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 W hy is it we're so paranoid about broken peace treaties? Here's another one blasted to smithereens, this time by the beastly Vargs.

The plot matters little with Deathscape. It could have been written at three in the morning on the back of a beermat for all its significance. Forget the funny names and future history... the only important info you need is that this is one ace shoot'em up.

No - to be accurate, you do need to know a little more. As the press release so delicately puts it, "Owing to a slight cockup at the printers, the keys are not as described in the manual." It continues to offer a tube of Smarties as a bribe to any reviewer who corrects this "cock up". Well that won't work with Old 'Incorruptible' Hughes.

(Hang on, did they say Smarties? I'd sort out any cock-up for that. Sound FX toggles on Q; A aborts from VARG mothership; W's the map; S fires missiles; E is autoscore update and D auto-fire; R teleports to the control ship and F to the Varg mothership. - Old 'Corruptible' Smith.) (And F to you too! Varg Mothership. )

Exc-use me! If I may continue... Thank you. Now where was I? That's right - not giving away the plot. Well, quite simply, it's this. You steer a Zarquon CAM III Multi-Role Fighter, which, as all Zarquon Spotters will know, is a pretty mean doody, down the tunnels of the Deathscape gladiatorial pit.

See, I said the plot was the pits. But the gameplay is all fast moving wire frame walls and a variety of aliens advancing at speed out of nowhere. Providing you've got the power left you can make a quick trip back to your control ship for extra missiles. But even they don't come free in this rigorous test of reactions, and you'll be expected to put in a spell defending your base against the space drones.

You'll need to learn your control panel and know where the info is, from the scrolling messages up top to the fuel and shield indicators down below. Keeping in touch with your status may just help you live that little bit longer... and rake up an even higher score. Yeah, verily, this game is a Hall of Fame Freak's daydream.

As the result of cocked-up keys indicated, there's also a lot of control to learn, though this isn't as off-putting as in some games. As you can define your direction and fire keys, you may find it easier to junk the joystick just this once and keep your hands on the alphabetical bits.

In fact, the main commands that you'll need are the ones that summon up the map of the grid, with its invaluable view of where you are in relation to Vargan installations, and the teleport to control. The mothership only appears at the end of the game, by which stage your fingers will be flashing around like a concert pianist's, so a couple more keys shouldn't cause chaos.

The secret of success seems to be trying to get the aliens before they get too close. They all emerge from a very small point, so if you target this you can wipe out a whole wave before it splits. Identify their attack patterns too. Particularly nasty are the spinning wheels which strobe backwards and forwards before crashing in for the kill.

Also, use the time-honoured techniques of trashing fuel dumps and generators to refuel or replenish shields. You can score extra missiles, with the same lack of logic, by destroying the fortresses within the grid, but they serve a more important purpose. Each time you wipe one out you'll obtain part of the code that lets you take on the mothership.

Deathscape's plot may be doomed but Starlight has a sure-fire winner in the arcade action stakes. Go vanquish a Varg - you know it makes sense!

Graphics    GRAPHICS


Playability    PLAYABILITY


Addictiveness    ADDICTIVENESS



Overall Score    OVERALL SCORE

 Overall Stars

Ultra-fast, multi-level shoot 'em up which will have you begging for more. Should come with additional adrenaline for addicts.
Reviewed by

Gwyn Hughes




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