The options screen that comes up uses animated tiles to gradually fill the screen with the menu. Luckily, you are provided with the option to turn this off to make going through the screens much faster. Also, you can choose to have sounds effects or music. You can also choose one or two players. On the next screen, you are confronted with a choice of four planets to visit and wreak havoc on. Each planet has its own theme. For example, on one level you are underwater and your character is a submarine. On another you are a helicopter. And on the other two planets, you are a man in a space suit or a rocket ship. These last two levels cannot be chosen at the beginning of the game. You have to earn enough money to get there.
When you shoot an enemy a coin appears. You have to collect as many coins as possible to buy new weapons. The coins vary in size and value depending on the enemy you kill. The weapons you can buy range from extra missiles that shoot in various directions to bombs. For example, if you want three forward missiles, you have to purchase a missile that shoots above your standard missile that you start out with, and then you purchase another missile that shoots from below your default missile. This way, after purchasing the two extra missiles you have three forward firing missiles.
The graphics in the game feature lush environments and are a big improvement over Menace. My favorite is the underwater level. The sprites are highly detailed and most enemies have lots of frames of fluid animation. The backgrounds are some of the best I've seen on the ST. The scrolling is smooth, but I swear it is the slowest scrolling I've ever seen in a game. The game crawls along at a slow pace but the enemies aren't slow and they are everywhere! The screen is often filled with a variety of annoying enemies and gun emplacements at the top and bottom are firing away at you. I find this game to be more difficult than average.
Next is the sound. You have to choose between music or sound effects. You cannot hear both at the same time. This is not really the developers' fault. It is probably due to the limitations of the ST's cheap sound chip. Other games have both music and sound effects, so I am not sure why the programmers couldn't have both at the same time. Neither the sound effects or the music are anything special, although the music is kind of catchy. The sound effects are really plain and the explosions are very unspectacular and shallow sounding. This is mostly due to the limitation of the ST's sound capabilities.
The playability and the control are average, although sometimes I wish I could fire faster. An auto fire adapter or something would be a great benefit. As mentioned before, the game has an unusually slow pace. It should be a little faster. One of the worst game play features, which is quite common in shooting games, is after spending all your hard earned money on weapons, you will loose them when you take a hit (assuming the hit consumes all of your energy bar).
This game is definitely a must-have for any ST collector. The poster alone makes it worth something and the game is definitely challenging and fun. The graphics are among the best on the ST and the variety of levels, each with its own theme, should keep you entertained for a while. Although the sound effects and music could have been more exciting, and the pace of the game a little faster, I recommend this game without hesitation.