Over and over and over again

SDI logo

THE Strategic Defence Initiative was Ronald Reagan's attempt to solve the world's nuclear dilemma by building more nuclear weapons and putting them into space. No, it did not make any sense to me either. I always knew that bloke was one sandwich short of a picnic.

In typical paranoid American programming style, those darn baby-eating Soviets have launched an all-out nuclear attack on the innocent western world. Sigh. As you happen to be in orbit around the earth at the time, the onus is on you to prevent global catastrophe. To do this you have an SDI satellite which can fire laser beams in all directions and destroy anything that flies past. It has a style very reminiscent of Missile Command. A unique system whereby you control both the satellite and this weapons sight at the same time is used. It is not hard to see why it is unique. If you play using nothing but the mouse, then pressing the left mouse button will enable you to guide the satellite. Not pressing the left button will move the sight. Pressing the right button will fire your weapons. If this sounds tricky, then I have described it perfectly.

If you have a joystick plugged in as well, you can control the satellite with your other hand. This program will make you ambidextrous if nothing else. A friend might be persuaded to perform this highly-skilled task for you.

The gravity of the earth's peril becomes clear as several thousand missiles (I have told a million times not to exaggerate. Ed) start scrolling from right to left across the screen. Trying to aim your sight on each one individually is a task that even the most ardent mouse user will find impossible.

It is at this point that what must surely be the ultimate nuclear deterrent becomes apparent in the form of holding the fire button down and dragging the mouse frantically across the desk. All this time you must be ready to move the satellite out of the way of attacking space debris by either using the joystick or by judicious use of the left mouse button.

It soon becomes apparent that no penalty is incurred for letting the missiles past, other than a slight drop in the overall score. As long as the attacking spacecraft are destroyed, everything is hunky dory.

If all the scrolling baddies in each wave are destroyed and your scoring averages are marked as Perfect, you are treated to the appearance of a dancing duck. As if saving the world was not rewarding enough.

On a personal level I find this sort of jingoistic game as others find Strip Poker programs. But forgetting the plot for a moment, what sort of game lurks underneath? Not a very good one, I am afraid. The gameplay leaves a lot to be desired. 12 levels of missiles scroll past relentlessly with only minor variations of attacking aliens. Play soon becomes dull. The graphics are very pretty, but the beauty is only skin deep.