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Battle of the Planets

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Released: 1985

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: Mikro-Gen

Developer: Mikro-Gen

Submitted by: Ian Marks

As a child I loved Battle of the Planets, it had everything… robots that looked like R2D2, a spaceship that could turn into a flaming weapon (Fiery Phoenix), some cool and hip teenagers, who flew spaceships around and wore spandex bird costumes. See I told you… everything.

Micro-Gen saw this cartoon and decided to turn it into a Spectrum game. They also saw Elite and decided to rip the game off and turn their Spectrum game into it – to the extent where the ship rotating on the title screen looks just like an Adder.

I think Battle of the Planets was initially supposed to ship with the add on memory pack that Shadow of the Unicorn had. In the end Mikro-Gen had a change of heart (possibly due to poor sales of SOTU) and it ran just fine on a 48k Spectrum.

And technically it did run quite finely. The graphics zipped along at a fair old pace, much faster than Elite. This wasn’t all good news though, as the speed of the game hampered it’s gameplay. It was very difficult to get any enemies or planets in your cross-hairs as the screen scrolled about too quickly. I know I shouldn’t complain about a game’s graphics being too fast, but to me, a below average games player, it really was a problem.

You had to locate enemy ships by following symbols that appeared on your screen, if there were lots of ships on screen then there were lots of symbols, and it all became very confusing. You also had to keep swapping views to see your shield status, rocket status, planet status etc. Again when battles were getting hot this generally hampered your ability to do well.

It wanted so much to be Elite… but it wasn’t. It had the graphics, but not the depth. There wasn’t really much to do, it was just shoot things and move on. The other major flaw was that after having bagged such a great license Mikro-Gen squandered it and produced a game that had almost nothing to do with the cartoon.

No Fiery Phoenix, no robots that looked like R2D2 and most importantly no teenagers in cool costumes…. Not even ones dancing around in flares and flowery shirts like at the end of the TV programme. Shocking.