Jim Short burns the midnight oil to look at half a dozen more
games for your Atari
£1.99 cassette only
There's a budget
war raging with Firebird and Mastertronic battling it out between
them to produce the best Atari 'cheapie'. Previously, Mastertronic
led the race handsomely with top notch games like NINJA and LA SWAT
but Firebird have retaliated with a real cracker in the form of WAR
vertical scrolling space-zap game which shares many similarities
with Uridium, a top-seller on various other micros. The aliens have
set up their defenses on a huge asteroid belt and you must fly
Warhawk into the heart of that asteroid belt, destroying bases and
wiping out the marauding fleets of enemy starfighters. Watch out for
space mines and meteor showers which will erode your defensive
energy shields. Once your shields give out the game is over.
If you survive the initial run over the asteroid base
and the subsequent kamikaze attack by the starfighters which
converge on your ship like a swarm of angry bees - they have no
firepower but, instead, try to deplete your shields by ramming into
you - your first mission is complete and you advance onto the next
asteroid with your shields restored to maximum strength.
Should you manage to completely wipe out any
individual base you are rewarded with a welcome bonus. An ordinary
joystick isn't much help here and an auto-fire stick is a must. It's
difficult to rack up a decent score without one. WAR HAWK scores
high on playability, though it tends to get impossible on the higher
levels - or so I'm told! Graphics are bold and colourful, sound is
well up to scratch for this type of game, and it has that elusive
quality which keeps you coming back for more. If you're a glutton
for punishment you'll appreciate this one.
Not content with all this, Firebird have tossed in a
few extras. The title screen is a stunner, depicting a moving
starfield fading away into the distance and giving the best
impression of 3-D I've seen in a long while. However, the theme
music is the real show-stopper. Composed by Rob Hubbard it is
causing quite a stir in Atari circles at the moment. My own personal
favourite is 'Song of the Grid' from BALLBLAZER, but most other
Atarians reckon the WAR HAWK theme is the best yet on our computer.
For once I'll bow to the majority and concede the point.
It's going to take something extra special to knock
WAR HAWK off the top of the budget pedestal. Other software
companies may have to do some soulsearching. How much longer can
they continue to charge £8-10 a game when there are gems like this
hitting the market at only £1.99? Think about it.