for Amstrad CPC

Company: Dro Soft
Year: 1990
Genre: Action
Theme: Science Fiction
Language: English
Licence: Commercial
Views: 2817
Review by LostInSpace (2020-09-02)

In the future, imperial powers will dominate the solar system. The last war against the royal house of Goriok is still in the system of the warriors of the Hypsys Empire. Hungry for further battles and renewed bloodshed, the forces spend day after day in ever-increasing unrest. Before fire breaks out within their own ranks and the spectre of rebellion could weaken the Hypsys Empire, the high priest Yem-Sular decides to arrange an ancient primitive ritual. This bloodthirsty celebration will claim the deaths of thousands of the strongest warriors, but participation promises maximum honour for the winner: infinite wisdom and the secret of immortality. Only one warrior can stand the tests and the player gets the honour to take over his role and give it a try.

The heroic player is greeted with a loading screen that looks rather scary. The display of a helicopter battle scene in the clouds is taken over one-to-one from the ZX Spectrum version. Here I would have wished for a picture that makes better use of the graphical possibilities of the Amstrad and alludes more to the background story which is mainly located in space.

The attacks are spread over two zones, which must be loaded separately. At the beginning the player controls a combat spaceship with a cannon mounted on the right. The ship moves in top-down perspective on a straight screen-wide path through a space environment. The ammunition for the cannon is limited and can only be refilled at 2 checkpoints within a zone. The same applies to the energy, which is limited to 6 bars and is decreased in case of enemy contact.

The opponents attack according to a predetermined unchangeable pattern. Only two of the numerous types of enemies react to the player's chosen path by following the spaceship. The other enemies can be easily shot down and remain unimpressed by the losses of their squadron colleagues on the same geometrical route. In both zones a boss is waiting for the player in the middle and at the end of each zone. The boss battles are very simple, as pure firepower instead of skilful manoeuvring is what counts. The bosses cannot shoot, just like all other enemy spaceships. However, they need a few more hits than the normal enemies, which are all taken care of by a single hit. Only the sheer size of the boss sprite makes destruction difficult. Just touching the almost screen-filling sprite once will result in the immediate death of the player.

The closer you get to the end of the first zone, you leave behind the dark emptiness of space with its isolated space stations and the earth's surface becomes more and more apparent: expanse of water, roads, railway lines come into view. After the last boss battle the password for access to the second zone is displayed.

With this password the game must be restarted as mentioned above. This is because the level selection takes place before the loading process. After this small bothersome delay the game changes completely into the earth's atmosphere. While keeping the top-down perspective the player now steers a helicopter. In addition to the cannon, the helicopter has a whole battery of rockets on board. Finally the reference to the cover picture becomes clear.

With slightly increased blood pressure, I now expected a veritable onslaught of mercilessly angry opponents. After all, half of the game was over and until now I was challenged but not overwhelmed. I was just puzzled as I was just encountering even more of the predictable cannon fodder. In any case my gun easily blasts away everything that does not step aside. Otherwise one could dodge the predetermined courses of the opponents. Only the almost screen-filling middle and final opponents had to be effectively attacked by the full firepower of the cannons, as in the first zone.

At the end the playing skills are made comparable with a highscore number. The points are based on the enemies shot down. However, due to the limited ammunition, it will probably never be possible to clean up every enemy. In order to achieve a high score, you should avoid firing all over the place but focus your shooting.

Despite a relatively low level of difficulty, I have memorized some enemy waves in order to be able to initiate appropriate evasive maneuvers. The speed of the game is unusually slow for a shoot'em-up, which can be seen in the sluggishly floating sprites. A video of the gameplay is linked below. The scrolling and the movements are nonetheless very fluid. With this slow gameplay the hectic pace of an arcade game cabinet would never been reached by playing Hypsys. Every decision towards a specific direction can be potentially wrong, but at least it is traceably slow in front of the player’s eyes. Only a very high number of sprites displayed on the screen at the same time makes the speed go down and the screen jerks a little bit.

The game was published quite late for the Amstrad. The release year 1990 was pretty much the end of the active production of these 8-bit machines. At this time the gaming industry had already started its race for market share, fame and capital and had expanded to newer and faster computer platforms.

At this moral crossroads, the Spanish development team has shown enough self-confidence and enthusiasm, and has dared an overall colourful conversion of the Spectrum original. They obviously skimped on the cover picture and even left out the tiny bit of sound of the cannon shots in the Amstrad version. The prospect of a commercial success was certainly very small. Even for Amstrad connoisseurs, this title is an unknown marginal phenomenon. Also I don't want this game to be understood as a hidden gem, since the super vivid colour scheme and the nice-looking block graphics do not make up for the slow speed and the missing sound. Surely such a game would only be proper for explorers who feel a fascination for the unknown and curious. In the vastness of the Internet there are many more of those long-forgotten curiousities to be found. Each one is a piece of game history on its own right, inviting you for further investigation.

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