Sky Chase logo

IS there life after Interceptor, the game which apparently has it all? Surprisingly the answer is yes. That erstwhile Electronic Arts program treads the middle ground between flight simulation and airborne combat game, with Flight Simulation II cleaning up on the straight simulation front.

Sky Chase is one of the first releases from Image Works, the new Mirrorsoft label and is very much in the Top Gun mould of airborne conflict. "Never mind the realism, count the bullets" is the order of the day here.

Never mind the plot or objective either, in this game the action starts with two oppositions - any combination of human against computer simulated players - hurtling towards each other. As soon as the planes cross control is handed over to the pilots and may the best Tom Cruise lookalike win.

Each player has an independent three dimensional view, with fast moving wire frame graphics. Well they are fast if you don't select the complex terrain grid from the host of options, and let's face it, there isn't much of the screen being manipulated. There is no hidden line removal, so the graphics should be fast.

All the parameters are available, and range from giving you a choice of fighters. F/A 18 Hornet, F-14 Tomcat, F-15 Eagle, F-16 Falcon on the American side or MiG-31 Foxhound and MiG-27 Flogger on the USSR side, in tinkering with weapons supplies, timings and the effects of G-force.

The action continues, with a brief pause every time a player gets nailed, until one player runs out of fuel, the winner being whoever has scored most points. This means that if you shoot your opponent more times than he shoots you you're laughing.

But there is the problem of the ground. It's hard. Hitting it full speed is not only painful, it hands over points on a plate. Equally climbing to over 50,000 feet or flying beyond the terrain boundaries have a similar result.

A quick peek at the weapons supplied for this modern duel in the sky tend to support the assertion that this is simply a fun flying game. Your super advanced piece of Air Force real estate has twin cannon and the ability to launch missiles. The witty chaps who coded Sky Chase have made these look like Amiga bouncing balls.

Your only defence against these twin threats is speed and manoeuvrability. Either use them or find broken bits of plane showered across the screen. Even on the easy level the computer flyboys are a tough bunch.

The appeal of downing faceless opponents, especially when the explosion - unlike the rest of the effects - are so wimpish, tends to pale before long.

Drag a comrade into the fray though, and the fight becomes that bit more personal, that much more fun. On this level the slightly dated look to the graphics doesn't detract from the fast, furious, and pretty enjoyable, chase through the sky.

Sky Chase logo


The first release from Mirrorsoft's new label Imageworks is an air-to-air combat simulation imported from the States. Modelled on US Air Force and Navy flight school training competitions, Sky Chase offers would-be aces a choice of seven aircraft with which to engage in head-up confrontations.


Sky Chase provides simple, fast action, no nonsense dogfights - immediately. There's no need for lengthy expeditions across empty air space to find an opponent - at the beginning of each sortie he almost collides with you head on in a flyby sequence. From then on it's down checking the radar whilst you grip that joystick and ride the Gs.

You can choose between piloting an F-14, F-15, F-16, F-18, MiG-27, MiG-31 and, for the kamikaze among you, a paper airplane. Origami can take on a whole new meaning as a paper fighter under computer control takes on your F-18 and spells out the real meaning of pulp as you hit the deck with around 2 tons of lead in your chassis.

Since there's no penalty for flying around (you have unlimited fuel, ammunition and air-to-air missiles), you may as well just go out there and have some fun. Once you have your opponent in view, a gunsight appears centre-screen and you can burst off some cannon. As you get nearer, a targeting box comes into view and you can double-click Fire to launch a missile. Once locked on, the missile finds it's way home with unerring devotion.

When you're on the receiving end, the only way you might escape such inevitable destruction is to perform some mega-G manoeuvre by hitting the shift key to whack up the thrust and twist so wildly that any real fighter would find its body-frame strewn across three continents. Needless to say, this kind of evasive action is best left to those experts for whom Top Gun and Firefox are lazy outings on a Sunday afternoon.


There are no solid 3D graphics here to give you a realistic impression of flight but then that's not the real point of Sky Chase. What you have instead are smooth vector-graphics delivering fast screen updates of combat action. Speed, rather than realism, is being emphasised to compound thrills and spills.

The flat grid world over which you fly can be altered to display 49, 225, , 961 or 3969 squares and, the wire-frame handling slows or quickens accordingly. With just a 49 square grid and a couple of F-16s, the action is very, very fast. However, because the world below is blank and featureless, and for most of the time you daren't look at the instrument panel for fear of missing a fatal shot, judging your altitude can be a touch sticky.

At low altitudes, the only accurate measure of your height is whether you're still in one piece or not. Ground surface texturing would have improved this to some extent but probably only to the detriment of speed. Alternatively, audible warnings could have been used, but what FX are there are in no way functional.


Dual-screen aerial combat simulations are something of a rarity on any machine. On 16-bitters, Sky Chase is a first. If the graphic detail were more substantial we'd be dealing with something very special. As it is we're looking at an above average shoot-em-up employing smooth screen routines to convey the performance capabilities of a range of advanced fighters.

Where Sky Chase really scores though is in its provision of one-to-one combat for two players. When you're up there with a friend as your foe you won't have time to analyse the graphics.

Sky Chase logo

Image Works
Price: £19.99

Anybody remember Top Gun? No, not the film, Ocean's official tie-in was released about eighteen months back on the Spectrum and Amstrad but never quite made it onto the 64. Well, although it wasn't a particularly good game, it did have one novel feature. The screen display was split vertically into two independent cockpit screens, allowing two players to participate in a 'one-on-one' aerial dogfight.

Now that idea has been revamped in Skychase, Mirrorsoft's first Amiga release on their new Image Works label. There's no plot, storyline or scenario to speak of, just plain and simple air combat action against another player or the computer.

As I mentioned earlier, the screen display is split vertically down the middle, with each player having his own view from his plane. Each display consist of the obvious visual cockpit screen and a variety of gauges, indicating factors such as speed, altitude, ammunition and so on. In addition there's a tactical map of the playing area so you can see exactly where you are in relation to your opponent.

Combat begins with a computer controlled flyby sequence in which the two planes shoot by each other before control is handed over to the players. The game takes place over a large wireframe grid set onto the ground below, and gives an effect not dissimilar to Novagen's Mercenary.

The two planes are also drawn using the standard vector graphics technique. The aim of the game is simple: blow your opponent out of the sky as many times as possible thus accumulating a higher score before your fuel runs out and the game ends.

This is done by simply zooming around the game grid and trying to get directly up the bot of your opponent where you can open fire on him. Weaponry comes in two basic forms, cannons and missiles. Cannons are fairly basic weapons with a reasonably long range, and quite effective if your target is twisting and turning trying to evade your fire as you can just strafe it with a long burst of fire.

Missiles are also quite effective, but not in as many situations. To lock a missile onto a target, get within close range and a tracking cursor will appear on screen. If you can get this in line with your own cross-hair, you can let off a missile which will hit 99% of the time, providing your opponent doesn't barrel-roll out of range at the last second.

An interesting twist to Skychase is the way you can effectively redesign the entire game by altering variables on the title screen until it suits you. You can choose from several types of planes, including F-14s, F-16s, MiGs (the bane of my life) and even Paper planes! You can also change weapon loads for each player, as well as missile lock ranges and cannon impact tolerance (but only well 'ard Interceptor vets like me should muck around with these settings). The amount of fuel, and subsequently the length of the game can also be changed.

Game-designing frills aside, Skychase is a pretty mundane attempt at an arcade flight sim.
Graphically, the game is enough to turn you into a manic depressive, as there's nothing on the screen except the sky (the blue bit), the ground (the green bit) and the grid, which is only there to point out that you are actually moving. Very rarely do you get close enough to your opponent to pick out any detail on his plane.

Sound too is dreary (dull engine sounds and boring title page music do not bring me to the height of aural excitement). What annoys me most about Skychase is the way that the computer behaves so realistically. Unlike a real flight game like Interceptor where enemy MiGs pitch and roll with the greatest expertise to avoid your attacks, the computer plane in Skychase is quite happy to let you blow him away with practically no evasive manoeuvres.

However, that's a nitpick at the 1 player option. It's the two player game where all the enjoyment is to be gleaned, as here at least you're against a competent opponent (unless you're playing against Tony Dillon).

For this reason, I would only advise you to consider buying Skychase if you have a chum to play it with. The computer mode is boring, too easy and ultimately a drag to play.

Sky Chase logo

Mirrorsoft, £19.99 disk

I was going to start this review by telling a joke about The Village People singing 'In The Air Force' but I didn't think it was very funny, so I won't. I'll talk about the game instead (Yeah, good idea, Maff - Ed).

Sky Chase is set in Fightertown USA (no, I've never heard of it either) where new Air Force recruits are trained. You take the part of one of these recruits as he embarks on a flight test which consists of head-to-head aerial dogfights set within a restricted area.

Obviously, the Air Force don't want to have expensive planes destroyed by rookie pilots blasting each other out of the skies (the paperwork for trainees killed is horrendous) so all the flying takes place on computer simulators against the machine or another cadet in one of seven types of aircraft: from an FA/18 Hornet to a paper aeroplane (believe it or not).

The display shows a first person view from the chosen fighter with your opponent displayed as a wire frame plane in your display - plus the view from their plane. If you think you're suitably hard, you can switch off the computer's display in one-player mode and rely purely on instruments only to catch the enemy.

Along with the choice of plane, various other options can be changed on the title screen. They include grid size, G-force tolerance, bullet strike area and other details.

Gordon Houghton Before I start, I'd like to say that just because there isn't a 'thumbs up' face on the comment, it doesn't mean that this game isn't good. All it means is that it should be better. The actual gameplay is excellent; the controls are easy to use, the graphics are fast and effective and the sound adds the right amount of atmosphere. The problem lies with the single player option - it's just too easy. Nine times out of ten you can loop around and blast your opponent out of the sky with your first shot. The only way to really play is in two player mode, but people may find that they are lacking the required number of players for a duel (message for the very stupid: that means they're on their own). If you're on the look out for a decent two player game then this is it, otherwise play beforehand to see if this is what you really want.
Maff Evans There are very few flight simulator games that I really enjoy playing. Starglider 2 and FA/18 Interceptor being notable exceptions, but Sky Chase appealed to me partly because of the simplicity of the action, since controls have been kept to a minimum. Only the bare essentials for flying and shooting have been included, so you don't end up being shot up the tallpipe while you're looking for the right button to press to do a loop. The only serious problem is that once you've played a couple of games in single player mode, it becomes rather easy to kill the enemy fighter with a couple of simple manoeuvres.
In two player mode, however, the action is extremely exciting and frenetic. In fact this comment took a while to write, because Wayne (from the Art Department) kept coming down and tempting me to play the game. If you're one of those people (he says in his best Denis Norden voice) that enjoys a good gaming session with your mates, then this is a game for you.
Paul Glancey A good flight sim really is my cup of PG, and a good combat flight sim is even better, but a good combat flight sim with a Bach soundtrack (the Final Movement from Brandenburg Concerto 3 in this case), is something special. Anyone who hates the incessant gauge-watching of ordinary flight sims need not shy away from this product either, because although there's an extensive control panel, you only really need to refer constantly to one display - the Radar. This lets you get on with the pure dogfighting, which is exciting stuff, especially with a good human opponent - there's a simple manoeuvre which beats all the computer opponents every time.
The enormous flexibility of the game is also worth a mention, with enough options to customise just about everything on your aircraft short of painting snarling teeth across the nose! Anyone remotely interested in fast airborne action should check this out as soon as possible.