through and through, not least with the fact that for every minute of game time, you had to endure an almost equal amount of disk accessing. Being available on a bright and shiny CD has seen off that problem, but it is still and odd catalogue of quirky idiosyncrasies.

For a start, the between-game graphics are mostly terrible (although there is a pretty good logo you get to see during loading breaks, and it does not say the usually irritating 'Loading, please wait' so no marks lost there).

The grammar of the mission briefings sucks, with such howlers as "fly out and make them ecology", whatever that might mean, and the radio messages that pop up occasionally ("This is the tower, you are cleared for take off") sound spookily like a passer-by who has a tape recorder shoved under his nose. Professional voiceover work this ain't.

Flying jets through narrow tunnels

The basic game idea is primitive, being only one step above the ancient Spectrum game Harrier Attack, with you flying either left or right across a wraparound screen to shoot or bomb things. There is something tragically wrong with the flying model, which results in planes stalling as they turn, or bizarrely hanging in the air, nose up, tail down for anything up to five seconds.

This is particularly noticeable during air combat which invariably ends up with the two planes comically and unrealistically circling each other. And the music marks an all-time low for video games, with Top Gun-inspired punchy MOR rock songs written, performed and recorded (we have to presume) by the programmer's friend in his mum's living room. However...

Once you have started playing, it is kind of hard to stop. I think my problem is that it has been programmed by someone dangerously obsessed with the modern military, so instead of ten or twelve planes and a few helicopters, there is pretty much every single modern military aeroplane to choose from, each with suitable sound effects.

If you choose the A-10 Warthog for instance (my fave plane), you get a realistic turbine whine and a staccato chainsaw rattling every time you fire the Gatling gun, which certainly made my day, especially when I roared towards a poorly-defended convoy and blew the blooming ("Bejabers" - Ed) out of it.

Although the air-to-air combat is poor, the main game is set around ground attack, which is fearsome fun with huge explosions on land and groovy splashes at sea. You get a number of missions across the same terrain, so taking out targets early on helps you later, and should the prospect of blowing things up bore you, you can always go on to the stupidity hard and hugely entertaining Aerolympics section, which gets you doing dumb things like flying fast jets through narrow tunnels.

Despite all its problems and a few annoying glitches, Rasputing have finally produced a jolly satisfying version of jetstrike, with the CD cutting down accessing time to the point of welcome invisibility and the new backgrounds and weather effects improving the overall look of it.

They have also used the joypad wisely, which gives it a huge user-friendly advantage over the clumsy joystick-keyboard combination of the original. But best of all, it is just good old-fashioned fun to play. And those explosions - phwoar, eh lads?

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Shadow Software's blast from the past has just appeared on CD32. "Hmm", says Tony Dillon.

Imagine a game that lets you fly almost every combat and stunt aircraft ever devised. A game that can place you in almost any battle situation. A game where you need almost no knowledge of flight itself, and concentrate on pure arcade action. A game with such simple controls that you can become addicted immediately, and never want to put it down again.

Such a game is exactly what Shadow Software must have been hoping to produce when they began work on Jetstrike - the multi-fighter aircraft simulator. Released on floppy machines last year, the game received a real mixed bag of reviews. Some people really loved it, and found its tip of the hat to older games quite enchanting. Others thought it was a load of old pap and would not recommend it to their worst enemy.

To be honest I sat on the middle of the fence, seeing nothing really wrong with it, but at the same time finding little about it worth recommending. It still sold incredibly well though, and the constant flow of updates to the program shows that there is a very active group of users out there.

The main menu at the start of the game is a good indication of what you can expect from the product, and there are a hell of a lot of choices, from practicing the various aspects of the game (combat, bombing, photo recon runs, dogfighting etc) to playing out full campaigns.

If you have not seen Jetstrike before, then you won't be familiar with how it works. Essentially it is a side on scrolling shoot em up, but with unusual controls. Instead of moving the plane around as you would expect to with an eight way controller (up moving the plane up, down to go down and so on), the control is actually rotational, with up on the joypad rotating the plane clockwise and down rotating anti-clockwise.

It takes a little getting used to, but it is a control method that works fine, apart from the fact that when flying to the right, pushing up makes the plane dive (as it would in real life), whereas pushing up when you are flying left makes the plane climb.

It has to be said that the game looks fairly awful. Small, indistinct sprites roam around a hundred and one identical landscapes with a jerkiness that is inexcusable. The whole thing just judders and shakes all over the place, which quite destroys first impressions. Unfortunately, it is an impression that status with you as you continue to play the game.

The real problem with Jetstrike is that its look and feel is very dated. The small sprites, with the poor scrolling and limited gameplay appeal make it a little archaic.

Although there have been improvements for the CD32 version - extra sound and music - there is really nothing about it that I can honestly recommend.

I remember when games like this were all the rage. Harrier Attack and Tornado Low Level are two of my most favourite games. There was something about them that was just so exciting. Flying a high speed jet skilfully through an intense battle situation was quite an unusual thing in those days, and even though the graphics were simple and the gameplay simpler, they quickly became classics.

That was, however, in 1986, and things have come a long way since then. Graphics have become a lot more sophisticated. Single frame, quarter pixel scrolling has become the normal things to see along with rendered aircraft and 256 colour images.

Jetstrike from Rasputing, sadly, is a game that belongs in a museum.