What many of the people who hail this project as a wonderful idea fail to appreciate is that with the arcade games being developed on a two or four meg Amiga, they are barely of arcade quality standard at best.
Not that it is any particular fault of the Amiga, it is quite capable of delivering the goods. More that the programmers simply haven't come up to scratch. Sure Xenon was a nice game, but that was the best of the bunch and you would hardly feed a coin-op shoot-'em-up which only used around 60 percent of the screen.
That's all about to change right now though, in a game that gets zero marks for originality and more importantly, top marks for all out action.
The name of the game is Sidewinder, and for the astonishingly low price of only £10 you can equip your Amiga with one of the best pieces of non-stop destruction ever.
It all starts with a pounding tune playing over what appears to be a digitised picture of the inlay card. This provides the mission briefing. A galactic war has ground to a halt with lines of spacecraft facing each other across the cosmos. Suddenly, flying out from the enemy ranks, appears a ship the size of a planet. The Star Killer is here and is heading for Earth. Subtlety isn't part of its armament, as its primary function is to dive-bomb the sun in a system, sending it supernova, crisping everything else in sight. Nothing can stop this monstrosity. Or can it? As with all the best sci-fi movies, it is noted that a single seater spacecraft could penetrate the docking system and live long enough to destroy the control level, an act calculated to bring about the destruction of the ship before it reached Earth.
In order to get to the control level you have to fight your way through the water distribution level, the hydroponics, the residential, the flight deck and the command level.
The whole point of this waffle is that the scenery for each level corresponds to its function. Thus the water distribution level, the first in fact, is very watery with steel grey platforms, tanks and barrels.
The ground defences arrayed against you are also appropriate so that on the first level you are facing pill boxes on legs set in the water.
The hydroponics level features robotic gardeners who lob missiles towards you, and lots of flora and brown earth from which snipers appear, fire, the disappear underground again.
The residential area contains lots of cream coloured towers and interconnection pathways, as well as giant gun emplacements.
The graphic designs are excellent but fall down in one area: the airborne defenders that you have to contend with are uninspiring, to say the least. While they do occasionally swirl around in pretty patterns, the ships are fairly dull. Not that you've got that much time to watch them.
Surprisingly, after Xenon anyway, Sidewinder is a full screen vertical scrolling game with some measure of lateral movement in the style of Flying Shark. The scrolling is very smooth, if not particularly fast, but it doesn't have to be for this type of game.
Best of all though are the explosion and accompanying sampled sound effects. As there are a great many ground-
At full belt it's like something out of a Rambo film. I just love blasting the long strip of fuel drums on level one.
Initially your firepower isn't too high powered, so thank goodness for the another feature of Sidewinder. Periodically goodies float down the screen in the form of lettered boxes. Rapid fire, power shots that enable targets to be destroyed with a single missile, invulnerability and a hover facility can all be had for around 15 seconds before the effect wears off.
The hover function really only comes into its own when you reach the final, control level, as it stops the screen from scrolling - essential if you are to fulfil the mission brief of destroying everything on that level.
If you have an auto-fire joystick flick that switch and indulge in an orgy of apocalyptic annihilation.
If you found that Xenon got too hard too son then Sidewinder's five skill levels will be all the more welcome. Add to that the fact that this game is a shrine to wanton destruction, the entrance charge is only £10, and you have a brilliant, all-action experience.