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Lange, sehr lange hat man nichts mehr gehört vom krisengebeutelten Hersteller Epyx. Und nach dem Eindruck, den das neue Spiel so hinterläßt, hätte das auch ruhig noch ein Weilchen so bleiben können!

In der Hintergrundstory geht's um den Drogen-schmuggel aus Kolumbien, ein in den Staaten zur Zeit hochbrisantes Thema. Viele Amerikaner würden wohl am liebsten selbst runterfahren, um dort mal gründlich aufzuräumen - und genau das kann man bei Snowstrike auch machen.

Der Spieler bekommt eine aufgemotzte Version der F-14, genauer gesagt eine F14-LCB Cosmos. Damit bombardiert er Drogenlabore, Lagerhallen und Transporter, versenkt Schiffe oder sogar einen ausgewachsenen Flugzeugträger.

Insgesamt sind es acht Missionen, dazu kommt ein Freeflight-Modus, bei dem man auch einfach so durch die Lüfte gondeln kann. Ansonsten gibt es verschiedene Witterungsbedingungen, mehrere Copiloten und vier einstellbare Schwierigkeitsgrade.

Im Prinzip ist Snowstrike ein als Flugsimulator getarntes Ballerspiel. Dementsprechend simpel ist die Steuerung, zudem hätte sie durchaus noch ein paar Verbesserungen vertragen können. Die Grafik ist schnell, bietet allerdings nur wenige Details und wird deshalb sehr bald langweilig. Soundmäßig stehen mickrige Effekte und eine durchschnittliche Musik am Programm.

Alles in allem also eine Pseudo-Flugsimulation, die in keinem einzigen Punkt so richtig überzeugen kann. Dem Spiel liegt übrigens ein "Sag Nein zu Drogen"-aufkleber bei - ich würde eher meinen: Sag Nein zu Snowstrike... (mm)

Snowstrike logo

Epyx/US Gold, C64 £9.99 cassette, £14.99 disk; Amiga £24.99

The snow in question is the white powder TV detectives are always licking off their fingers and saying, 'Yep, it's cocaine!' it's allegedly one of the world's biggest businesses and the American President has decided to do something about the people behind it - i.e. bomb them!

Unfortunately the drug Lords are based in other countries, so it's time to call in Oli North for some more covert, illegal operations in South America. And maybe Saddam Hussein will pay for them, rather than the Ayatollah last time around.

There are ten missions planned, five launched from a land base, five from a carrier. One amusing touch is that you can choose your own co-pilot: these range from Ramboesque types to utter cowards, and they talk with you via text on the control panel. Once you climb into your jet you can be briefed on the weather and combat conditions. Targets include drug factories, transports and even an aircraft carrier!

Your F-14 is automatically armed with a limited supply of air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, plus unlimited bullets. No sooner than you take off, enemy jets will attack - apparently the drug lords have got more MiGs than the Warsaw Pact! Use flares to distract chasing missiles, then blast 'em with guns or missiles. Should you be hit it's ejection time, but unless you pull the ripcord in time it won't do you much good.

Robin Hogg Despite looking like a sim, this has less strategy than such simplistic blast-'em-ups as Operation Harrier. Graphics are as dated as the ark on the Amiga, and on both versions there's not enough ground detail to provide a convincing illusion of speed. Worse, the C64 version is really rather sluggish. Yet in both games there's really NOTHING to do! Combat is similarly basic on both formats, the enemy jet on the Amiga version weaving around with no respect for the ground or any illusion of 3-D. Admittedly it can be fun blasting the MiGs but there's so many that it quickly becomes tiresome. Without any real depth to the missions this is a very shallow, expensive shoot 'em-up. For C64 owners Project Stealth and First Strike are the ones to get, while on the Amiga it's hard to think of anything worse.
Stuart Wynne You could say Snowstrike is like one of those ancient C64 arcade flight sims, only none of them were quite this bad. Flying toward enemy targets is incredibly tedious with constant harassment from fighters. Dealing with them isn't particularly difficult, but it wastes time, fuel and patience - particularly irritating is how the radar automatically switches from displaying the ground targets to air-to-air mode, showing only aircraft. Another problem is the having to fly low for surveillance scans; with no ground detail it's all too easy to hit the deck. On the Amiga this is all a bit of the joke. The C64 version isn't quite so technically unimpressive, but gameplay is no less limited and the five-year-old Skyfox is much better (although I wouldn't rate that too highly either!).