Blade Alley

Producer: P.S.S.
Memory required: 48K
Retail price: £5.95
Language: Machine code

Screenshot

The first screen of Blade Alley.

Blade Alley is a 3D shoot ’em up with six screens which uses quite simple graphic devices to create the sense of high-speed movement through trenches, over desert plains and so on. The object of the game is to climb aboard your ion driven interceptor and then shoot out of the sky a variety of enemy craft, saucers, tie fighters and space hoppers as well as asteroids.

The 3D effect is created in three different ways. First of all, enemy craft grow bigger as they approach going through what looks like six frames of increasing size, the second device is that everything casts a shadow on the ground, which also grows bigger with approach, as well as defining the apparent height of the craft above the ground. The third method is that the landscape is created with alternate bars of flashing red and mauve, which give the impression of movement.

In all the screens, your craft is seen at the foreground, facing out into the screen. Movement is in eight directions with fire possible while moving. In the first screen you plunge into the trench and are assaulted by tie fighters and saucers. The second is fought out over a plain with hoppers and saucers. The third represents your craft flying between two layers of some giant space station. In the fourth you are over a plain with mountains in the background with all four hazards. The fifth screen takes place in outer space without shadows to help you judge height, and the sixth is in a bottomless trench, again without the help of shadows. Moving from screen to screen is accomplished by shooting down the indicated number of saucers, the indication appearing at the bottom of the screen.

CRITICISM

Blade Alley is a convincing 3D action game which takes some of the themes of Zaxxon like the shadow on the ground which gives you an idea of height. Depth is also enhanced by you seemingly being placed on a hill over which the approaching enemy craft appear as they hurtle towards you. The aliens are varied and with a fair amount of detail. The game is playable, quite hard, especially as being a realistic 3D it’s difficult to judge the height of enemy craft. The explosions are fairly realistic although not very detailed and they are short lived. The hoppers cope with their bouncing action exceptionally well, and I like the way they are animated. Blade Alley is fun to play — I think the scenery could be improved upon instead of just having the changing colours of the ground, and this would add to the fun. Otherwise it’s quite an addictive game with a fair amount of action.’

Blade Alley is a fantastic 3D arcade type game. In my opinion, this is the best ever game from P.S.S., and definitely one of the best arcade games I have seen over the past few months. Shooting down the attackers involves getting your ship at the same height as them, and this is achieved by gauging the distance between yourself and your shadow on the ground, relative to the attackers. The space hoppers are excellent and the graphics generally are very clever with just the right amount of colour usage to create pseudo scenery like the walls and plains. Very addictive and fun to play.’

‘The title screen during loading is a very accurate representation of the inlay cover and in many respects the actual game doesn’t disappoint either. I thought the effect of ‘your’ forward movement was only half successful, and the main feeling is that you are stationary in a trench with the enemy dashing up on you. My other niggle is that once into the demo, you can’t break out, and each screen is demoed until the fighter is hit by an enemy or an asteroid, which can sometimes take quite a while. But in playing, Blade Alley is action packed and fun. A lot of its involvement is due to the difficulty of learning the knack in judging correct height to hit the enemy, and I think most players are going to find it very addictive.’

Title screen

COMMENTS

Control keys: top row=up, third row=down, Q to T=left, Y to P= right, bottom row=fire
Joystick: Kempston
Keyboard play: responsive, and reasonably laid out
Use of colour: good
Graphics: very good, with effective 3D on several levels
Sound: continuous, good
Skill levels: 1
Lives: 4
Screens: 6
Features: Currah Microspeech compatible
General rating: a good to excellent game with plenty of arcade appeal, and a game which should prove addictive.

Use of computer82%
Graphics87%
Playability86%
Getting started81%
Addictive qualities89%
Value for money86%
Overall85%

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