Lightforce is the Punishment Arm of the Galactic Fighter Command. If a law is broken then Lightforce is on hand to ensure the penalty is paid. And nobody escapes.

Lightforce is also the first game from the Faster Than Light label. This is an off-shoot of Gargoyle Games, the people responsible for the acclaimed scrolling graphic adventure quests Tir Na Nog, Dun Darach and Heavy on the Magick. The new label allows programmers Greg Follis and Roy Carter to depart from a game style which they have made their own, and to take on mainstream arcade entertainment.

The Terran-settled Regulus system, set in an unobtrusive corner of the galaxy, is in trouble. Inoffensive and ignored by most races, it becomes the unusual target for marauding aliens. These aliens are very tough cookies and in no time at all have taken over the peaceful Terran system, culling many of its inhabitants and enslaving the rest. Vengeance is obviously called for.

The GEM council’s reaction to this invasion of one of its colonies is predictably swift and violent. They order all Lightforce fighters in the Regulus sector to attack. Unfortunately, your fighter turns out to be the only craft in the vicinity and, though daunted by the prospect of taking on umpteen aliens on your tod, you prepare to engage the enemy. Yours is not to reason why...

The game is split into five sections. Emerging from the lightdrive tunnel, you find yourself in the thick of an asteroid belt. Blasting a path through the debris you see below vast alien installations of weapons systems, armament pods and energy domes circling every planet. The odds are ridiculous. In a nano-second the aliens have registered the arrival of an intruder and despatch ships to intercept. Cool, calm and collected, and chanting the motto ‘Lightforce is for REVENGE’, you set the lasers and start blasting.

Before descending to the planet surface the massive orbital stations must be annihilated, and then there are further alien control stations to be destroyed in the jungle below. After the jungle section play progresses to the ice planet, then the desert planet, and finally the alien factories. For every four control stations destroyed a bonus is added to your score.

The screen action scrolls downwards and the aliens swoop in from every conceivable angle, each type of alien craft attacking in separate waves. The Lightforce fighter has sensitive controls and can move upwards, from side to side and downwards if you want to beat a hasty retreat.


“My first sight of this game at the PCW show turned me into a gibbering wide-eyed heap on the floor. Lightforce has been in the office for quite a while now and so far it hasn’t been left alone for longer than ten minutes — almost a new office record. The graphics are THE BEST that I have seen on a Spectrum shoot ’em up, if not in any game. The characters are large, colourful and very fast, and the background scrolling is excellent. Sound is a touch disappointing, as there are no tunes, but the effects more than make up for that. Gameplay is extremely compelling but very hard, which can be a little disheartening. I’d recommend this to everyone who likes a good shoot ’em up as you won’t find one better for a long, long time.”

“Gargoyle’s first release on the new Faster Than Light label is a definite winner. The game is extremely playable and features lots of colour that is well implemented in the large and detailed graphics. Sound is weak, but there are some nice spot effects. Lightforce is easy to get into and contains all that the average shoot em upper would like, with a play area which scrolls smoothly and contains lots of things to blow up. However, as with other games of this genre you may find yourself bored after a time and £8.00 is quite a lot to pay.”

“After thrilling to the PCW Show preview, I eagerly awaited the arrival of Lightforce. Usually any game I wait for with such anticipation is bound to disappoint me, but this game really is the exception to the rule! Something has to be said about the graphics, but how can I do them justice? Colour is absolutely amazingly superbly stunningly (help, where’s my thesaurus?) brilliant, and the game is undoubtedly one of the best shoot ’em ups on the Spectrum. Maybe I have some sort of sadistic craving to destroy aliens in a fast-moving, scrolling landscape, but if that’s the way it is, and if I can play and play Lightforce, then I’m happy. Okay? This game certainly is!”


Control keys: redefinable: up, down, left, right, fire
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Keyboard play: slick
Use of colour: revolutionary
Graphics: most impressive
Sound: limited, a few spot effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: five scrolling play areas
General rating: state of the art shoot ’em up

Use of computer92%
Getting started90%
Addictive qualities90%
Value for money89%